Written by Ysanne Chen, Ilin Tsai, and Shih-Hao Huang. In “Pondering the Pacific,” we conceptualise the Pacific as an oceanic highway or a contact zone. The vast ocean connects Pacific Islands. We travel from the island of Taiwan (we are reluctant to call it main(is)land) to Pongso no Tao to recover and explore this connection. When on the island, we further learn about Tao people’s connectedness to other Pacific Islanders. Upon our return, we wrote these poems to celebrate the Pacific. Along with other Pacific Islanders writers and poets, we praise the Pacific for its abundance and ability to connect people. We also join Pacific Islanders in voicing out against nuclear contamination and all forms of environmental injustice.
Pondering the Pacific: One of the Moons Version I
Written by Shih-hao Huang, Chiahua Lin, and Robinson Pinghao Liu. Employing “the Pacific” as a contact zone, this poetry collection explores the dynamic and shifting relationship between land and sea, allowing Indigenous culture and history in the trans-Pacific context to engage in spatial and historical complexity. This journey triggers memories and connects the present with the ancestral past. When seeing the constellations in the sky, one is reminded of the stories about stars. However, we were reminded that we often forget Taiwan is also a part of the Pacific. Therefore, we authored poems to represent, substantiate and celebrate the connection: the LOST connection between the Pacific Ocean and us.
A Possible Cultural-Political Alliance to Address Concurrent Struggles between Taiwan and Oceania: Music as a Means
Written by Chun Chia Tai. For many Indigenous peoples in Taiwan, music is a lively cultural medium that facilitates allying with other Austronesian peoples residing in Oceania. Such a musical way of fostering cultural diplomacy has currently been popular in Taiwan, especially after the release of the album Polynesia in 2014, emphasising the shared cultural genealogy of Austronesian under the collaboration of an Amis singer Chalaw Pasiwali and a Madagascar musician Kelima. In the same year, another project called the Small Island Big Song aimed to establish a network between Pacific Islands and Taiwan through music and film. Musicians in this project released their 2018 album Small Island Big Song and a sequential album named Our Island in 2021. Moreover, all these musical works focus on fusions of traditional folk music(s). Positive public perception reflects Taiwanese people’s rising demand for establishing a cross-Pacific Austronesian community between Taiwan and the Pacific Islands.
As Sea Levels Rise and Chinese Pressure Mounts, Taiwan Must Extend NSP to the South-Pacific
Written by Ma’ili Yee. A year after losing two of its Pacific Island allies, Taiwan continues to feel the mounting pressure of Chinese influence in the South-Pacific ocean. Within recent years, China has pointedly increased its presence in the Pacific through financial aid, commercial trade, and high-level diplomatic engagement. The four Pacific states of Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau now compose nearly a third of the remaining countries that officially recognize the ROC. Despite their small geographic and economic size, Taiwan would be wise to recognize these Pacific island nations’ immense political weight and properly address their top concerns—sustainable development and climate change—through concerted foreign policy.
The Youth Ambassadors and Taiwan’s Performative Cultural Diplomacy: “Some of the dancing, yeah, I don’t really understand [it]”
Written by Jess Marinaccio. Attention to cultural representation is critical to creating a more equitable Taiwan, especially given Taiwan’s settler-colony status. However, problems of cultural (mis)representation focus the Taiwan’s Youth Ambassadors project on the domestic sphere, suggesting that culture is an ineffective tool in Taiwan’s foreign affairs.