Showing posts with label lee_mingche. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lee_mingche. Show all posts

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Teachers in Taiwan: Remember, TutorABC is a Chinese company obeying Chinese laws - which could be a problem

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Excerpt of an e-mail received by a friend from TutorABC/iTutor


Everyone who lives in Taiwan has heard of TutorABC - it's one of the biggest online English tutoring companies in the country and advertises everywhere. I'll summarize a bit more of what people say about their working experiences there below, but it seems pretty standard for an online tutoring company.


From all this advertising in Taiwan, two mentions of Taiwan on the "About Us" page on their website, and the many Taiwanese companies they advertise as using their platform, you might think it is a Taiwanese company. It's not - it's Chinese. This isn't an exposé, it's just a fact (and if you look closely, you'll see the headquarters are in Shanghai, though apparently they used to be in Taipei[?]).

It's unclear from Internet searches when they were founded - results say 1998, 2002 or 2004, which is a bit odd. I'm not sure if the listed CEO, Eric Yang, is Chinese or Taiwanese, or if he's even still the CEO - there are rumors of a quiet takeover by Chinese company Ping An (from the previous link, in Mandarin).  Bloomberg lists them as Chinese.

What's more, most of the executives seem to be Chinese (though it's not stated clearly and at least one attended a Taiwanese university.) Top-level management, from that page, appears to be exclusively male.

If you want to teach for TutorABC, you don't actually sign up with TutorABC directly - you sign up with a larger online teaching conglomerate called iTutor, which is more explicitly based in China, not Taiwan, and owns more than one 'brand' of online teaching.


This isn't a problem per se, as a company, no matter where it's based, is as good as it treats its employees. If there are no problems with ties to the Chinese government, random enforcement of Chinese law outside Chinese borders, or pushing any sort of "One China" policy on employees, then I wouldn't be writing this post. If those aren't issues, then who cares?

But, of course, I am writing this, so there must be something to report. And of course there is, as the CCP as been tightening control on business located within its borders, as well as making ridiculous demands on international businesses if they want to do any sort of business in China.

A friend of mine recently signed up to work for iTutor and as she was completing the onboarding process, received this email:



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(All e-mails are reprinted here with permission of the recipient.)
Nothing from the original text was cut, but I've cropped all photos so the e-mail reads seamlessly. There's a FAQ at the end which is irrelevant to the point and is therefore not included.

Now, there's nothing wrong with most of this. In essence, iTutor (again, the parent company of TutorABC), as a Chinese company, has to obey Chinese laws when it hires consultants to teach students based on China. There's nothing particularly abnormal about that.

The problem is that the tutors are not - and, as per the email, cannot be - located in China, but they too are expected to help iTutor abide by the law of a country they don't live in by giving iTutor their personal information. Some of it is pretty standard: if I were hired by a company anywhere to work remotely, I'd expect that they'd want to see my official ID to verify that I am a real person. I'd expect that the government where they're based might want to see that ID. Showing one's teaching certification isn't that big of a deal either.

The real problem is this:


Government agencies are permitted to check consultants' entry-exit and immigration records in China to ensure compliance with the law. 

Prospective tutors can make their own decision about whether they're comfortable with that - in theory they're just making sure you're not actually in China, as per the (rather strange) law, and it doesn't say they'll look more deeply than that - it's up to you whether you believe that or not. But my friend is not comfortable with it, and I wouldn't be either. Regardless of who is employing her, what right do officials in China have to check her passport to see where she's been, when she does not reside in China, is not at a Chinese border, embassy or consulate requesting entry? 

That is invasive and personally, I wouldn't accept it. It goes without saying that I would not trust the Chinese government in particular with that data (though I wouldn't be very comfortable with any foreign government having such easy access to it, the PRC is on a whole other level of terrifying).

It should be a non-starter that people not working in China, even if they have contact with people in China, are not bound by Chinese law and any legal obligations are the company's problem, not theirs. But, as you know, China considers its laws to reach beyond its borders. You absolutely can be detained in China for engaging in actions that are illegal in China, even if they were undertaken in a place where they are not only legal, but protected human rights, and even if you are not a Chinese citizen. You might even be kidnapped outside of China, or be pressured, surveilled or threatened outside China, especially if you have family in China.

You might think it's overkill to say that this situation amounts to being surveilled by China while outside China, but I honestly don't think it's an exaggeration, even if most prospective online teachers are of no interest to the CCP.

My friend wisely requested that her profile be terminated as she does not wish to hand over that data to the government of a country she doesn't live in, or comply with the laws of a country she doesn't live in. 


This is where enforcing a "One China" policy on employees who are not in China comes in:




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And there it is.


"We are a Chinese company, Taiwan is a part of China." 

This could be the personal view of the employee who replied to my friend when she requested termination, but remember, this is a Chinese company and this is the enforced (by the CCP) "viewpoint" of all Chinese companies - not just iTutor - and increasingly of all companies who want to do any business in China.

In any case, that just doesn't make sense. 


If tutors must be located outside of China to work with students in China, and Taiwan is a part of China, then wouldn't all tutors located in Taiwan be barred from working with students in China? 

Regarding the issue raised, then, the response simply doesn't make sense. It's unrelated. This person went out of their way to express an irrelevant opinion in an official company capacity.

Or is Taiwan only a part of China for this purpose, but not others? It seems that way. In a Bloomberg piece that praises iTutor for their success, you'll see this tidbit:

Now, Yang's company runs a host of brands. TutorABC, vipJr and TutorJrform the core of the business, teaching English to students in China, Taiwan and Japan. [Emphasis mine]. 

Doesn't the cognitive dissonance get to be too much sometimes? I don't know. 


Regardless, iTutor hires tutors from all over the world. It would stand to reason that all of them, not just those located in Taiwan, would be asked to comply with this law and submit their passport and travel information to the Chinese authorities just to connect remotely to students in China. So what would it matter if Taiwan were a part of China for this purpose?

Prospective online tutors in Taiwan, you can do whatever you want with this information. Ignore it if you like. I have no personal opinion about TutorABC or iTutor as companies, just an opinion about the enforcement of Chinese law and the ridiculousness of "one China". But be aware that, as a Chinese company, they will ask you to abide by Chinese law - through helping them abide by it - even though you are not located in China, and data you may not want the Chinese government to have might well be handed over to them as an employee of companies like these.

And this problem isn't going to go away. Be very aware of whom you're working for, where they are based, what they are asking of you and who is going to see that information. 


Otherwise, the set-up for this job is pretty standard for online teaching, especially in Asia, with Asian-style management. It's got all the pros and cons you might expect. I have no personal stake in this or opinion of them as an employer, so I won't really say anything here, except that I recommend you read the reviews on Glassdoor

Pay particular attention to who says their interviews were perfunctory (to the point of being just a few minutes long and asking questions that should have been clear from the initial application), to those who say they were difficult or they were treated rudely. Can you spot a potential reason for the different treatment? Look as well at what people are saying about pay and treatment of teachers, and how likely it is that students will leave the positive feedback that leads to higher pay, and the charts that outline what employees say about the overall outlook for the company. Look at how the company publicly responds to these issues. You'll notice a few trends. Have fun!

Little end-note: I bet some of you are thinking "Lao Ren Cha could get sued for this!" Yeah, I considered that. I've been sued before for telling the truth (the case was dismissed before it ever got to trial - I might write about it someday as I saved all the documents). So let me clarify that reporting on what other people have said, with their consent, without malicious intent to hurt the company image, is not illegal in Taiwan. I'm reporting on what my friend said with her consent and with back-up documents and very purposely not expressing an opinion on the company itself (in truth, I don't have one), but rather the policy of complying with Chinese law outside China as it would apply to any company. I want to be quite clear that people can do whatever they want with this information; it is not an attempt to malign, insult or hurt the business of iTutor or TutorABC - it's just the truth of what they ask of their tutors, as reported to me. If you're fine with that, then no problem - I hope you enjoy working for them. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Swedish citizen Gui Minhai has been held by China for three years and Sweden has been super weird about it

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Gui Minhai, Martin Schibbye, Johan Persson, Peter Dahlin


Taipei-based Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson held a talk last week on the case of Gui Minhai. Gui is a Swedish citizen abducted from Thailand by the Chinese government who, beyond some limited contact with family and Swedish diplomats, has been held basically incommunicado. In fact, the talk itself coincided with the date when Gui had been officially held for exactly three years. 

The most informative part of Olsson's talk was his description of what Sweden is doing (or not doing) to get him back. While they are highly involved in closed-door, quiet talks with Chinese officials, it seems odd that these talks are indeed so "quiet": not only has the government not been in regular contact with Gui's daughter, but the case seems to be far more low-profile than it ought to.

This weird silence can be understood in comparison to the government's reaction to two other Swedish journalists who were similarly kidnapped and held for over a year in a foreign country on trumped-up charges. Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye spent over 400 days in an Ethiopian jail for essentially doing their jobs. Similarly, Gui had broken no laws in Hong Kong, where his books (which were semi-biographical tabloid fodder about Chinese leaders) were published, and was in Bangkok when he was taken. Like Persson and Schibbye, he is a Swedish citizen.

This is even more eyebrow-raising, as other European countries (most notably Germany, according to Olsson, but including much of the continent) have not only more publicly called for Gui's release, but have tried to work together to collectively take public action. And yet, Sweden stays on the path of "quiet diplomacy", even though it doesn't appear to be working. Bad publicity scares China. A few polite Swedish diplomats? Yeah I don't think so. 

But in Persson and Schibbye's case, there was an uproar in Sweden and the government much more transparently and openly feuded with Ethiopia over their detainment. What's more, Swedish officials were regularly in contact with Persson and Schibbye's family members.

Why are they raising much less of a fuss in dealing with China over Gui Minhai? Why are they not in regular contact with Angela Gui (his daughter)? When Gui was snatched a second time from a Chinese train under the noses of Swedish diplomats who were taking him to Beijing for medical care, why did the reaction seem so muted?

In the international media as well, while the case has been reported by major outlets such as the BBC and the Guardian, the average person (including the average Swedish person, I'd gather) doesn't even know that this is happening. To even your typical well-traveled educated European, the idea that China would abduct foreign nationals in foreign countries might even seem farfetched. But that's exactly what they've done.

The suggested answer is that China is a powerful country, both politically and economically. Ethiopia means little to Sweden; there are fewer risks with starting an openly critical campaign to get abducted citizens back.

I suggest an even more obvious answer. Here is a photo of Swedish citizens with Swedish names, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye:



Wikimedia Commons

And here is a photo of Swedish citizen with a Chinese name, Gui Minhai:
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A screen grab of a screen grab - not many photos are available


Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Do you think it could be...?

Yeah, I do.

The rest of Europe, as noted above, seems to understand the gravity of the situation. I have to wonder why the Swedish government doesn't.

Certainly, China wants the world to think that Gui is Chinese and this is a Chinese matter. Gui is not Chinese; he may have been born in Ningbo, but China doesn't recognize dual nationality. The day Gui became Swedish is the day he stopped being Chinese. Regardless, Chinese state thugs forced Gui to say publicly that he wanted to renounce Swedish citizenship and he "slammed the country" on television. (It is certain that this was a forced statement; there is no possibility that this is truly how Gui feels about the matter).

It is well-known that China thinks of basically every person of Chinese ancestral heritage as Chinese; their actual nationality doesn't seem to matter to the CCP. They do this by threatening Chinese students abroad, taking over Chinese-language media aimed at the diaspora and threatening loved ones who may still be in China, among other tactics.

It's also not a stretch to see that they think they can get away with holding Gui in part because he, well, looks Asian. They are betting on the rest of the world seeing this as a "Chinese" issue, not an international one, and that the world cares less about these things. Basically, China is deeply racist about such matters (thinking everyone with Chinese ancestry is Chinese and therefore subject to CCP control  no matter how many generations ago their family left is racist), but they're also betting that we are racist too: that we will care less because Gui is Asian.

Why do I say this? Well, compare China's treatment of Gui to their treatment of another Swede involved in China: Peter Dahlin. Gui published books - legally - that threatened the CCP's reputation. Dahlin is an activist who threatens the CCP by working with human rights lawyers in China.

Dahlin was released after a few weeks. Gui has been held for three years. Dahlin was taken in China, over actions he undertook in China; Gui was taken in Thailand over actions he undertook in Hong Kong.

I'll repeat myself: Peter Dahlin is white and has a European name. Gui Minhai looks Chinese and has a Chinese name.

China didn't want a disappeared European on their hands, so they let Dahlin go. They are betting on you not thinking Gui is European.

Don't believe me? They abducted another foreign citizen too: Lee Ming-che. Lee is Taiwanese, not Chinese. But his name is Lee Ming-che and he looks Asian. Lee was abducted in China, over actions that he took in Taiwan where he broke no laws.

Like Gui, the Chinese government wants you to think Lee is Chinese and that this is therefore a Chinese matter and none of your business. It is no such thing. They want you to fall back on old mental blocks - for you not to care as much about people with Asian faces.

Still don't believe me? Despite Swedish officials being fairly quiet about pressing for Gui's release, China has started a massive diplomatic row over a family of play-acting Chinese tourists and China's ambassador to Sweden is something of a grandstanding jerk: all of this (even according to Olsson) seems to be related to China's attempts to pressure Sweden to just forget Gui Minhai exists, and to shift the spotlight of the Sweden-China disagreement from a Swede abducted by China to a family of shrieking stooges.

Again: China wants you to forget about Gui Minhai, and Lee Ming-che too. They want you to see these foreign prisoners of the Chinese state as "Chinese", so you won't worry your pretty little head about them. The Swedish government, for some reason, seems to be playing along just enough to keep Gui out of the news. The result is that most people seem to be forgetting about him, if they knew he existed at all.

You, however, should do no such thing. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Talk on Gui Minhai by Swedish journalist to be held on 10/17

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Time:
October 17 (this Wednesday), 7:30pm-9pm
Location: Enspyre; 12th Floor #181 Fuxing N. Road, Songshan Dist. Taipei (section not given but it's basically near/on the Fuxing-Changchun intersection)
台北市松山區復興北路181號12樓


Top-notch Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson will be hosting a talk on the disappearance and continued detainment of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai this Wednesday.

Olsson has been holding Sweden's feet to the fire over the government's silence on Chinese government crimes against Swedish citizens for some time, and is deeply knowledgeable about these issues. He is well worth listening to and I strongly recommend attending.

Gui's disappearance affects us all. First, it shows that the Chinese government is deeply racist: it is far more likely to go after dissidents of Chinese ancestral heritage, showing that it considers all people with ancestral ties to China to essentially be "Chinese" regardless of where they actually come from, live, or are citizens. China seems to have wagered that the rest of the world doesn't care as long as the victims look Asian. I fear that they have wagered correctly.

It also shows that China's actions are not just impacting their own citizens (although prominent Chinese citizens are disappearing as well, including ones who head prominent international organizations and do not reside in China, such as disappeared Interpol chief Meng Hongwei). Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen; this issue also calls to mind Li Mingche, the Taiwanese citizen also 'disappeared' by China. Li, too, is not Chinese: he is Taiwanese, and his actions in Taiwan were entirely legal.

Even scarier is that Gui's disappearance did not happen in China - he was in Bangkok. Essentially, this means that the Chinese government does not stop at its own citizens or borders, and is certainly willing to abduct foreign nationals from other countries. It is possible - likely, even - that they attempted to do the same thing to Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong when he arrived in Bangkok, but had to release him as he was able to get word of his detainment out on social media.

This is what we're up against. This shows that, as evil as you think Western countries can be (and they certainly can be), the CCP is several orders of magnitude worse: they are crueler, more evil, and more terrifying.

Knowing more about these issues, especially if you reside in Taiwan, is absolutely worth your time. Also, you'll be supporting one of the foreign journalists whose mission it is to expose Chinese government atrocities to Western audiences and who is committed to Taiwan. We need more of those, and to support the ones we already have.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

It's like air: Tiananmen in Taipei, 2018

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Honestly, I feel the need to write about the Tiananmen Square memorial event held yesterday, June 4th not because I think I have anything unique to say about it that others couldn't, but because this year it felt so lightweight that if we don't note it down for the collective Internet memory, the event as a whole will just float away, as though it never happened. Which is, of course, exactly what the Communist Part of China wants. Nobody likes the world remembering massacres they perpetrated.

The event was mostly in Chinese, with a few speakers addressing the crowd in English. I would like to suggest here that the entire event should be bilingual, and next year's 30th anniversary event might actually make the news, so it would be smart to have translators ensuring all talks are available in English and Chinese. I can follow the Chinese, but I can imagine many foreigners in Taipei who'd be otherwise interested in attending might not, because it's not very exciting to hear speeches in a language you don't understand.

As usual, the event featured a number of speakers from a variety of activist groups across Asia, including recorded talks from Uighur activists, two speakers from Reporters Without Borders (based in Taipei) and a particularly electrifying speech by Vietnamese activist and Taipei resident Trinh Huu Long. Yu Mei-nu, Yibee Huang and Zheng Xiu-juan (Lee Ming-che's boss, although that sounds odd to say in English) were some of the Taiwanese speakers.

Zheng likened China's human rights abuses to its intractable pollution problem, saying that "human rights are like air" - when you're breathing comfortably you don't notice them, but when the pollution ratchets up to PM 2.5, you realize how vital clean air to breathe is, and suddenly you're suffocating. (I'm translating roughly from memory here).


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Zheng Xiu-juan (鄭秀娟) and Yibee Huang (黃怡碧)


There were also performances, including a memorable entrance by Taiwanese rapper Chang Jui-chuan (張睿銓), who sang one of his newer songs, Gin-a. The lyrics (in Taiwanese) discuss Taiwanese democracy movements and freedom fighters post-1949:

Killing after killing, jail after jail...
Hey kid, you must remember

Their blood and sweat, torment and sacrifice
Gave you the air you're breathing



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Empty chairs at empty tables



And that's just it - the 6/4 event, held every year, feels like a part of the air here in Taiwan. It just happens, everyone knows it happens, and they assume others will attend so they take it for granted. It's there, it's always there, maybe next year, someone will show up. I don't need to worry about it. Ugh, Monday night.

What you get, then, is an attendance rate that looks like it might have been less than 100 (but damn it, Ketagalan Media made the effort. We showed up.) Which, again, is exactly what the CCP wants - for us to forget.

In 2014 this event was huge, with camera lights stretching back into the distance and prominent Taiwanese activists showed up - including Sunflowers fresh off the high of electrifying society and about to watch the tsunami they started wash across the 2014 elections. We thought we could change Asia. We thought it was within our grasp...and now there are empty chairs stretching back, and nobody seems to notice the air they're breathing.

Some say it doesn't matter, or is odd to hold in Taiwan, as China is a different country. It's true that China and Taiwan are two different nations. What happens in China affects Taiwan, though, and hosting memorial events so close to China and in venues where a number of Chinese are likely to walk by does make a difference, if a small one. We're on the front lines in the fight against China's encroaching territorial and authoritarian expansionism, so it means something to take a stand - even a small one - here.

In 2016 an entire group of Chinese tourists walked right past the event - this year, someone seems to have ensured that wouldn't happen again. For once, Dead Dictator Memorial Hall was completely devoid of Chinese tour groups and I doubt that was a coincidence. What I'm saying is, somebody noticed.

It also serves as a reminder that Taiwan is not China - we can and do hold these events here, and we do so freely and without fear. We talk about our history, as Chang does in Gin-A. We discuss our common cause, as democracy activists from across Asia did last night. What we do - let's not forget human rights abuses that happen in Taiwan - may not perfectly align with what we stand for, but we talk about it, and we have the space and air we need to work toward something better. In China you can't breathe at all.

But the people who died at Tiananmen 29 years ago are among those whose sacrifice may eventually give China the air it needs to breathe - though I grow less sure that it might happen in my lifetime. Fighters like Lee Ming-che, thrust into the national spotlight and just as quickly forgotten even in Taiwan, give Taiwan the air it needs to breathe. We give ourselves air and beat back the oppressive particulates trying to suffocate us, by standing up for what's right and refusing to forget the massacres of the past.

We must remember. We can't let this event float away on the air, as though it doesn't matter, or it doesn't matter for Taiwan. It absolutely does.

I mean, I get it - I'd like to feel totally safe knowing my freedom and guaranteed access to human rights was not in question. I'd like to sit on the couch and eat Doritos and not even worry about it, because I don't have to. It's tiring to keep showing up. Unfortunately, Taiwan really is on the front line, and we can't do that - we can't pretend it doesn't (or shouldn't) matter.

Next year is the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Mark your calendar now, make sure you're free, and show up.

Monday, September 18, 2017

On China's event horizon and screaming into the void

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Yesterday was my birthday. I turned...well, ancient. That's fine. As a friend pointed out, life keeps getting better, so there's no reason to complain about not being that young anymore. I did all the things that I love to do: seeing friends, organizing things (I completely cleaned and organized my spice shelf, labeling all of the weirder flavorings I've bought in packets and put in jars - sumac, dried lavender, juniper berries, gentian root, black salt, kalonji...), eating Indian food (we went to mik'sutras, the newest offering from the fantastic Mayur Indian Kitchen - review coming soon) and, of course, attending protests.

So, before dinner, we participated in China! Free Li!, dutifully donning red shirts (mine was emblazoned with University of Exeter, because that's the only red t-shirt I have) and going to the Central Culture Park (中央藝文公園) near Shandao Temple to help spell out the words "China! Free Li!" on the grass.

I don't think I need to pretend I'm a real journalist and cover the particulars of the protest: you can read about that here, here and here. I'm even quoted in Storm Media about it (link in Chinese).

What I want to say is this:

I'm perfectly aware that this protest will amount to exactly nothing. Lee Ming-che's "trial" is a joke, the verdict pre-determined. China has set up a toy train with tracks that only run in one direction, and there is little we can do if we're not in the government to derail it. China is not going to free Lee just because we spelled out letters asking it to, nor is the Taiwanese government going to alter its (probably correct) strategy of working to bring him home in a behind-the-scenes way.

Literally not one thing will change as a result of my or any of us attending yesterday. Lee's case and human rights generally in China are a void into which we scream. We are not heard, and there can be no reply because a reply would require some sort of human or collective conscience or system of ethics, and the Chinese government has proven that it possesses neither. By attending, we primarily make ourselves feel better.

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We can "make statements", "send a message", "call on" China, "rally" in support, and all of it is about as useful as writing our statements "calling on China" on construction paper and mailing them in envelopes addressed to "Santa at the North Pole" and waiting for a response.

That's not to say that protests are never useful. Around the world, they have been instrumental in effecting change, although they are rarely the primary force behind that change. The civil rights movement in the United States did not succeed in changing laws and minds primarily because they marched. They succeeded because underneath that a long, hard, quiet campaign of registering black voters, lobbying, petitioning and other forms of less-visible activism created the undercurrent necessary to bring about that change.

What protests do is put all of the activism that actually accomplishes something into the public eye, perhaps providing a catalyst moment, perhaps not, but at least creating some visibility.

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The question is, visibility to whom?

The People's Republic of China is a vacuum - a black hole devoid of any sort of moral or ethical rightness - that is trying to suck up everything on its periphery. Black holes don't listen. They can't listen. They lack the humanity to do so. The government of China, while comprised of human beings, is not humane. There can be no visibility in a system where all light is sucked into blackness, where no light escapes.

I don't even think I'm being melodramatic. It is really that bad. The situation is truly that dire. They aim to not only eradicate the concept of human rights in China, but the world. They aim to force the CCP's amoral, ethics-free, humanity-free way of looking at the world onto the rest of us - and we aren't paying attention - we don't see it coming because they're not using guns to do it.

Taiwan is close to China's event horizon, and yet, outside of Taiwan's activist circles few seem to think this is an immediate threat. We aren't going to be sucked in tomorrow, or this year, or even next year, but black holes know nothing but sucking, and they are going to keep sucking until we - and everything we stand for - no longer exists.

Those are the people I want to see this - that is the visibility I desire. They're the ones I want to hear about this case and the more general threat from China. They are the ones who, as they go about their lives - although I thrive on worry and agitation, I wouldn't want to take from anyone the ability to have worry-free days where they are not terrified for the fate of their country at every moment - should keep in mind that this is a more general threat, and to vote and be prepared to fight accordingly.

I want them to know what it would mean to be on China's event horizon - it means a fate similar to that of Hong Kong. Does Taiwan want a shell democracy in which China decides who stands for election, disbarring and even imprisoning anyone whose beliefs don't fit their narrative? Do they want a shell press where journalists and writers theoretically have freedom, but in actuality are kidnapped, tortured and killed by faceless thugs?

 The Chinese government will hear nothing because voids do not hear, they only exist as a place where sound dies. But the people of Taiwan and much of the rest of the world still possess their right minds and senses. They can see and hear. They are the ones I want to reach, the ones I want to start thinking and act accordingly.

I want them to know that these issues exist, and people care about them. I don't want them to think that Lee, or China generally, are not a threat because people are apathetic. I want them and the world to know we are paying attention and perhaps get some of them to pay attention, too.

It is doubtful that the rest of the world will notice this small protest. I wouldn't even expect them to. But if Taiwan notices, and the rest of the world notices that Taiwan's vision of the future is fundamentally incompatible with China's, that will be one positive long-term outcome.

So I didn't attend China Free Li because I thought it would actually help free Lee Ming-che, or because I thought it would send a strong message to China. Fuck China.

I did it to send a strong message to Taiwan. 

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So after Miao Poya speaks and while everyone's clapping, I shouted "we love you, Miao Poya!"
I'm not sure if I hope she heard me. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

China is unforgivably two-faced when it comes to Lee Ming-che, Taiwan and the world

Earlier this year, I was on my way to Exeter via London, staying with friends who live in the area. We were hanging out around the dining table, with their 1-year-old son sitting at the narrow end.

He was doing what 1-year-olds often do, that is to day, whimpering and unhappily yapping at his parents, throwing his food around and making a bit of a mess. You couldn't even get mad - he's one. That's what they do - they lack the self-control to do better.

But then he turned his head to look at me, put on his most charming smile and giggled at me with sparkling eyes, like the sweetest boy who ever was.

He either didn't realize or didn't care that I had been sitting there the whole time and had seen exactly how he'd been acting toward his parents.

This story is relevant to Taiwan-China relations and the Lee Ming-che case in particular. Why?

Well, I've written it up here, in my first article for Ketagalan Media. Have a look!