Taiwan plans to further preserve its Chinese cultural heritage

The National Central Library, founded in 1933 in Nanking, relocated with the Nationalist government to Taipei in 1949 and reopened in 1954 at a previous location

Sinology is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China primarily through Chinese philosophy, language, literature, culture and history, often referring to Western scholarship.

As a Sinologist myself, I was delighted when National Central Library (NCL) female Director-General Tseng Shu-hsien (born in 1958) announced on October 18th, 2022 that Taiwan plans to increase its efforts to preserve the island´s Chinese cultural heritage.

The current leftist DPP government, not known for its love for anything related to (modern?) China, recentlyopened five more Sinology resource centers in various European countries in the hope of increasing the exposure of Taiwanese research in this academic field.

Tseng presided over the opening of those branches of the NCL-run Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies when she visited five prestigious learning institutions on the Old Continent.

These are Masaryk University in Brno in the Czech Republic (founded in 1919 in just established Czechoslovakia), the University of Tartu in Estonia (founded in 1632 under Swedish rule), Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest in Hungary (founded in 1635 in what is now Trnava in Slovakia), Vilnius University in Lithuania (founded in 1579 during the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth), as well as Comenius University in Slovakia (founded in Bratislava in 1919, then part of Czechoslovakia).

According to Tseng, the NCL also plans to expand interest in former Formosa in general. Therefore, it is planning to open a “Taiwan Corner” in the national libraries of the Baltic nations of Estonia and Lithuania to display Taiwan-themed books.

The first resource centers of currently 37 were established in late 2012 in locations as diverse as Austin, the capital of the US State of Texas, and Moscow, Russia’s principal city.

This happened in line with then President Ma Ying-jeou’s (born in 1950) policy of promoting “Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics”, which also included fostering the publication of Greater China research by Taiwanese academics.

Through the centers, researchers can find sinology-related materials from up to 1,000 publications online, ranging from topics like Taiwanese literature to the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC), up to now Taiwan’s official name.

I hope that the changeful history of those new scholastic hosts makes radical independence supporters understand that Chinese and Taiwanese identities aren’t mutually exclusive, but actually complementary, and that both need to be cultivated at the same level.