British culture magazine Monocle has an interesting look at Taiwanese pop and its infiltration into the mainland. Despite the decades of turbulence between Taiwan and China, the entertainment mega-machine based out of Taipei has barely hiccuped in its flow from the island to its more than receptive audience here.
We agree that Taiwan’s pop culture is a major and very important export: The top pop stars in this country are Jay Chou, Jolin Tsai and Wang Lee Hom (all Taiwanese)… but we’re not sure what the Monocle reporter means when he goes on to call it Taiwan’s soft power, a “glittering resistance to its presumed big bully across the water.”
Does he think these “pouting pop stars” are really going to do anything to further any kind of Taiwan independence causes? Taiwan-made music has had its grip in China since the 1970s, when Teresa Teng’s songs were so popular that people used to say “by day, Deng Xiaoping rules China, but by night, 邓丽君 rules.” Things haven’t changed much for Taiwan since then.
And maybe he doesn’t remember how A-Mei was banned from China after singing the Taiwanese national anthem for the Taiwanese president’s inauguration. That’s right, to China, singing for your own president was worthy of a blockade. She was only allowed back into the lucrative China market after she apologized and insisted she had never meant to mix politics and entertainment.
The most protest-y protest band the reporter mentions is Chthonic, a symphonic black metal outfit that explores the “tragic history and unique myths of Taiwan,” according to Wikipedia, and has a “Fuck China” stance, according to Monocle. Yeah. When that band actually manages to make it over here, then maybe we can talk about if Taiwan’s soft power is gaining it anything but money.