He Tsz-yuk: Hong Kong can help facilitate cross-Strait cultural and artistic exchanges

The government work report delivered to the 14th National People’s Congress in Beijing in March mentioned “promoting cross-Strait economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation” and “promoting cross-Strait cooperation to promote Chinese culture and create a rejuvenating future together” as key tasks to promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and the peaceful reunification of the motherland. Against the backdrop of a changing international environment, increasing geopolitical tensions, and the persistent hostility of foreign powers, led by the United States, toward China, the Chinese nation should transcend the constraints of ideological differences between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and contribute to the revival of the nation with one heart and one mind. Having been designated as a center of cultural and artistic exchanges between China and the rest of the world in the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), Hong Kong should step up efforts to launch joint cultural development projects and creating other cooperation platforms, so as to enhance the special administrative region’s strengths in cultural and artistic exchanges and cooperation to serve the country’s need for peaceful cross-Strait reunification.

A comprehensive strategy needed

China has vigorously promoted cross-Strait cultural and tourism exchanges over the past five years, including cross-Strait cultural and creative industry exhibitions, cross-Strait folklore temple fairs, the “Gilding the Sea of Arts” and “Love Connection to Qiantang” — cross-Strait cultural friendship trips — among other branded projects. In 2019, the country launched the Cross-Strait Taipei Summer Travel Fair, established the Cross-Strait Colleges Alliance, and designated the Cross-Strait Intangible Cultural Heritage Month. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the country also convened a cross-Strait tourism exchange forum and a cross-Strait cultural exchange forum in the form of remote activities. In the 14th Five-Year Plan for tourism development, China announced its support for cross-Strait rural tourism, joint development of creative tourism products, and cross-Strait tourism integration development routes. In addition to the work of the central government ministries and commissions, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee members have also been actively involved in promoting cross-Strait exchanges and have put forward relevant proposals. In the last session, CPPCC National Committee member Lin Na proposed using baseball as a medium to deepen cross-Strait youth integration and exchanges, aiming to promote a deeper understanding between youths on the two sides and enhance their sense of identification with Chinese culture. In this year’s annual session, CPPCC National Committee member Warren Mok suggested that “music is a powerful and indispensable vehicle for uniting people’s hearts and minds” and proposed to “cultivate cultural exchange brands and enhance the appeal and influence of cultural-exchange activities in the four places on both sides of the Taiwan Strait”. As can be seen, the work and initiatives undertaken by the central government agencies and various sectors of society cover different fields. These include literature, intangible heritage, cultural tourism, sports, and music. However, these efforts and initiatives are mainly project-based. Although they have achieved favorable results, they were not organically combined under a comprehensive strategy with the promotion of cross-Strait exchanges as the main agenda to achieve synergy and maximize their effectiveness. At the same time, these efforts and initiatives have relied on the government’s actions, with the government assuming the role of the leader and the community focusing on cooperation and participation, without further studying how to encourage civil organizations and various sectors of society to take on the high-level role of self-coordination and self-organization.

Taking a leaf from CulturEU

As a reference for our country, which is currently actively promoting cultural unification among the four places on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the European Union’s efforts to foster a friendly atmosphere and greater mobility for all member states and their cultural institutions are a good example. In the CulturEU Funding Guide, the Creative Europe project is of particular interest and reference. The aim of this project is to promote the cooperation and development of multinational cultural institutions in order to support the establishment of a European network of creative industries. The guide requires all projects to have a “cross-border” element, with the participation of three, five, 10 or more cultural institutions from member countries, depending on the size of the project. Its subproject i-Portunus is aimed at individual artists, allowing cultural professionals to apply for short-term mobility and residence in other EU member states to encourage their participation in “cross-border” cultural projects. In the process of cross-border cooperation, cultural institutions from different countries and regions are given ample room for exchange and collaboration, contributing their own expertise and cultural styles to create art projects like a melting pot. For example, the Ruritage project from 2014 to 2020 brought together 38 partners from Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Italy and other countries to complete the sustainable development of rural areas with a funding of over 2 million euros ($2.2 million), bringing together the cultural characteristics of different countries in the areas of cuisine, festivals, landscape and urban construction. As Fok Kai-kong, a deputy to the National People’s Congress and a Legislative Council member, said, Hong Kong should “go out to the sea” together with different organizations and friends from different cultural sectors in the mainland, through the melting pot of Hong Kong. The HKSAR government should take a leaf from the EU’s book and seek support from the central government to launch a cross-Strait cultural and creative projects support program to establish a network of elites from the cultural and creative industries in the four places (Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao) on both sides of the Strait and invite them to apply for funding to carry out creative projects. Projects can be carried out anywhere in the four places, but must involve artists from three or more places to ensure that they play the role of a melting pot and serve as a platform for exchange and cooperation among artists from the four places, and that the projects created can combine the cultural characteristics of multiple places, which helps to realize the spirit of the four regions. In the initial stage of the project, it can focus on aspects such as collaborative film, co-creation of musicals and stage plays. In the long run, the project can also examine large-scale construction projects such as the Ruritage cultural integration park, which will further integrate the cultures of the four places into the lives of the people. This will play a significant role in unifying the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and in establishing a single mindset among the Chinese people.

The author is a youth commentator with the local think tank The Arete and a youth representative on the Civil Policy Address Drafting Committee. His research focuses on the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and local art and culture development.


Source:China Daily [2023-05-09]