The Power of the Cultural Globalization: Taiwanese Pop Music in China
In recent years, much of the most popular music and artists in China and throughout the Chinese-speaking world (Singapore, Hong Kong, overseas Chinese, and, to a certain extent, Malaysia) have come from Taiwan. Even in non-Chinese-speaking countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region (such as Japan, Korea, and Indonesia), Taiwanese pop culture is becoming increasingly trendy and fashionable. This has happened despite significant challenges that Taiwan faces due to its unique political situation and is a testament that the pillar of cultural globalization has to the power to transcend national boundaries. In fact, ...view middle of the document...
Wang has also been heavily influenced by traditional Chinese music, much of which he has blended into his compositions, creating a unique style never before heard of in pop music. In short, both are clear products of cultural globalization.
Tao and Wang were two important players in bringing a more “globalized” character to Taiwanese pop music in the late 90s. Interestingly, this coincides with when Taiwanese music really began to dominate the entertainment scene in Chinese-speaking countries. Peter Mao, a graduate student from China’s Shaanxi Province, cites Taiwan’s relative openness to global cultural influence as a factor in its success, stating that “it is easier for Taiwan to accept popular culture from around the world, while most of [China’s] thinking is still conservative.”
Due to its political system and cultural environment, Taiwan's pop culture has been leading China's entertainment industry for decades. In cross-strait cultural exchange, it is Taiwan that is at the vanguard of Chinese people. "Made in Taiwan" is virtually a guarantee of success in the China, and the island's show biz types have been making for the mainland in a steady stream. Singers and actors who are has-beens in Taiwan are able to extend their careers there. However, things have not always been this way. In fact, such enthusiasm would have been unthinkable just half a century earlier.
The current sociopolitical landscape of reform-era China is far different from what it was when the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949. One of the first actions taken by the government was to denounce popular music as pornography1. The communist regime began suppressing pop music in order to promote revolutionary songs. In the 1950s and 1960s, tensions between China and Taiwan were especially high. China was largely cut-off from global music trends, while people in Taiwan had Japanese and Western influences to draw upon. Taiwanese musicians took these influences and created something that was uniquely Taiwanese.
The trend of Taiwanese artists having such a stronghold on the entertainment industry in Asia really started in the 1970s with the previously unprecedented rise in popularity of Teresa Teng throughout much of Asia. Born in Taiwan, Teng became one of Asia’s first true pop divas. Because of tension between Taiwan and China, her music was banned for several years in mainland China in the early 1980s for being too "bourgeois"2. However, this did not stop her immense popularity in China, and her songs made their way into homes, villages, and bars throughout China via the black market. At the height of censorship, the government lifted the ban on Teng in 1986 and proclaimed that "By day, Deng Xiaoping rules China, but by night, Teresa Teng rules"3. The ability of a single, non-political figure to have such a profound influence on one of the world’s most tightly controlled countries despite ideological opposition is evidence of the seemingly...