Thursday, May 23, 2019

Updated post: English-speaking OB-GYN in Taipei

Just wanted you guys to know that I've updated my post on an English-speaking OB-GYN in Taipei, as my old clinic has closed and Dr. Wang seems to have stopped practicing (I suspect she retired). You can get information for Dr. Hsieh here - I've just edited the old post as the old information was no longer relevant.

If anyone else has other recommendations or experiences to share, feel free to comment or contact me personally (I'm pretty easy to find on Facebook). 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Gym Recommendation: The Key

Over the past few months I've been gearing up to write my dissertation, and was feeling a bit blue about having lots of reading to do because I didn't want to sit like a slug on the couch doing it. A friend recommended The Key, them my husband joined and liked it, and I thought: there are surely exercise machines I could use while reading, even if it's just a bit of light elliptical or stationary bike.

I knew I could do this at the local municipal gym (which is not far from my house), but never seemed to make it down there - in part because the one in my district is in an odd location that isn't too close to anything else I need or want to do. Before The Key, none of the paid gyms really appealed to me either: either they always seemed crowded, or they were too heavily skewed toward weight training, or they were too expensive and only had annual memberships available (I travel often so don't necessarily want to pay for a month when I won't be around.)

Or, in one memorable instance, I had already heard some concerning things about the management at another gym and they way they treated people and interacted with the expat community - only to have those concerns abundantly validated recently. I didn't want to give money to a place that wasn't welcoming to everyone.

So, I joined The Key. From their Facebook page:


Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 8.02.27 PM


It currently costs NT$1500/month (renewable monthly so you cancel if you won't be in town and then return), is conveniently located near other places I often go (just north of Zhongxiao Dunhua) and at the nexus of useful transport hubs, has a big-enough room of cardio exercise machines (not just a preponderance of weight training equipment, which isn't useful to me while I'm trying to get reading done) and has a decent cafe on-site - with discounts for members - as well as a comfortable rooftop relaxing space accessible to members.


I certainly recommend it for everyone, but especially for women. Most importantly, I've never once felt judged or unwelcome as a...um, plump woman who isn't even necessarily there to lose weight the way I have at gyms in the past. Management is friendly and always accessible if you have questions or issues and they make a real attempt to remember their clients' names and faces. Overall it's just a place where I think women can feel comfortable. It's hard to put that sense of 'comfort' into words, but it's there.

The space is nicer and more inviting than the municipal gyms (though I'm happy those exist), with big windows looking out over leafy Dunhua Road. The actual gym portion of the space is above the cafe starting on the 2nd floor, so nobody on the street can see you huffing and puffing away but you can look out at the scenery. There's good wifi and free water. There are lockers (bring your own lock) including ones you can rent longer-term as well as changing rooms and showers which are clean and well-maintained.

Most of the cardio machines come with televisions and USB plugs, so you can watch TV or Netflix while you work out if you're not a hardcore nerd like me. The displays can be set to a number of languages, including English, and are fairly easy to use. They have classes where you can learn how to use the weight-training equipment (and other classes too, as well as personal training, but I'm there to work out as I read so I haven't explored those yet). There are English speakers on staff.

The space is tall and narrow as it's designed to fit into the building it occupies, but they make the most of it with an elevator so changing floors isn't too much of a pain.

So yay, The Key! If you're looking for a place where you can work out without feeling judged or potentially discriminated against or just want a place that's more conveniently-located, this is the place for you.

Note: I was not asked or paid to write this post. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Despite some unfortunate headlines, media coverage of Taiwan recognizing same-sex marriage is exactly what we needed

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Pro-equality activists have been talking about the tangential benefits of same-sex marriage (or better yet, marriage equality) in Taiwan for years, most notably that it would be a massive boost to Taiwan's international visibility. Just imagine the international media coverage, all focused on Taiwan, especially if we're the first in Asia, we've been saying since...forever.

Last Friday it happened. We laughed, we (happy) cried, it was the feel-good legislation of the year.  And just like we said, the rainbow explosion wasn't limited to Taiwan. Every major media outlet around the world - not just the ones in Western nations - carried the news.

Let's put that into perspective. After 2014, when I mentioned "the Sunflowers" to my friends in the US, I was met with blank stares. I may as well have been talking about actual sunflowers that you can grow in a garden. This time, I don't think I have a friend or relative in the world who hasn't heard the news. Taiwan did something huge, and it mattered to the news cycle that it was the first country in Asia to strike a blow for equality.

Wait, what was that I just said? First country?

Reading most English-language media, unfortunately, that word has been avoided with the most, um, ductile of language choices (please enjoy some links to examples). First place in Asia. The island's parliament. Taiwan's parliament...in historic first for Asia. First in Asia.

 First what in Asia? It seems nobody is willing to clarify. Or if they are, it's a 'state' (how is that different from a country?) or a 'self-ruled island'.

Of course, a few incompetent dipclowns (like the World Economic Forum) kind of soured it by calling this country "Taiwan, China", The Guardian called Taiwan a country on Instagram then issued a correction that it was a 'state', and now seems to have taken the post down (I can't find it to link it), and of course the Chinese media gonna Chinese media and whatever.

I propose, however, that the good reporting on this issue (and reporting that is good for Taiwan) has far outstripped the few geographically-challenged dumbos.

First, plenty of media did call Taiwan a country. USA Today called Taiwan a "country" via the Associated Press. The Chicago Tribune used it in their headline too, as did QuartzThe New York Times didn't use that word in their title, but they managed to find a quote to help them slip it in, and CNN did too. Bloomberg managed to stick it into three separate quotes the day before the vote (good job!), and a Bloomberg-affiliated video on Youtube uses the word "country" and so did DW. ANI (from South Asia) called Taiwan a "nation", Bustle called it a "country". Here is The Economist using it in their first paragraph and The Washington Post using "nation" towards the top of the article. There are surely more - there are only so many articles on the same topic that I can read.

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That's a lot of major media calling Taiwan a 'country' or a 'nation' and a lot of readers who will now understand that Taiwan is indeed a country. Nothing at all to sniff at.

Look beyond the English-language media, and it gets even better. On Twitter, Pierre Baubry noted that most French media called Taiwan a country:





...and that lines up with my admittedly shallow research (the sub-headline in Le Monde called Taiwan a 'country'). It's the same in Spanish. No really. There seem to be very few outliers, and even this one references the word "country" within the first paragraph.

But you know what? That's not even the best part.

The best part is that almost every single one of these stories, whether they called Taiwan a 'country', 'nation', 'place', 'state', 'island' or nothing at all ('first in Asia!'), focused on Taiwan itself. 

Not its relationship to China. Not what China thinks about Taiwan. Not China's reaction. Taiwan. The deliberations of Taiwan's legislature. What Taiwanese voters and demonstrators think. What President Tsai did. Taiwan's domestic political situation. China was a non-entity, as it should be, seeing as it's a totally different country. I mean, our buddy Ralph "I hate Taiwan but still write about it" Jennings framed his piece in relation to China but...well. Who cares - at least this time - if one guy buried the lede?

What I mean is, for once, the international media mostly reported on Taiwan the way they should have been all along.

When China was mentioned, it was either in passing without any of that 1949 claptrap, or it was to compare Taiwan favorably to China. Yay!

From the Washington Post:


In neighboring China — which asserts sovereignty over Taiwan — popular LGBT microblogs were censored online in the wake of Taiwan’s 2017 high-court ruling. The social media platform Weibo was criticized last month for restricting LGBT hashtags. 
Taiwan has shown that “traditional culture is not against LGBT culture,” said Jennifer Lu, coordinator of the rights group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan. “That’s the message we want to send to the world.”

Another great thing? All of the amazing soundbites from Taiwan being reported around the world, which focus specifically on the progressive conversation happening here. From the Washington Post:

Tsai, the president, voiced her support of the legislation in a Twitter post, saying that Friday marked “a chance to make history and show the world that progressive values can take root in an Asian society.”

And another one from WaPo correctly pointing out that this has long been an issue in Taiwan, correctly delineating Taiwanese activist history as continuous and robust:


Chi Chia-wei, a gay rights activist for more than 30 years, said he was “very, very happy” to see Taiwan legalize same-sex marriage, calling the process “a strong demonstration of our democratic spirit.” 

From the New York Times:

“Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage,” it said, “successfully striding toward a new page of history!” 
Human rights activists said they hoped Taiwan’s vote could influence other places in Asia to approve same-sex marriage.

From The Guardian:


“What we have achieved is not easy,” said Victoria Hsu, the founder and executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights. “The law will not be 100% perfect, but this is a good start and this is a major step to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now the law says everyone should be treated equally no matter who you are, who you love.”

In another Washington Post piece, properly situating Taiwan as a progressive leader in Asia:


The vote in Taiwan helps “signal it’s not an East-West thing or global North global South thing,” Knight said. Officials in Brunei will have a hard time defending such harsh anti-homosexuality legislation, he said, “when the map of the Asian region is moving clearly in the opposite direction."

From The Economist:


In Asia, Taiwan has long stood out as a bastion of gay rights. The annual gay pride parade in Taipei, the capital, draws tens of thousands, many from overseas.

You guys, this is the kind of reporting that gets the world to wake up and notice Taiwan. This is how we show everyone not only that human rights are not an east-west issue (or a Global South/Global North one, though I would not say Taiwan is in the Global South developmentally), but that Taiwan is a bastion and a leader in Asia. This is how we show them how vibrant Taiwan's democracy really is, and that in fact a lot of interesting things take place here that they probably had no idea about, because the media never bothered to report on it.



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For that, I'm willing to overlook a few weaklings who wouldn't dare to just write "country" (and a few purposeful jerks like the World Economic Forum).

Overall, this is a win for Taiwan. Taiwan the country, Taiwan the regional leader, Taiwan the bastion of progressivism (at least by Asian standards).

Now, how do we get all those journalists to keep it up?


Saturday, May 18, 2019

What it meant to be an ally when Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage

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I wrote a longer reflection yesterday in which I wandered through many thoughts and emotions on yesterday's historic legislation. For this post, I want to highlight one thing that I think is important when you support an issue or social movement, but aren't a part of the group that that movement affects most deeply. That is, I want to talk about what it meant to be an ally standing in the crowd yesterday (yes, there is a little repetition between the two posts). Let's start here:

The level of civic engagement continues to impress me so much, and proves that Taiwan cannot be grouped so easily as a stereotypical 'Confucian', 'collectivist' society with wholly conservative values. It may be true that many young Taiwanese won't engage with their more conservative elders on these issues, but it's not true that they won't find other ways to oppose the old order of unfairness and inequality and a million -isms and phobia that those elders represent.


One of the arguments of the anti-gay camp is that ideas like marriage equality are 'Western' or 'foreign' and go against Taiwan's 'traditional culture' (they say 'Chinese' but I won't.) You know, all that Confucianism and collectivism and filial piety and what not. It's not that those aren't real facets of the culture, it's just that the whole culture cannot be reduced to them, nor can the actions or beliefs of any individual be explained wholly through them. People are not slaves to whatever aspect of their culture someone has decided explains their motives, and culture isn't static anyhow. 20 years ago you could have said the same thing about American culture. 

Of course equal rights have been a part of Taiwanese culture for some time now, and there is no incompatibility with Taiwanese culture (any incompatibility which seems to exist has been invented for political purposes).

So it really mattered that the people in the front rows and on stage, the crowds on camera were overwhelmingly Taiwanese. If 'marriage equality' is not compatible with 'Taiwanese culture', what were all those people who are Taiwanese and exist within a Taiwanese cultural milieu doing there?

Or as President of Taiwan and my current crush Tsai Ing-wen put it:




This movement was started by Taiwanese, carried by Taiwanese and the success they brought about yesterday was done by Taiwanese. There was no 'Western infiltration' about it. (In fact, the anti-gay side is the one that had to look to the West to figure out how to spread its hate, bringing in foreigners like Katy Faust to speak against equality and justice.)

It's important to keep repeating this, because that same opposition keeps accusing the pro-equality movement of doing the same, when it emphatically has not. The side that stands for equality has allies who stand with them. The side that stands against equality has foreign actors trying to help manipulate a certain outcome in Taiwan. And they are the ones who invented that 'goes against traditional Taiwanese culture' nonsense.

Marriage has meant many things in Taiwan over the centuries, including plural marriage, family-alliance marriage (that is, not love marriage) and marriage to ghosts. In China, there is a clear cultural tradition of homosexuality (at least among the upper classes).

It's actually a reductive neo-essentialist perspective - which is inherently Western - which turns so-called 'traditional values' into culturally static and immutable obstacles, a view one tends to take of cultural facets viewed from afar without full understanding. That almost every young person in Taiwan is pro-equality and yet still just as Taiwanese as their grandparents, however, shows that this outsider essentialist view of Taiwan is wrong. 


As an American who was in Taiwan for most of the culmination of the marriage equality movement in the US and so unable to participate (again as an ally - I'm straight and cis), it felt important to be a part of the support to make it happen in Taiwan, because it's my home. I have a place here too. What happens in Taiwan affects me.

And that place was being part of the crowd. Not onstage like a reverse Katy Faust, not a key part of the movement or even vital to it, but a participant who adds her physical presence to the movement. Foreigners were there lending their support too, but it's Taiwanese who led this, Taiwanese who made up the majority of that crowd, and Taiwanese who won. We just stood by them, and that was a meaningful place to be.


As an ally, I've reconsidered my own feelings on the Executive Yuan bill which passed yesterday - after being initially upset and disappointed, it became clear that Taiwanese LGBT groups and the local LGBT community were supporting it, and to be a good ally, I should follow their lead.

Let's stop telling Taiwan what its culture is, while we're at it. Let's quit it with the "but Taiwan is like this" or "Taiwan can't do that, because culture and reasons" or "but Taiwan is so Confucian and collectivist". Pish. Instead, let's be allies and let them tell us. 



It's a humbling, meaningful and impactful place to be. I recommend trying it. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

The sky is brightening: personal reflections on Taiwan recognizing same-sex marriage rights

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During the Sunflower Movement, Taiwanese rock band Fire Extinguisher sang that "the sky is brightening" (“天色漸漸光”)in their hit song "Island Sunrise".

Five years later, as several thousand people or more stood outside the legislature for hours in the pouring rain, clad in damp rainbow gear under beleaguered umbrellas to watch legislative proceedings on same-sex marriage, the sky brightened again, both literally and figuratively.

First, a rundown of how the legislative proceedings went (for a summary of goings-on at the rally, check out New Bloom, and here's my summary of what's happened over the past few weeks). The morning was a bit chaotic, with proceedings kicking off late, and every legislator being given three minutes to voice their opinion, time which many (though not all) legislators took. Freddy Lim and You Mei-nu spoke particularly articulately in favor of equality, while anti-equality legislators, as usual, voiced concerns that defied logic. These "concerns" included points such as "if we pass this, then referendums have no meaning!" (when the reason why this bill creates a separate law rather than changing the civil code is due to the referendum results) and questioning whether the legislature actually had to listen to the court (...uh, yes).


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Then the Executive Yuan bill went through a line-by-line reading and passed every article in turn, with some 'controversial' amendments. The crowd cheered and proclaimed victory as Article 4, which specifically uses the term 'marriage' in relation to same-sex unions, passed with a narrow majority of 66 votes. Reviews continued into the afternoon as legislators skipped lunch. Notably, KMT legislators Jason Hsu and Chiang Wan-an voted for it, with DPP anti-gay legislator Lin Tai-hua voting against.

At that point, I was curled up under my rainbow umbrella with my butt perched on a rain-drenched half-wall outside an entrance to NTU Hospital. I was shunted with much of the crowd to Jinan Road, as the main rally on Qingdao Road was at capacity. Around me, scores of young Taiwanese were following live feeds on their phones of the legislative proceedings nearby (a jumbo screen on Qingdao Road had a live feed for people on that side).



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I ran into a friend and we grabbed coffee together as the review dragged. The rain continued to pummel the attendees still outside the legislature. But you know what? Most of them stayed. Hours it dragged on, and let's be honest, legislative proceedings are kind of boring. Connectivity was awful. Everyone was soaked despite having umbrellas and rain ponchos. There was nowhere to sit. But they stayed - thousands, maybe tens of thousands - to watch legislation drag on together on a screen most of them couldn't actually see.

By the time I made it back to the legislature, the rain let up. The sky brightened.



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A few more controversial things happened - a last-minute motion by the NPP to deal with the international marriage issue (so that foreign nationals from countries that don't recognize marriage equality would be able to marry their same-sex Taiwanese partners) failed, with the entire DPP voting against it...for no good reason. The clause that would allow people to adopt the biological children of their same-sex spouse, but not to jointly adopt an unrelated child, remained in place (with no changes to the lack of access to fertility treatments for same-sex couples, and no surrogacy services in Taiwan).


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But the sky brightened nonetheless. The proceedings dragged on. The people stayed as the rain dissipated and the sun came out, turning puddles of cool rainwater into humid vapor. I ran into another friend and we stood on the now somewhat-less crowded Qingdao Road, steaming in our clothes as the final articles passed review, and hopeful young activists clad in rainbows counted down each one.


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Then it was time for the final countdown - the vote on the overall bill. A flawed bill that does not grant true marriage equality, but a form of same-sex marriage (using the word "marriage") nonetheless. When it passed, the crowd erupted. Some screamed, some cried. The sun shone bright as Taiwan became the first country in Asia to give same-sex couples access to their right to marry: a massive shift in the mood and the weather from morning to afternoon.

The wait from the beginning of the session until the final vote was about 6 hours - approximately 10am to 4pm. But those activists had been standing in the metaphorical rain for far longer than that. The battle for same-sex marriage in Taiwan has been shorter than in many other countries: it wasn't  an issue being discussed widely just 5 years ago, when the sky brightened for the Sunflowers (though dedicated activists had been working on it in smaller numbers for some time prior to that). The fight, however, was as vicious and all-consuming as this morning's rain, and it's not over yet.



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All I can say is that I am just so impressed with Taiwan today. If you thought the dedication of the Sunflowers was a thing of the past, I submit humbly that it continues in a different form, through a different kind of adversity.

I don't imagine there are many countries that would end a marriage equality rally with a performance by a black metal band, as Taiwan did. I don't think there are many where 10,000 or more people would stand resolutely and unflinchingly in the soaking rain just to be physically present for an interminable legislative session. The level of civic engagement continues to impress me so much, and proves that Taiwan cannot be grouped so easily as a stereotypical 'Confucian', 'collectivist' society with wholly conservative values. It may be true that many young Taiwanese won't engage with their more conservative elders on these issues, but it's not true that they won't find other ways to oppose the old order of unfairness and inequality and a million -isms and phobia that those elders represent.

One of the arguments of the anti-gay camp is that ideas like marriage equality are 'Western' or 'foreign' and go against Taiwan's 'traditional culture' (they say 'Chinese' but I won't.) 

But of course equal rights have been a part of Taiwanese culture for some time now, and there is no incompatibility with Taiwanese culture (any incompatibility which seems to exist has been invented for political purposes). 

So it really mattered that the people in the front rows and on stage, the crowds on camera were overwhelmingly Taiwanese. This movement was started by Taiwanese, carried by Taiwanese and the success they brought about yesterday was done by Taiwanese. There was no 'Western infiltration' about it. (In fact, the anti-gay side is the one that had to look to the West to figure out how to spread its hate, bringing in foreigners like Katy Faust to speak against equality and justice.) It's important to keep repeating this, because that same opposition keeps accusing the pro-equality movement of doing the same, when it emphatically has not. 


As an American who was in Taiwan for most of the culmination of the marriage equality movement in the US and so unable to participate, it felt important to be a part of the support to make it happen in Taiwan, because it's my home. I have a place here too. And that place was being part of the crowd. Not onstage like a reverse Katy Faust, not a key part of the movement or even vital to it, but a participant who adds her physical presence to the crowd.



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And it may be true that the DPP will suffer for this in 2020, but somehow I doubt it. They may lose, but I don't think it will be because of this. That they managed to get it through despite absolutely vicious opposition might just win back the young voters who were talking about abandoning them. Besides, people talk about the 2018 KMT sweep as though it had anything to do with conservative 'family values', when it didn't. It was about local governance - and we know that because the NPP drastically expanded its electoral reach despite being wholly pro-equality. They would have suffered the way the DPP did if marriage equality were truly the wedge issue that opponents and pessimists say it is. Most likely scenario? By 2020 same-sex marriage will be normalized, and no longer an issue for the DPP. After all, something had to be done after the 2017 ruling. Best-case scenario? This will actually work in their favor as the progressives who were disenchanted with them come running back.

Besides, in every country where same-sex marriage or marriage equality has been passed, it has simply ceased to be an issue (unlike, say, abortion, which remains contentious in the US because some people hate women.) The party that passed it has generally not suffered electoral losses as a result, as people learn fairly quickly that their gay fellow citizens are indeed normal human beings who deserve equal rights and what was all the fuss about anyway? I can't imagine Taiwan wouldn't go the same way.




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And if you think this has nothing to do with the spirit of the Sunflowers, this guy is here to tell you
that you are wrong. And he wasn't the only one. 

If they do lose in 2020 over this, then they will have stood for what was right in the face of a tyrannical, hateful majority. True liberal progressives won't forget that, and it will come back to them someday. It would be sad to see if that's the case, but the solution could never have been for them simply not to stand for what was right.

As a Facebook friend posted regarding the anti-equality referendum result last year (kept anonymous as the post is not public:

"And yet, the government went ahead with the law. Why? Well, this is what distinguishes democracy from populism. Democracy is not merely about majority voting: it is also about adhering to basic principles protecting minorities from the tyranny of the majority."

But they did, and the future leaders of Taiwan did as well. We stood in the rain for hours...for years.

The fight for full equality is not over, but the sky is brighter now, and the future is too. 



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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rambling around Ximen, afternoon tea, flowers: what I've been up to for Taiwan Scene

So, I've got a few things out at Taiwan Scene that I thought I'd share.

First, a guide to afternoon tea in unlikely places. I ventured beyond central Taipei (where you can get a decent afternoon tea at any number of establishments) to find places for a mid-afternoon repast where you wouldn't expect it. Say goodbye to 7-11 if you missed the lunch hours of regular restaurants!

Then there's "A Day In Historic Ximen" - yes, I reviewed a bunch of places, but I also added my knowledge of historical sights in the area. Some famous, some recently-restored, some a bit less well-known.

I also wrote a few pieces on flower season in Taipei - this one focuses on day routes where you can find different flowers, and another for Taiwan Scene on flower etiquette. It's probably too late to actually do any of the flower viewing routes, but keep them in mind for next year!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Come support marriage equality this Friday!

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This Friday morning - that's May 17 - the Legislature will vote on the three 'same sex marriage' (not marriage equality) bills currently under consideration. People I know are saying that the Executive Yuan's bill - that is, the least bad of the three - will come up for a vote first, as it was introduced first. If it passes, the other two get thrown out. There was some attempt to 'reconcile' the three bills into one thing the Legislature could vote on, but that, uh, didn't happen, because one side keeps stating facts and making good arguments that take the needs of LGBT citizens into account, and the other side can't even get their facts straight and don't care about LGBT citizens' rights.

Although it's not great, it would be best for everyone if the Executive Yuan bill passes for a few reasons. First, it'd mean that bills which protect the rights of LGBT citizens least would not be considered, which is especially important in the case of the so-called 'compromise' bill, which would (horrifyingly) allow relatives of either member of the couple to sue to stop the marriage from being legally recognized. (Edit: this provision has been stricken from the bill.)

It would also mean that there would be a legal framework for how to implement same-sex marriage now, with a fairly clear (though legally tiring) path to actual marriage equality. If we just let the interpretation of the Civil Code take effect on May 24th, nobody really knows what will happen and very little about the actual rights of married same-sex couples will be clear. Finally, this is the bill that LGBT groups support. If we want to be good allies, we should let them lead, and support it too.


And the DPP will need all the vocal support it can get, seeing as it has handled this issue disastrously from the start.

This is the final scheduled vote before the Civil Code interpretation changes automatically, as per the ruling of the Council of Grand Justices, on May 24th. Basically...this is it.

So, there's a rally planned that starts at 8:30am outside the Legislative Yuan. Pro-equality advocates are hoping for a good turnout, even on a Friday morning. I'll be there, wandering around, taking photos, generally adding my physical presence to the crowd.

If you care about equal rights and human rights, I ask that you come too. Take time off if you have to. Tell your friends. Not just the foreigners (though it's easier for a lot of us to be free on a random morning), but your Taiwanese friends. Apply for half-day leave now.

Plus, you can be sure the anti-gay folks will be there too. We need to outnumber them just to show the legislature that equality is the only real future for Taiwan.

If the best of the three bills passes, we still won't have marriage equality, but we will have something on the road to it, and if we show up in numbers that will make an important statement going forward.

See you there.

Friday, May 10, 2019

YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES

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I'm not a fan of just translating stuff from the Mandarin-language media and calling it a day, but this one in Liberty Times is worth it

Building on my last post about some media in Taiwan obtaining Beijing's approval before running news, it seems the collaboration is explicit, and includes Want Want Media (yeah, big surprise).

Is this not a smoking gun of sorts?

I'm not as fast or as good a translator as you might think I am, so I've only done some select chunks of text from this article, but it's all you should need to get the point.



The 4th Cross-Strait Media People Beijing Summit, hosted by Beijing Daily Newspaper Group and Want Want Media Group, held its opening ceremony in Beijing today. According to reports, nearly 70 media and related organizations on both sides of the strait and more than 200 representatives gathered in Beijing to discuss "cross-strait exchanges and media responsibility."

Wang Yang, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultation Conference (no idea if that translation of the name is accurate), met with Taiwanese media before the opening ceremony and asked Taiwanese media to promote "one country, two systems." He said, "In the past, cross-strait relations thawed, and friends in the media industry contributed greatly to that. Now, to achieve "peaceful reunification" through "one country, two systems", we still have to rely on the media community to collaborate with us." 

It's interesting to me that China isn't even trying to hide that it's trying to co-opt Taiwanese media, but there are still plenty of people in Taiwan who would deny that this is happening, or that they or Taiwan as a whole are influenced by it, or that the news they consume like candy might be streaming a pro-China view that worms its way into their heads. They'll still insist "there's no proof!" or say "not what I watch!" even as China openly says that this is their strategy.

It's the same with economic warfare - China doesn't even try to hide that it uses economic carrots and sticks to get what it wants. Or expansionism - they don't try to hide their pure greed in expanding into the South China Sea or declaring the Taiwan Strait their territory.

They don't even lie about what they are doing. So why don't people believe the CCP when they tell us who they are?



When Chen Wenfan, deputy director of the National Security Bureau, went to the Legislative Yuan to testify, he confirmed he'd heard of some media "taking China's side" (and seeking Beijing's approval before running stories.) President Tsai Ing-wen also mentioned Chinese interference strategies, including United Front work, Chinese media interference and the media accepting Chinese funding and 'fake news' at a high-level meeting of the National Security Council today. 

That's great, but this information needs to be reported in detail and made public. Which stations? What strategies? Give examples. Be clear. I don't know that it'll convince the die-hards but it probably will at least wake a few people up.

Or do we need to occupy a legislature again to get people to listen?

Wang Yang said in the meeting, "the way things currently work in Taiwan (could also be translated as 'the current Taiwanese mindset' perhaps?) makes the media advocating peaceful reunification very difficult."

He also said here that the hard work of people pushing for unification would be valued in the future when it's achieved (but translating that part was a pain in the butt, so I didn't). 


Wang Yang went on to say, "I think the Taiwan authorities may not be able to guarantee (what things will be like in Taiwan) even two years later. Considering this, we can surely say that the time is now. Of course, there is also some guarantee from the US. The United States passed the "2019 Taiwan Assurance Act," so the Americans currently stand by Taiwan. (But) the Americans regard Taiwan as a pawn. Will the Americans get involved with China over Taiwan? I don't think so."

A pretty oblique reference to the 2020 election, wouldn't you say? They fully expect their campaign of media co-opting and disinformation (as well as fake civil society/astroturfing) will be successful and a unificationist will take the presidency in 2020.

"Does the United States have the courage to fight China today? I'll say that Taiwan independence is not going to work. Taiwan independence is reliant on Americans, which makes it unreliable." 

He's not wrong. Not about it 'not working'. The only way there will be reliable, lasting peace in this part of the world is if Taiwan does get independence. The other choice is war - peaceful unification is never going to happen, and violent annexation might seem like it will be over quickly, but will create conflicts that will continue for generations.

He's right, however, that Taiwanese sovereignty as guaranteed by the USA alone is not a reliable plan for the future. Taiwan needs to convince the rest of the world that this country's continued existence is worth fighting for. Western liberals especially need to wake up and listen - everything they stand for is embodied by Taiwan's tenacious fight for continued democracy, freedom and sovereignty. It's not jingoistic nationalism, it's fighting for ideals that liberal democracie share, for the human rights we know are universal, and to maintain the sovereignty it already has. They need to understand this, and Taiwan needs to figure out how to talk to them.

And, of course, Taiwan needs to figure itself out. I strongly believe, and I think data indicate, that the populace generally favor independence and liberal democracy. That they'd rather be 'Taiwan' than 'a part of China'. That they can't be convinced that unification is a good idea.

But they sure don't show that in their voting habits sometimes, and this is influenced by media interference and disinformation campaigns. Taiwan must push back against this - it's real, literal, actual future depends on it.

And how can Taiwan ask the rest of the world for support when it can't even agree on how to project a coherent vision for its own future?

We need US support for sure, we can't afford to throw that away even if our most vocal allies are often the worst people (though not always - assurances to Taiwan keep passing unanimously!) But we need more than that too - we need to overcome the disinformation campaigns and coherently project to the world that Taiwan does not want to be a part of China. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Some media in Taiwan get Beijing's approval to run stories, and nobody cares?

So, a few days ago the Association of Taiwan Journalists issued a statement that the National Security Bureau has caught wind of some media outlets in Taiwan obtaining pre-approval from Beijing before running stories.

And...nobody seems to care?

I don't know why - that sounds absolutely terrifying to me. We've been hearing a lot of discussion about possible interference by China in the 2018 election, attempts to propagate fake news and influence the media and generally undermine Taiwan's democratic norms. Now we have some concrete evidence, or at least a report, on at least one avenue they are pursuing and...crickets.

I expected to hear more about it in the English-language media and...nothing, except this - a blog I'd never heard of before but might start following. There is coverage in the Chinese media - I don't have a TV so I couldn't tell you about broadcast (and am a bit lazy about finding that stuff on Youtube) but it's in the print news at least.

But not a lot of print news - I found pieces in Liberty Times, UDN and Yahoo! News Taiwan, and not a lot else.

So, I've gone ahead and translated the statement for you. I'm not a great translator but I did my best: 


During a meeting of the Foreign and National Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan on the morning of the 2nd (of May), Democratic Progressive Party legislator Luo Chi-cheng questioned whether there are some media outlets which inform the "other side" (that is, China) of the contents of any 'breaking news' or 'editorial pieces' and obtain approval from Beijing before running them. Deputy Director of the National Security Bureau Chen Wen-fan replied that he had "heard of this happening recently."
This short question and answer shows that the National Security Agency does not deny certain "news" received by domestic audiences may be reviewed or even edited by the Chinese government. 
In addition to this, the Taiwan Association of Journalists feels it is unfortunate that this is a matter all people should be concerned with; we appeal to audiences to actively shun media which may produce such content. Creating such content does not serve the needs of listeners to obtain news, but rather follows the instructions of Chinese President Xi Jinping that "the media must belong to the party, listen to the party and walk with the party." 
The Taiwan Journalists Association believes that the journalism industry that informs and educates the public will continue its effort to exercise freedom of speech, follow a different path, and will not participate in in China's attempt to interfere with domestic freedom in Taiwan by reviewing pre-publication content from abroad.

And here's the original press release: 

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 9.20.28 PM



The statement specifically mentions listening audiences, which points to it being an issue with broadcast media.

This actually doesn't surprise me - I'm sure we've all noticed that the usual craven, half-true sensationalism that characterizes Taiwanese TV news - and especially the sludge they broadcast on blue-leaning stations - has gotten worse recently. I may not have a TV but even I've noticed it, just from the TVs in restaurants. (I used to merely prefer restaurants that didn't put on CTV or TVBS, now I actively avoid them).

What scares me even more? We don't know which stations are doing this - there is no list, according to deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council Chiu Chui-cheng.

Though we can guess that most or all blue-leaning ones are involved - and it is nearly impossible to convince the viewers hypnotized by it that they're watching Beijing-approved swill. If they cared about that they wouldn't have tuned in in the first place.

It's going to be a long, painful slog to 2020. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Han Kuo-yu sings (badly) at Spring Scream and it's so terrible, it's wonderful

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Screenshot from TVBS Youtube livestream of Big Uncle Sweatervest and his airfisting minions

I was going to post something serious, and I will. Soon. I promise.

But it's Sunday night, I'm tired, I've had a long week, amd I just need you too enjoy this absolute horrorshow that went down at Spring Scream yesterday as much as I enjoyed it.

With flagging numbers, bad weather and all around not-as-good-as-it-used-to-be'dness, Spring Scream (held this year on Kaohsiung's Cijin Island) has...not been doing well. Numbers have been declining for years, but apparently it was especially bad this year.

So, what do you do when nobody comes to your not-great festival?

You get divisive turdnugget and Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu to show up with a coterie of dorky city councilors and sing so badly that literally nobody clapped. 

No, really, if you can stand it, watch until the end of the song. Nobody claps. While there are more than the "50 or so" people that Taiwan News reports (there are other inaccuracies in the article), it's just delightful that everyone just sort of stared at Mr. Sweater Vest and his air-fisting minions like "what the hell is wrong with you?"

I concur: this might fly at your company's annual party (尾牙) but at Spring Scream? Do you really think sweater vests, "old people karaoke" and air-fisted slogans are going to excite the youth?

Also, lol:

Hoping to enliven the party and make sure that the audience got its money’s worth, the mayor of Kaohsiung and several of his city councilors appeared on stage at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday....

Hoping to enliven the party indeed. That's how I want my Saturday night to start.

TVBS makes it really hard to make out (in more ways than one, hey), but there are also a few cries of "get off the stage" (下台!), which can also be interpreted as "step down from office!" You can hear them more clearly here.

It's just...wow. You have no idea how happy this makes me. I mean, it's painful to watch but in that so-bad-it's-good way, because a person I hate looks like an idiot, and that's great. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Don't Trust Terry Gou

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This man is not your maker.
(image from Wikimedia, with my embellishment)

I mean, that should go without saying, but I feel I have to state it obliquely - you simply should not trust Foxconn CEO and businessjerk Terry Gou (郭台銘).

When he says things like "Taiwan shouldn't buy defensive weapons from the US" because:

- "no parent wants to see their child die on the battlefield"
- "why should Chinese fight other Chinese?"
- "if you have no knives or guns, who will want to fight you?"
- the arms that Taiwan buys from the US are "secondhand" (which is apparently not entirely true)

...this is all you need to know about why he should not be the next president of Taiwan.





Let's look first at his "why should Chinese fight other Chinese?" line.

What struck me is how closely it echoes something Xi Jinping himself said not that long ago: "中國人不打中國人" or "Chinese don't attack other Chinese".

Why would Terry Gou echo Xi's own words? That's a rhetorical question: this is no intricate strategy or game of 4D chess in which he's looking to outfox Emperor Xi. His echo is not so much a dogwhistle as a clarion call, saying "Hey China, I'm your guy". When Gou says it, he doesn't mean it any differently from the way Xi intended it just a few months ago.

That's not even getting into how such a phrase assumes both sides are "Chinese", so it isn't a justification for a certain policy of 'peace' in defending Taiwan so much as just saying outright that Taiwan is a part of China anyway, so why fight? Second, the historical illiteracy such a comment assumes is downright offensive. Forget ancient dynastic wars in China (which were almost always between groups of Chinese) - the 1940s is ample-enough proof that Chinese do, in fact, fight Chinese before we even involve Taiwan in the discussion. He didn't even use the term for being culturally/ethnically Chinese (華人). He used the term that implies that Taiwanese are one part of a country called China (中國人). There's nothing to misinterpret here.

Don't believe for a second that his "we should invest in high-tech weapons instead" is sincere, either. It doesn't square with anything else he's said on the subject (if you have high-tech weapons, by definition you are not fostering a dialogue of diplomacy and peace by "not having guns or knives" - instead, you have the fanciest guns and knives money can buy). High-tech weapons on Taiwan's side aren't going to determine how many Taiwanese die fighting in the event of war with China: that'll be determined in part by what China throws at us. And, of course, why would you need R&D into high-tech weaponry if "Chinese shouldn't fight other Chinese"? Taken on its own, his "high-tech defense" comment is reasonable-ish (ish), but in the full context of everything he's said, it's nonsense. Smoke and mirrors. Best set aside as insincere at best, actively deceptive at worst.

Don't fall into the trap that some have and try to claim that he's somehow playing a long game with Taiwan's enemies and will ultimately not obey them. This is a joke. His comments about defense are exactly what Beijing wants to hear - he is positioning himself as their man, floating these turds to the Taiwanese public to see if any of them are mistaken for policy insight. In order to be someone who could talk to China without selling out Taiwan, he'd have to fundamentally care about the sovereignty and democratic norms of Taiwan. He's already proven he doesn't with his comments that "you can't eat democracy" and his implicit, Beijing-echoing language choices (above) that Taiwanese are "Chinese".

Besides, even if he did care about Taiwan's sovereignty (which he doesn't), what bargaining chips would he have against China as a politician? When it comes to Taiwan...Taiwan is the bargaining chip. Either you sell it out or you don't. In any case, China is not a partner with which one can make a good-faith deal with Taiwan. To imply it is possible is to essentially say "I'm fine with selling this country's future to an unscrupulous negotiating partner."

This mythos of a candidate being more than they seem - smarter, cannier, more insightful, with more intricate strategic aims that mere mortals cannot comprehend - has been tried on before. I've seen people apply it to Taipei's Mayor Ko Wen-je (turns out Ko is just a sexist jackass who can't even keep his own comments straight, whose words have also echoed Xi's, to undetermined but probably not good ends). Of course it's been applied to Donald Trump as well. Do I even need to go there?

Don't believe he's somehow above the fray because he has a business to run: every time someone points out problems with the words he uses, he accuses them of "quoting him out of context" and then, at least in the case of President Tsai, attacks them with the same level of maturity as a 14-year-old online troll.

Of course, she didn't take his comment out of context. "民主不能當飯吃" is quite clear and can't be misinterpreted "out of context"- it does not mean "democratic momentum must be converted into economic gains" as he now claims. That's a made-up interpretation, and it is just plain not what he said. He knows that, he meant it then and he means it now. He's just a jackass.

Terry Gou is not a master dealmaker who has a well-thought-out plan for continued peace in Taiwan: he is a petulantsexist man-child. There's no more there there. It's the plain truth of who he is.

Don't believe him when he says his other comments were misinterpreted, either. When he said "if you have no guns and no knives, who will attack you?", that is what he meant, and not some other thing. He did not mean "the defense budget should be spent on the 'sharp edge of the knife,' such as developing indigenous high-tech weaponry" as he now claims.

He's not making brilliant, nuanced points that others are consistently failing to understand. He's floating turds and then yelling at people who call a turd what it is, insisting that his turds are in fact golden nuggets and we plebes just didn't understand the first time around. They're not, and we didn't. Don't be fooled.

Don't fall into the same morass as the media, either, taking what is quite clear - that he thinks Taiwan doesn't need defensive weapons - and turning into a massive bubbling crapfest of truthiness that utterly fails to get to the heart of the matter.

Don't pull a Bloomberg and fail to report that Gou's strongest claim was that Taiwan should not buy defensive weapons, instead spinning it into an article about how he wants to strengthen defense. Don't take that garbage one step further and cast doubt on whether the Taiwan Strait is international waters through dubious language (if you're not clear, the Taiwan Strait indeed counts as international waters. There was no need to imply that Tsai was somehow wrong about this. Shame on you, Bloomberg.)

Don't take Gou's re-jiggered comments as the truth of what he initially said, as Asia Times did, either. Gou did not say "we should spend wisely". He said "if you don't have guns or knives, who will attack you?" and "why should Chinese fight other Chinese?"

Don't. Just don't. Don't buy it. Don't make him into another Trump. Don't defend his floating turds. For goodness sake, don't swallow them.

Do the smart thing and take what he says at face value. 

Then flush it right down the toilet where it belongs.

Or do what President Tsai and NPP legislator Hsu Yung-ming did, and tell him that when it comes to lowering defenses and promoting peace, to "tell it to China."

I hope this is the last I ever say about him, because I find him about as interesting as Han Kuo-yu, which is to say, not very. All I can hope is that these two get locked in an internecine struggle that tears the KMT apart by 2020. It's the best possible outcome for either of them. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

It's not just about calling Taiwan "China" as a destination (also, Air Canada sucks)

When Air Canada and other airlines around the world changed the way they listed Taiwan as a destination by labeling it incorrectly as "China", that was insult enough.

But another deeper issue is made worse by this change: that of mistaking Taiwanese for Chinese - that is, the Republic of China for the People's Republic of China - when they are trying to travel.

It's already happening, and rather than talk at you about it, I'm going to hand my platform over to someone this happened to recently. Her public Facebook post about the incident is in Mandarin, but no account exists in English. I'm providing one here (with my own translation):



I want to talk about the fact that I was denied boarding by Air Canada last month.

Recap:

My flight was from Toronto to Columbus Airport, then to Vancouver and back to Taiwan. I had already checked in online. When I went to check my bags, the ground staff first asked me if I had a tourist visa for Canada. I said that I'd applied for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) and the clerk then asked if I had nationality in the US or Canada. I didn't. Then she told me that this meant I wouldn't be able to fly. She explained that the ETA only allows me to fly into a single city in Canada, but my flight transfers across two Canadian cities, so I had to call customer service to change the ticket.

It took me 20-30 minutes to get through to customer service (the last time it took about an hour), and my boyfriend also helped me check the Canadian visa/ETA regulations so we could show them that the transfer was within 48 hours and therefore within regulation. The ground crew still denied boarding, and the boarding time passed.

Here's the truth of what happened:
I had no idea what was going on with the strange regulations regarding the ETA, which I'd never heard of before, and which Taiwanese citizens are clearly exempt from. After returning home, I immediately began searching for answers. I finally discovered that Canada has this requirement for "Chinese" citizens. Of course my passport is from the "Republic of China" (ed: which is not the same as "Chinese") and I became extremely angry! 

After returning to the airport two days later, the ground staff was going to refuse me again. After I disputed this with the staff, they gave me the good news: "ok, you can board" - but didn't seem embarrassed about their previous mistakes at all. I was furious all over again.  Of! Course! I! Always! Had! The! Right! To! Board! 

Air Canada's attitude in dealing with this?  Terrible ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (it deserves a hundred exclamation points).

The ground staff said the supervisor whom they queried at the time issued the rejection. The supervisor they said was on duty that day said that he was "not the supervisor that day". So I don't know why I was denied boarding, again and again. No one dares to tell me why I was rejected two days ago. Later on, with the same ETA, holding the same flight itinerary, this time I could fly, and nobody dared to just admit they'd confused Taiwan with China! ! ! ! ! ! (let's add another hundred exclamation points).


When I filled out the appeal form afterwards, I found that there was no Taiwan in the options for choosing nationality, only "Taiwan, China." Then I remembered that last year China put pressure on many airlines in the world to fall in line with the "One China Principle" (ed: China's policy that Taiwan is a part of China - not to be confused with the One China Policy). Perhaps this ridiculous mistake was caused by the fact that Taiwan is classified as 'China' in Air Canada's internal computer system. 

No one used to think that airlines had anything to do with politics. Just when you tell yourself that politics is just politics, that as you live your life doing other things like going out to eat or watching TV, and that politics is just a small part of that life - in the end, it turns out that everything is political.

I am even more curious whether you everyday people are really able to accept being treated as 'the same' as Chinese so readily. Are you really willing to sacrifice the existing rights you have as Taiwanese and become Chinese? As we reject the poor quality of 'Made in China' internationally*, do we have to give up being Made in Taiwan and be considered Made in China? 

*I think meaning, "when we stand up for ourselves as Taiwanese in the international arena and when China tries to force us back", but that's my own interpretation of what she means here as it sounds very metaphorical in a Taiwanese way


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

China won't do anything if you say 'no' to them

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I'm hoping to add to this list in the future, but willing to publish now - and here's what I want to say.

It's OK to say no to Beijing's demands regarding the naming and designation of Taiwan. China may push and whine and scream and threaten, but at the end of the day, if you hold the line, nothing comes of it. In specific, rare instances where it has, it's because an entire industry has caved and so the CCP can flex its muscles without worry.

Take the latest LSE sculpture controversy that Chinese students manufactured. As of now, The World Turned Upside Down has still not been changed. I can confirm this as of April 14th: 


Photo used with permission

No official decision has been made, but seeing as it's no longer in the news, I doubt it will continue to be an issue.

And what has Beijing threatened or done in retaliation?

Nothing. Nothing at all. I've checked every news source I can find on this, and there's nada. Zero.

LSE said they were going to shelve the issue, and silence reigned. The Economist intoned that China could threaten to cut off student enrollment as they said they might do at Oxford:


When Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, was asked by the Chinese embassy to prevent Lord Patten, the university’s chancellor (a largely ceremonial role), from visiting Hong Kong, she refused.... 
British universities have worked hard to court the Chinese, and the rush of students paying hefty international fees demonstrates the benefits of this approach. But as the LSE is now finding out, it is not without drawbacks. When threatened with receiving fewer Chinese students by the Chinese embassy, Ms Richardson of Oxford replied that there were many Indians who would be happy to take their place. 

But so far that has not materialized, and as far as I'm aware it never came to anything at Oxford, either. That allows us to add Oxford University to our list of institutions that have refused Chinese demands and suffered no real repercussions.

Then there was the incident at the Lions Club, which has chapters in Taiwan (in China, they have their own Lions Club which apparently cooperates with the Lions Club International). The China chapter tried to force the international organization to change Taiwan's designation...and failed.

Has there been any blowback against the Lions Club by Chinese authorities since?

As far as I can find, there has been none.

And here's one that may surprise you. Remember when we all thought that an Air New Zealand flight was denied landing in China because the Chinese government had requested that the airline change its designation of Taiwan to show it as part of China?

Turns out that's likely not the case. One website reported it, and everyone just took it as true. But even Reuters - that bastion of bad Taiwan reporting - didn't think there was enough evidence to the story to even report it as a possibility. And as The Guardian pointed out, there's no definitive evidence that this was the reason, and in fact reported that:


China’s foreign affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Air New Zealand flight had turned around on its own accord. “Due to temporary glitch in dispatchment, this airplane failed to obtain a landing permit with its destination and decided of its own accord to return en route.”

Beijing is quite clear on the line it takes with international airlines; it has no reason to lie about this.

So I went and checked. Guess what!

Air New Zealand still doesn't refer to Taiwan as a part of China. On its route map, it puts Taiwan in capital letters just as it does with every other country.



Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 8.01.14 PM



At least in Taiwan, their website opens with a reference to Taiwan:


Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 7.59.05 PM


...and Taipei is just referred to as "Taipei" as a destination they fly to, as with every other city.

 Are you hearing news reports about Air New Zealand being denied the ability to fly to China, because they never heeded the request that they change Taiwan's designation? No?

That's because it never happened. Air New Zealand doesn't call Taiwan "China" and yet they are still able to fly to several cities in China, and keep Shanghai as a hub!

What this means is that all those other airlines never actually had to change Taiwan's designation. There was no risk. There's no way China would have banned all of them, seeing as it won't even ban one.

The same could have been true for organizations that have already bent the knee to Emperor Xi - such as the international English proficiency testing organizations IELTS and TOEFL - I fail to see why they felt it was necessary. Do they really think China would ban IELTS or TOEFL testing? With all of the rich princelings that powerful parents want to send to study abroad? Please. There was no risk here; they just bent over because they like it rough, I suppose. If anything, organizations like IELTS bring pain on themselves when their own governments castigate them over their stupid decisions.

And, of course, while China might cause trouble for international news publications, the New York Times, The Economist and more who refer to Taiwan as "Taiwan" are already blocked in China. I suspect most would agree as well that censoring their content so as to appease China - assuring their reporters access or keeping their sites unblocked - would irreparably damage their credibility as sources of reputable journalism regardless. So, there is no reason going forward for them to make any changes either.

In short, let this be my announcement to the international organizations and businesses of the world: you don't have to give in to Beijing's demands on Taiwan.

It's clear that they don't actually do anything to retaliate if you show them the door.