Session 1: Southeast Asia in Taiwan


Thursday, April 25, 9:20 a.m — 10:50 a.m.

Situating “Southeast Asia” in the Making of the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum in Taiwan

Pin-Yi Li

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

The New Southbound Policy launched by the Taiwanese government has influenced both the shaping and development of the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum (NPMSB). In fact, the museum clearly refers to itself as Taiwan’s “Asian Art Museum.” Meanwhile, the policy has led to a particular focus on Southeast Asian cultural displays in its permanent exhibition (e.g., the exhibition of “Wrapping Cultures: Asian Textiles from the National Palace Museum Collection”), immersive theater, and the launch of annual Asian Art Festival featuring different cultures from countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam since 2017. The issue of Southeast Asian-related museum exhibitions has been widely discussed in many scholarly works in the field of museum studies. However, how NPMSB engages Southeast Asian cultures has not yet been thoroughly examined. Moreover, by applying anthropological methodologies, including conducting archival research and in-depth interviews, I aim to understand multiple perspectives that are involved in the making of museum practices. For instance, I will analyze news articles that observe the exhibitions and the festivals, and interview the curators, activity facilitators, and audience and participants, in order to build a more comprehensive and dynamic understanding of how these museum practices have been playing an important role in strengthening the museum’s linkage with both the local and the international communities. Furthermore, I wish to understand how Southeast Asia and the New Southbound Policy have been imagined by the museum and how the imaginations have concretized and formulated the ways the museum staff, including the aforementioned curators and facilitators, as well as visitors from varying backgrounds, are collectively identifying and interacting with the museum.


Cold War Co-Prosperity Sphere: Science and Culture Exchange between Taiwan and South Vietnam from the 1950s to the 1970s

Linh Vu
Faculty of SHPRS History, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

This paper examines the complex relationship between the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan, and the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, “South Vietnam”) during the Cold War era. Although the former exported millions of US dollars’ worth of materials to Vietnam, the relationship was not purely one of economic aid. The Viet-Hua Cultural Association was formed to promote exchanges between the two countries. In 1960, the Institute of Advanced Chinese Studies at the University of Hué invited a Chinese professor to spend three years working for the institute. The ROC sent a theater troupe to perform in Vietnam in 1960 and held a 15,000- volume Chinese book exhibition in Saigon in 1961. A member of the Judicial Yuan went on a lecture tour throughout south Vietnam, giving speeches on Confucianism and the Yellow Emperor. Under the auspices of the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a group of Buddhists toured multiple countries in Southeast Asia. Chinese technicians in sugar refining and kenaf weaving were sent to support Vietnamese farmers while the RVN’s Ministry of Agriculture sent a book on pig husbandry to Taipei. The works of a Vietnamese painter were exhibited in Taipei’s Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in 1968. A Vietnamese doctor from Saigon’s Ngo-Quyen Sanitorium sent his research paper on the use of a native plant, Morinda citrifolia, to treat tuberculosis for publication in a journal of Chinese medicine in Taiwan. The researcher implied that the common “oriental spirit and disposition” shared by the doctors of the two countries would make the research result meaningful. Based on these concrete examples of knowledge exchange, I argue that there was more nuance to the relationship between the ROC and the RVN than the anticommunist alliance. In addition, while acknowledging the role of the United States in the region’s affairs, I seek to examine the ROC and RVN connection on its own terms. In contrast to the asymmetrical relationship between Beijing and Hanoi, the interactions between Taipei and Saigon represented a more equal partnership. My research overall sheds new light on cultural dynamics in Asia and nation-state formation during the Cold War.


Strategizing Taiwan’s Warm Power Diplomacy to Southeast Asia

Alan Yang

Professor, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Since 2016, When President Tsai Ing-Wen took office, her administration has been prioritizing Taiwan’s relations with Southeast Asian countries through the implementation of the New Southbound Policy (the NSP). The NSP is people centered and has been carried out through the cross-sectoral partnership. The NSP, acting as the driving force for enhancing multifaceted partnership between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries, advances resilient collaboration in the field of economic and industrial connectivity, international education and talent cultivation, medical and public health collaboration, regional agricultures, and social connectivity. The NSP also serves as the facilitator to link the survival chain between Taiwan and the neighboring partners in Southeast Asia. Hence, this paper will first address the connotation of the Warm power diplomacy and then scrutinize the eight-year-achievements of the NSP during Tsai’s Presidency.

Keywords: The NSP, NSP flagship programs, Policy evaluation, Taiwan-Southeast Asian relations, Warm power diplomacy, resilience, survival chain