March 03, 2011
Taiwan's spirit of transformation
Taiwan's spirit of transformation
.Publication Date:02/25/2011
.Source: Taiwan Today
.By Tito Bacchus

As countries grow and develop, certain events in their histories stand out as key moments for ushering in significant processes of change. For Taiwan, the staging of the Taipei International Flora Exposition is such an event, heralding a new era of transformation that promises to promote the country as a hotbed of innovation, and showcase its many economic, cultural and social achievements.

This expo-inspired national reboot, which has turned heads at home and abroad, is the product of progressive policymaking, effective public-private sector cooperation and the indomitable spirit of the Taiwanese people. It also reflects the nation's will to make its voice heard while rendering a significant contribution to progress?Xan expression of true democracy in the global community.

As of Feb. 20, the expo had welcomed 4.8 million visitors and looks certain to surpass original projections of attracting 8 million by the time its 170-day run draws to a close April 25, 2011. The central and Taipei City governments are justifiably proud of this tremendous advertisement for Taiwan, which has thrust the country into the international spotlight and garnered headlines for all the right reasons.

Representing a vote of confidence in Taiwan's blossoming global horticulture industry, the event similarly serves as a timely reminder that the local meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition industry?Xa lucrative segment within the global tourism sector generating millions of dollars in revenues?Xis on a strong footing.

Equally important, however, is that the expo offers a fresh take on the country for visitors from around the world. This benefit is critical in that it paves the way for Taiwan's rich and diverse culture to receive even greater global attention, helping change the way the nation is perceived overseas.

Taiwan is a special nation and one of the most exciting in which Chinese culture is rooted. Over the past 400 years, local society has been shaped by Chinese, Dutch, Japanese and American influences. Such a distinctive mix has created a fusion of cultures and produced a variety of creative and vital cultural activities.

The importance of communicating this fact explains why the government is putting a premium on bolstering Taiwan's cultural and creative industries through such initiatives as the recently launched Cultural and Creative Industries Development Research Institute. Set to play a key role in driving development and spurring innovation, the center will also promote groundbreaking products, protect patents, cultivate top-tier output in related fields and develop new distribution channels and retail markets.

The ripple effect of this initiative will be felt throughout Taiwan's cultural and creative industries. In addition to root-and-branch industry support programs, the center plans to instill the younger generations with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the arts and creative industries. Such heightened awareness is certain to spark greater participation in the sector?Xan essential requirement for its future strength and success.

In capitalizing upon Taiwan's top-flight environment for creative thinking and living, the center helps lay the foundations for sustaining and increasing national prosperity. This measure promises to make arts industries significant growers of wealth in the national economy: a prime example of how thinking outside the box can pay off.

The special qualities and assets of the nation and its people are also playing a key role in this process. By sharing with the international community what is distinctly Taiwan's, this manifests and protects the national character while ushering in change and further opening the country to the influences of the world.

There is no question that the expo is an effective way for Taiwan to demonstrate the vitality of its soft power in nurturing international relations. Hosting such events is also an outstanding platform for sharing the achievements of the nation's industries and R&D outfits, while showing off the renowned warmth and hospitality of Taiwanese people.

With the country's abundance of creativity and its vibrant democracy serving as conduits for boosting foreign investment, trade and tourism, ongoing efforts aimed at promoting the unique local cultural spirit overseas are paying dividends. The time is fast approaching when Taiwan's emerging creative industries will come into their own, standing tall on the international stage.

Globalization has created a new kind of interdependence among nations and brought all peoples much closer to each other. Events such as the Taipei International Flora Exposition are extensions of this new reality, functioning as forums where the world can learn about one of Asia's most distinct countries and experience up close and personal its array of economic, cultural and social achievements. This process reflects Taiwan's determination as a free and sovereign nation to forge a strong, dynamic future while writing a new chapter in its history?Xa significant aspect of the spirit of transformation sweeping the nation.

?XTito Bacchus is a freelance writer based in Montreal, Canada. These views are the author's and not necessarily those of Taiwan Today. Copyright c 2011 by Tito Bacchus

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