An Ocean Nation


2018 / May

Ivan Chen /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

Surrounded by water, Taiwan is in­extric­ably linked to the sea, whether in terms of climate, environment, flora and fauna, or culture. Water has sculpted every facet of our island and endowed it with rich natural resources. But these resources are not inexhaustible. Developing them sustainably demands our collective stewardship.

In this month’s Cover Story we look at marine conservation, examining how the government, the private sector, and regular citizens are crafting and enforcing regulations, designing systems and working together internationally to bring humankind and nature into a more sustainable balance. We also look at industries and activities connected to the sea, including the strengths of Taiwan’s yacht industry, and we examine cultural creativity in a fishing village.

On a related theme, our Photo Essay this month offers a new look at Taiwan’s coastline. And what sort of romantic dreams are fostered at Tai­chung’s Humpback Whale House? Let’s take a look!

Who says documentaries have to be stuffy and boring? In the 1960s all manner of documentary films were being made in Taiwan, including Richard Yao-chi Chen’s socially aware Liu Pi-chia, ­Chuang Ling’s family-­focused Life Continued, and Han ­Hsiang-ning’s artistic Today. Each has a different subject matter and style, but they were brewed from the ferment of the same era. Guided by Wood Lin, program director of this year’s Taiwan International Documentary Festival, we examine the documentaries of that decade.

In this issue we also visit Chen Cheng-­hsiung, twice winner of both the Lifetime Achievement in Art Award and the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award at the Florence Biennale. We learn about his creative ideals and trace his artistic development as he gives us a glimpse of how he uses color to express the essence of life amid the joyous splendor of nature. 

Taiwan is a place of ethnic diversity and collaboration, and three of this month’s articles reflect that reality. The traditional Amis craft of sedge weaving has been given a fashion­able new twist in the form of a streamlined modern lamp that has made a splash internationally. Chinese-Indonesian radio host Antonius Sunarto, during his tenure at Radio Taiwan International, has helped to solve problems faced by Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan both at their workplaces and in their daily lives. Students from Junyi Experimental High School in Tai­tung are collecting books in Southeast-Asian languages to lend out to migrant workers. These are the vibrant and diverse threads from which the tapestry of this island nation is being woven.

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