Showing posts with label ma_yingjiu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ma_yingjiu. Show all posts

Friday, September 21, 2018

Yes, Ko is using Xi's language on "one family"

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 9.29.56 AM
from ETToday

A piece by former Sunflower leader Lin Fei-fan came out today, warning of Ko's embrace of Xi Jinping's and China's oft-repeated phrase, "the two sides of the Strait are one family", essentially calling Ko's seeming doublespeak on China a strategy out of the Ma Ying-jeou playbook: insisting he's not pro-unification and then acting the opposite.

I'm already anticipating the criticism that'll flow in over such a prominent figure in Taiwanese Third Force politics essentially taking a shot at Ko as the Taipei mayoral election nears and no better pro-Taiwan candidates are running (or arguably, none who could actually win Taipei exist).

One thing in particular I expect to hear, which I'd like to dismantle right now, is the idea that Ko's and Xi's exact wording don't match: that Xi uses "兩岸一家人" (a translation of "one family" that implies a single household or very immediate relatives) and Ko uses "兩岸一家親" which implies a more distant familial relation, like cousins: the idea being that you can share ancestors or be related, but not be under the same household.

However, CRNTT/China Review News/台灣中評, essentially Chinese state-sponsored media in Taiwan and Hong Kong, published a lengthy article on the 19th Party Congress in 2017, in which the latter phrase - the one used by Ko - is explicitly quoted as being used by Xi:


My rough translation: "The two sides of the strait are one family" is a new concept for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations actively promoted by General Secretary Xi Jinping. This new concept is extremely rich in content. The basis of the phrase "two sides of the strait are one family" is that both sides of the strait belong to one nation. This policy towards Taiwan is to use "family" rhetoric and logic to "reconcile hearts" and deal more flexibly with the Taiwan issue, cross-strait differences, and benefit Taiwan. The "cross-strait family" concept requires compatriots on both sides of the strait to trust each other, support each other, continuously expand cross-strait exchanges, smooth the scars of history in the development of integration, and jointly advance the historic process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.


Anyway, that's what Chinese media in Taiwan is saying. It's useful to get a sense of what the Chinese government thinks, and they are explicitly using the exact same phrase as Ko: not 一家人, but 一家親. Here's another source from ETToday and another from China Times (pan-blue/pro-China media in Taiwan) which contains extensive quotes from Xi. Here's an English translation of Xi's words in 2017. You have to dig, as this wasn't one of the top points of his address, but it's there.

Basically, it seems as though Xi used the old phrasing  (一家人) up through about 2013, then switched to the newer one echoed by Ko after that (一家親), while occasionally switching back to the more 'immediate family' (一家人) translation. However, both retain the same translation in English.

I am sure that China does this sort of thing intentionally - taking words that have subtle, hard to parse translations in other languages  and twisting them to suit their own ends. Because it's hard to explain these things in English, those who don't know Mandarin buy too easily into CCP-approved ways of thinking about these concepts.  Another key example is the way they allow confusion to blossom over the concept of 華人 (Chinese, as in, something from Chinese culture) and 中國人 (from the nation called 'China'): essentially trying to control the debate about what it means to be 'Chinese' by equating it linguistically with anything 'Chinese' being 'a part of China'. Both words, however, translate as 'Chinese' and it's difficult to explain the difference unless you learn the language. It's also difficult for people who don't want to be lumped in under the CCP's idea of what it means to be 'Chinese' to use these words.

"一家親" in its "extended family (not necessarily of one household)" context might have been embraced by many Taiwanese, just as having Chinese cultural heritage (華人) might have been. Now, you can't say those things - you can't express an opinion that you are proud of your Chinese ancestry but don't want to be a part of China - without sounding like a unificationist. That suits some people very well indeed.

Note, in fact, that these points on the Chinese renderings of the phrase "two sides of the strait are one family" are not included in Lin's article: there's just too much you'd have to say to make it clear, and you'd lose readers' interest. It takes up valuable digital real estate - but the fact that it is so hard to discuss in other languages is exactly the point.

Some might ask whether Ko really means to echo Xi and China in his choice of words. I don't know - he's the kind of person who would stumble into this sort of thing unintentionally, having a tendency, not think too much about how he comes across when he talks. He tends to stumble around answers to questions he really should see coming and have rehearsed, polished answers to, but apparently doesn't - not that I generally find Taiwanese politics very polished, mind you.

There's also the terrifying fact that Ko's milquetoast KMT opponent Ting Shou-chung uses the old, even more pro-unification "兩岸一家人" - a sign that Ting, not Ko, is the one in China's pocket? That both are useful idiots, blathering pro-China rhetoric that may sound different to Taiwanese voters but is seen in exactly the same way as China - and that this is intentional on China's part? That Ting is using the phrase in a bid to get the KMT back into the CCP's good graces - they miss their Daddy it seems - but the CCP has decided Ko is a better bet? I don't know.

But Lin puts forward a convincing case that we should at least keep our eye on Ko, and hold him accountable for his words: that CCTV seems to endorse him, and that China certainly is looking to co-opt Third Force and third-party politicians in Taiwan as it sees its inability to push its agenda forward through the KMT, and that his city-level exchanges with Shanghai are problematic. While he doesn't say so explicitly, the CCP's use of specific terminology is very deliberate. These exact phrases - like 兩岸一家人/一家親, or 中華民族偉大復興的歷史進程 ("the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation") - are significant to them and are generally deployed using exactly the same language each time. They are signals, to some extent dog whistles to those they've co-opted. If Xi has changed his wording, Ko is using it too (and defending that use), the phrase seems to have been given prominence above the language of the so-called "1992 Consensus, and CCTV is happy about all of this, it could very well mean something.

This isn't to say that I think Ko is a unificationist. He strikes me as more of a too-smart-for-his-own-good catspaw or useful idiot. It wouldn't be the first time a seeming pan-green loyalist was manipulated into doing the CCP's bidding, but I don't know what motivates Ko. All I can do is point out that, when it comes down to the very specific terminology put out by the CCP, Ko's words do in fact match up.

I certainly don't think Taiwanese voters will embrace this "one family" doctrine either: when it comes to actual sentiments of most Taiwanese people, Ko's words are not as divisive as some may believe. Just because he's selling potentially problematic ideas doesn't mean the electorate is buying them.

Some will probably say Lin is trying to tank Ko's re-election. If you read between the lines of what Lin is saying, however, it's not that we should not elect Ko. I would bet CA$H money that he fully expects Ko to win, and that he's fully aware that Yao's a joke who doesn't stand a chance and Ting is far worse a choice than Ko. Ting's clearly anti-independence stance is a huge problem, and Yao's off partying like it's 1999, naming Chen Shui-bian (yes, that Chen Shui-bian) his "supreme advisor". LOL.

I'd bet a full case of wine that Lin's goal is to get the world to look more closely at Ko and hold him to account for his words, but not necessarily to refuse to vote for him. He's someone who pokes holes in establishment narratives and criticizes where criticism is due, regardless of the consequences. That's often (though perhaps not always) a good thing.

I am sure he doesn't believe that Taiwanese voters will suddenly go pro-China either: several times in the piece it points out that the KMT is not likely to regain its lost popularity, and that Ko's words on China do not echo the sentiments of the Taiwanese people. His concern is that the Taiwanese people are deliberately ignoring his words out of convenience, for lack of a better candidate, and that's a dangerous path to follow (see: Ma Ying-jeou).

I'm not sure this is the best way to make the case for Taiwan in English in international media, as it's really something for Taiwanese voters to think about and Taiwan gets limited screen time on any media outlet. The rest of the world is confused enough by China's consistently winning the rhetoric war on the China-Taiwan debate (though less so these days), and needs to hear a clear, clarion-bright call bringing the case for Taiwan: not muddy, difficult, unclear domestic political situations that Taiwan is trying to hash out itself. I'd like to see more 'clear cases for Taiwan' and less 'domestic Taiwanese politics' for global readers.

But that doesn't mean Lin is wrong.

And every time the 1992 Consensus is called out for the pro-China garbage it is in English-language media, the better. I am only sad that the word "fabrication" was not used, because that's what it is. More of that, please.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Guess who thinks the government is being "fascist"

The former president

Right, this guy. 

Remember him? (The one in the middle, before he started to look like a white decorative gourd).

“After the DPP gained control of both the executive and legislative branches of government, it has completely transformed into a fascist regime. As the party in power, it has been persecuting the opposition and making the public foot its bills,” Ma said.


No, like, seriously lol.

How much of a jag-off do you have to be to not see the hypocrisy of this statement?

This guy, apparently.

Yeah, this guy.

That's the one.


The one who pays tearful homages to a former dictator as though he were a great man. 

The guy who worked for actual literal no-exaggeration dictators, who now acts like they worked tirelessly in service to Taiwan, who cultivated an image of being squeaky clean while being corrupt the whole time, the one who used his tenure as president to ram all sorts of garbage through the legislature and then lose his temper like a big fat baby when the people stood up and said "enough". The one accused of working professionally to report on opponents of the Chiang dictatorship while a student at Harvard. The one who, despite knowing full well the horrors Taiwan has experienced at the hands of the KMT, talked about the "moral principles" of the party that have guided them "for the past 120 years". As though most of those years were not spent as a brutal dictatorship helmed by a murderous despot.

Sure, whatever, okay bro.

What I can't get over is that in 2012 the voters chose him for re-election over now-president Tsai. I think it might have been on account of his having a penis, but also the tendency of Taiwan to re-elect its leaders and choose the seemingly safest way forward in terms of who they put into the highest office had something to do with it.

Four years later they were all "oops sorry lol the nerdy lady was better after all" and elected her, and the guy everyone now hates for acting quite literally like a minor warlord in a feudal society is bitching about her being the problem?

And this ostensibly not-as-bad-a-guy agreed with him, for some fucking reason:

KMT Legislator and former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) read a statement with other KMT lawmakers at his side.
“It is essential for a democracy to practice the separation of powers and democratic principles. The Legislative Yuan is the Republic of China’s national assembly, not the Executive Yuan’s lawmaking bureau,” he read.

Dude. DUDE. The former president, who is in the same party as you, literally violated that exact principle vis-a-vis you by trying to oust you as speaker for being insufficiently obedient to his demands.

And he didn't even succeed because he's just that impotent.

And you are saying that Tsai is not practicing separation of powers between the legislature and executive?

I mean...

Like, how do you not lol at that?

Anyway it's interesting that now that they are the opposition, suddenly the party of (formerly) actual literal fascism who opened new boundaries when it came to subverting democracy is whining and crying like little babies about the party the people elected to replace them being "fascists" and has suddenly cultivated a deep love and reverence for democracy, all because they're not happy that the party currently in power is acting within the law in a way they happen not to like. The same party that stole left and right from the country and is now blubbering because they've been told they have to give it all back.

All I can say is that I don't know why I still loathe Ma to such an irrational degree, even now, but it might have something to do with his continued garbaging up of Taiwanese public discourse with this trash nonsense. He just can't take a hint that everybody sees through his melty waxen face mask to the cold dead eyes inside, and knows him now for the weasel he is. 

Shut up, Ma Ying-jiu. Go home, nobody likes you and nobody wants to hear your garbage.

*unconfirmed, but who even cares

Saturday, April 1, 2017

In defense of Ma Ying-jiu

In the past few months, I've been reflecting on the legacy of Ma Ying-jiu, and have come to the realization that perhaps we've all been a little too hard on him. While not perfect, it does seem clear to me that former President Ma was not the monster or failed statesman, better suited to being the butt of a joke than leading a nation, than many people make him out to be now that we are well into the Tsai administration.

You're probably wondering why I would start thinking this way, considering the way I, too, unfairly excoriated Mr. Ma for years. So, here are a few reasons why:

First, it's unfair to say that Ma's ultimate goal and vision for Taiwan was reunification with China. It's obvious that this is not the case: at no point during his tenure as leader of Taiwan did Taiwan reunify with China. Therefore, Ma preserved Taiwanese de facto independence through responsible and staid leadership based on sound communication and negotiation strategies with the mainland.

It's also clear that Ma was a competent steward of the Taiwanese economy, by pursuing clear-cut and proven economic strategies vis-a-vis China. Reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait by not angering China was a responsible decision on Ma's part, which the current administration of Taiwan would be wise to heed. Greater economic cooperation between the two sides is, of course, beneficial for all, and the electorate's choice of Ma to lead the island shows the clear-eyed pragmatism of Taiwanese voters. Indeed, since leaving office, Ma's hard work to bolster the struggling economy have been hurt by the ending of group tours from China on the part of newly-elected opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen.

While it is true that Taiwan's economy stagnated somewhat during Ma's two terms, from an analytical perspective, it is clear that the economic damage of not engaging with China would have been far more deleterious to Taiwan's future economic and political prospects.

Ma was also a responsible steward of Taiwanese democracy, as evidenced by unequalled political stability in Taiwan, something that was in short supply in the territory through the twentieth century. During the tumultuous Sunflower occupation of the legislature, Ma's clear-eyed and peace-oriented handling of the situation meant that no violence erupted as a result. This was by far the most problematic event in Taiwan's post-war history, after decades of stable economic development that eventually led the once-authoritarian KMT to nurture democracy on the island.

Beyond that, Ma was very forward-thinking, always considering the well-being of Taiwan first. It is clear that Taiwan has neither the offensive or defensive military capabilities for any major conflict with China, and Ma wisely kept Taiwan on a conservative course by not attempting to re-take the mainland, sagely conceding that reunification would be the business of future generations of Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Ma was also the first president of the Republic of China to meet Chinese president Xi Jin-ping. Their historic and consequential meeting was of great importance for the future of cross-strait relations.

Clearly, continuing the pursuit of peace and avoiding causing trouble with the mainland is in Taiwan's best interest, as China might be angered by any moves toward formal independence by self-ruled Chinese Taipei. This has been the goal of leadership in Taiwan since 1949, when China and Taiwan split following the Nationalists' defeat in China. The autonomous region of Taiwan must consider this as it looks to the future and considers new paths of policy and negotiation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Black Island: A Review

So, over the course of June and July, with long breaks to research and write an article on learner autonomy through note management that will be published in September, I read J. Michael Cole's Black Island: Two Years of Activism in Taiwan. This came right on the heels of Officially Unofficial, which I appreciated for its perspectives on Taiwanese society and politics that I had also witnessed in the past ten years here.

All in all, I liked Black Island more than Officially Unofficial - first of all, it was free of the ridiculously irritating "using the third person to talk about oneself" narrative employed by its predecessor. It focused more on events in recent Taiwanese history rather than the author himself, which was a boon because, although I have nothing against J. Michael Cole, I am more interested in Taiwanese political history and current affairs than I am the personal history of a journalist I happen to have read. Being lightly annotated republishings of previous work, the present tense (employed because that's what those stories used for obvious reasons) gave the narrative a sense of urgency and contemporariness rather than feeling like "history" (and, in fact, the events documented didn't happen that long ago). The present-tense tone gives one the feeling, while reading, that these events are happening as you are reading it - it makes you want to go to Dapu and protest, rail against the destruction of the Huaguang Community or surround the Legislative Yuan yet again. Then you remember, no, this is all a few years in the past. It's 2016 now, Taiwanese society has processed these ideas and is looking to the future. You, the reader, must do the same. The interesting question that Black Island leaves open - as it must - is what happens next.

Like Officially Unofficial, Black Island was a good chance to go back and review my memories of the past few years of Taiwanese politics, and pick up on threads, ideas and smaller events I'd missed. Having, as I mentioned before, been more concerned with completing my teaching degree than being fully invested and informed of Taiwanese affairs, there are things I missed. I was more intellectually present during the actual Sunflower occupation - but I think that electrified and reawakened quite a few people; I'm not unique in that regard. I hadn't had a Delta course going on at that particular time, and I actually spent a great deal of time outside the Legislative Yuan, including heading down after work and staying until the MRT was about to close for several evenings in a row. I wasn't there to report on events, however - I was there to support the students. I enjoyed going back and reading (in some cases for the second time) actual reporting on the events of those weeks.

For someone who had already read a lot of the work published in Black Island (I experienced a distinct sense of deja vu several times not only because I had been in Taiwan when those events took place but because I had in fact already read that exact same article two to four years ago), it is a fairly strong compliment to say that it held my interest upon re-reading.

Finally, this is neither a point in favor of or against the book but, as it triggers interesting thought, I think it fits in the "good" section: Cole's work mentions more than once the idea of civic nationalism over ethnic nationalism beginning to take root in Taiwan. It can hardly do differently, not only because there are "ethnic" (if the entire concept of ethnicity means anything, and depending on where you draw the lines) differences in Taiwan itself, between waishengren and Hoklo, "Chinese" and aborigine as well as Southeast Asian immigrant, that must be overcome to realize the idea of Taiwan as a nation, but also because as much as many won't admit it, Taiwan is very ethnically similar to China (again, if ethnicity means anything at all). To differentiate itself from China Taiwan simply cannot turn to an ethnic base for their desire for self-determination as an independent nation. It must turn to a civic one; there is no other reasonable path...
...but this is not the main reason why I find discussion of that concept interesting. Instead, I am invested in it primarily as an immigrant in Taiwan. I call myself an immigrant because, while I am not a citizen and retain something of an American identity, if I had a reasonable chance at citizenship (the double standard of being forced to give up one's original citizenship to attain Taiwanese nationality, while Taiwanese are under no such edict, is simply neither reasonable nor acceptable) I would be highly likely to seek it, and because I have no real plans to return to the USA. It is true that we may leave someday for professional reasons or because we face difficulties as non-citizens, but it is unlikely that the country we'd leave for would be the one we come from.

If Taiwanese identity is one of civic rather than ethnic identity, and therefore anyone who buys into, contributes to and participates in that identity can be "Taiwanese" even if they can never be ethnically Chinese, then the next logical step is to relax immigration and naturalization laws. This affects me directly, for reasons stated above. It has the potential to change on a fundamental level how I relate myself and my past to Taiwan and life in it. To legitimize, to some extent, the contributions I want to make and the participation I would like to offer. To see Taiwan as a home that genuinely wants people like me here and feels we help rather than hinder the nation's progress.

Right now I have to admit that while I feel welcome here, it is not uncommon for events in my life to give me the feeling that Taiwan wants me to come and teach their people English and wants to give me very little in return, and certainly doesn't want me to assimilate or stay permanently or have a say in political goings-on that do affect my life. A "nation of ethnic Taiwanese" is not likely to see people like me differently. A Taiwan that values civic over ethnic nationalism, however, is one that might.

This is, again, why I am disappointed that the party of young activists, who seemed to be the most likely to welcome immigrants like me, instead want to keep us on the fringes. Yes, I will say it again and I will ever, ever, ever, ever shut up about it until things change. They are the direct results of the events described in Black Island, and so far they have not been great allies to the logical conclusion of civic vs. ethnic nationalism.

Anyway. There are some things I didn't like about Black Island, but I'd say they are considerably fewer and markedly less annoying than in Officially Unofficial.

The first is that, as this is a collection of previously published journalism, as is often the case when one journalist covers related or ongoing events, there is quite a bit of repetition. Editing some of that out would have made for a stronger narrative.

My husband pointed out, and I agree, that the little interlude of pieces focusing on the fight for marriage equality felt a bit jarring in its discontinuity. I would have rather seen either the book divided not only chronologically but also by events. What I ended up doing was skipping the middle section at first, reading straight through the student activist/Sunflower narrative, and then going back and reading about marriage equality and the outsize influence of churches with evangelical ties in Taiwan. It made for a much cleaner narrative.

I would have also liked even more detail on the actual Sunflower occupation, but I suppose I can read a history textbook for that. A bit of a deeper look into the Next Media acquisition would have also been of interest to me.

Brendan also noted that if you are looking for stories about other events of that time - such as the tussle between Ma Ying-jiu and Wang Jin-ping for power within the KMT, you won't find it here. I understand why, but I actually think the story would have been strengthened by including such seemingly unrelated events. In fact, as the Sunflowers and a few political commentators understood at the time and as most people understand now, Ma Ying-jiu having both KMT chairmanship and the presidency, and using that double-barreled power to not only twist arms to get the Legislative Yuan to rubber-stamp his increasingly autocratic-seeming demands, but for the president to try to fire the speaker of an entirely separate branch of government because he wasn't falling sufficiently in line was nothing short of a constitutional crisis.

If you think this attempted ouster of Wang and the power grab that represented was not done in part with forcing passage of the CSSTA, without proper review, in mind, perhaps you are not paying attention. I wouldn't say CSSTA was the only goal of that attempted consolidation of authority, but it was certainly one of them. One directly relates to the other. The smartest activists and commentators understand this, though they don't always elaborate on it because it feels like something of a rhetorical cul-de-sac. Pointing this out would have made the book that much stronger.

Finally, I did feel that a few asides in which Cole expressed more personal views and ideas detracted from the overall narrative. For instance, his rant about cell phones on the MRT and the feeling I get that he feels he has the right to pass judgment on how people pass their commuting time or other downtime. While I agree that using one's various electronic devices to keep abreast of current events, maintain professional and social ties and engage with the wider world is preferably to using it to playing Angry Fruit Crush or whatever, it doesn't matter. We all have our vices and our stupid things we like and it's just not a great path to go down to judge that. I'm sure Cole loves some music I hate or owns a shirt I think is stupid or has a habit I find a waste of time. So what? It's not for me to judge. Besides, while at the height of stress working toward the Delta, I played game after game of iPhone solitaire (I am nothing if not an electronic game traditionalist, also, I'm an Old). Why? It helped me de-stress, gave my mind something else to concentrate on without taxing it too much, and was almost meditative in its repetitiveness. It helped mentally. Don't judge.

The multiple references to hired thugs or other "unsavory" types as "high on betel nut" or as tattooed, smoking, beer drinking betel nut chewers were also off-putting. When talking of actual hired thugs you don't really need to treat their appearance or lowbrow habits as damning evidence - treat what they actually do as evidence. I would be willing to bet just as many tattooed betel-nut chewers showed up to support the Sunflowers. What substances they imbibe or what they choose to put on their bodies is simply not the point and reeks of condescending classism. There is just no reason to do it.

Two little extra things: I agree with Brendan about the lack of translation for quotes in Chinese. We can read them (perhaps with the help of the Chinese dictionary on my - gasp! - iPhone at times) but I would gather many can't. An editor would really help with these sorts of issues. And I really didn't need to read two or more (I didn't count) references to Cole being definitely straight and not gay at all. I literally could not care less if he prefers hot dogs or hamburgers. Doesn't matter and not relevant to the story.

 But, these are relatively minor complaints. The overarching narrative is interesting - and perhaps would be even more interesting to someone who hadn't read these articles when they were originally published - and would be a useful addition to the research of a political science student learning about student activism in Taiwan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

WILDLY SPECULATING about the lack of women in the Tsai cabinet

Please enjoy this random photo I took that I happen to like

The difficult thing about trying to have something of a niche in the Taiwan blogging world is that sometimes you don't necessarily have a lot to say about the latest news in your niche other than "well that sucks".

I mean, I could try to salvage a bright side and note that when the highest office in the land is occupied for a woman, that's a victory no matter what, but I'm not feelin' it and you probably aren't either. We do expect more, for good reason.

It happened with Hung Hsiu-chu's short-lived candidacy and it's happening again with the Tsai administration's new "no girls allowed" cabinet, which people are pointing out mostly because, as Taiwan's first female president, they expected a little more gender equality in said cabinet because they expected an administration to be sensitive to such things (if President Ma had a cabinet with very few women, many people would probably just chalk it up to Ma being an asshat and be done with it).

Can I just note in that podcast, which starts talking about gender imbalances at about the 28-29 minute mark, I was a little annoyed by a female speaker call it the worst "Mother's Day present to women"? Not all women are mothers. What does Mother's Day have to do with women generally? Not much.

All I really have to say is "well that sucks"- and the cabinet overall, in terms of age and education, also kinda sucks.

Of course, from my memory of the Tsai campaign, although the first time around I came across stickers and other promotional materials touting her as "Taiwan's first female president" in the 2012 campaign she lost, I just don't remember seeing much about her campaigning specifically on that idea or drawing attention to her gender much at all. Certainly I don't remember her promising a gender-equitable cabinet.

Or did she, and I just missed that? Please do remember I spent a huge chunk of 2015 in the US for family reasons, and returning I was so busy I didn't have time to catch up on the political scene, so I missed a lot. If so, it's a straight-up broken promise.

But, then again, maybe I didn't miss anything. It seems to me her gender, and not her words, created that expectation and when she went and acted like any ol' politician with a penis, it was that expectation, the ones we created, that were dashed. I'm not sure she herself gave any indication that she would specifically be a force for gender equality beyond being a woman herself. The podcast says something like "we expected she could break the glass ceiling for all women", but did Tsai ever say she was going to do that, make an effort on that or focus on that?

I'm genuinely asking, because, as I said, I wasn't here for much of 2015 and paying more attention to family than Taiwan.

That's not meant as a defense - I happen to think any presidential candidate regardless of gender should have a gender equitable cabinet. Tsai is not exempt from that because or despite the fact that she's female. While I would hope a president who understands the obstacles women face just for being women would be more sensitive to the issue, I hold male politicians just as accountable.

Well, I say that, but I didn't write any of this when Ma was elected and re-elected, even though (while Tsai's cabinet has an even bigger gender imbalance) it's not like the Ma administration was this huge pro-women revolution or seemed to care much about women's representation in government. So maybe I'm a hypocrite.

I'm not sure why, and while a lot has been reported on it, nobody else seems to really know why either. I haven't heard much in the way of reasons for this, even in the podcast where there is criticism, and dismay, but almost nothing deeper, nothing in the way of analysis for how this happened - perhaps because nobody knows.

But not knowing never stopped me from shooting off my mouth before, so I'll speculate wildly and inexpertly because what the hell.

1.) Edited to add: the most obvious possibility, which I didn't really consider because (thanks to my own biases) I just sort of assumed Tsai would have a strong hand in who went into the cabinet. But, she may well have just rubber-stamped Lin Chuan's choices. I didn't really consider this one because I assumed (possibly wrongly?) that if Tsai is ultimately appoints the cabinet that the final responsibility and blame for who is in that cabinet rests with her (also I tend to ignore Lin Chuan because I feel like he's setting himself up to do a bad job...perhaps I just wish he didn't exist?). Or perhaps - despite my earlier claim to try and not have any biases and to hold male and female elected officials equally accountable for gender parity in government, in fact I did automatically lay blame on the woman rather than the (can I say kind of terrible? Is it too early for that? I really don't like him) man.

2.)As a former policy wonk without much executive experience, perhaps she just didn't think this one through. That sounds lightweight, but in fact it's pretty damning. A good leader must think these things through.

3.) As a woman fighting against an overwhelmingly pro-man, anti-woman sexist system, perhaps she has developed a mindset in which, well, she acts like the men around her. It's not that uncommon, especially for women in power, to try to secure and establish their positions by, at times subconsciously, acting and thinking more like the men around them. Not because it's particularly natural for women to follow men (it's not) but because it's natural for people to want to fit into their environs, and when the environment is such a damn sausage fest, perhaps you start to think like you have some sausage yourself.

4.) Perhaps, unlike the somewhat unconscious 'gotta fit in, gotta think like them' mentality above, this is a conscious effort to take emphasis off her gender and establish herself as an authority, to even maybe distance herself from 'women's issues'? Like "they'll all expect me to be 'women this and women that' rather than listening to me on the 1992 consensus, the Senkakus, international organization participation, the economy and more so I'll cut that off early by not showing women any special consideration." If so, it backfired spectacularly!

5.) Some combination of (4) and (5) or landing somewhere in between has led her to a slightly askance viewpoint in which insisting to the point of going beyond logic that only credentials matter and gender never does - which of course is true, or is true in a perfect world, but as this points out (in Chinese), so often 'gender doesn't matter, only credentials matter, if the most qualified people are men then the majority of the cabinet will be men' is taken as a launch point not to fight for greater equality because credentialed people exist in diverse and less-privileged populations, but to keep the patriarchy firmly in place and let the system run as usual. 

Seeing as previous cabinets (under men!) had more women than this one, clearly women with the right credentials exist. This cabinet could have been more gender-equal. Saying "well they got the most qualified people they could and they happen to be men" papers over that with, well, illogic and falsehood.

Also worth noting is that this can't possibly be the 'most qualified cabinet' to run Taiwan as it exists today: a country that is finally starting to listen to its youth. When the average age of your cabinet is closer to my father's than it is to mine (and I'm not particularly young though I like to pretend otherwise) in a country where student activists are a big effin' deal, then your cabinet is not qualified to properly represent the country.

(I'm not quite as worried about the lack of PhDs compared to previous cabinets, in part because I don't think education is necessarily the only way to become a great statesperson, in part because Taiwan already has a lot of respect, and quite a few, very highly educated people making high-level decisions - they do love their scholar-leaders - and in part because we all remember what happened when MENSA tried to run Springfield).

Though that brings me to a pretty solid silver lining that my previous contemplations failed to provide: at least the public discourse surrounding this issue is pretty solid in Taiwan. Taiwan civil society for the win! I'm not sure I'd expect discourse like this to be the rule rather than the exception in many other countries (I thought of Asia when I said that but I have to be honest - including my own. The USA is full of man-children).

So, I guess I'll end on that.

Come on Tsai. Do better.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Everyone go ahead and read these remarks from Emperor President Ma:

The KMT is a party local to Taiwan, it is progressive and forward-looking, practical and responsible, and it is a diverse party that is willing to embrace changing times.
…people spread across Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu might have come from different places and have different histories, but the acceptance of multicultural society is what makes Taiwan precious.
The Aborigines may believe in ancestral spirits and rainbow bridges, the earlier Han immigrants remember the sadness inherent in their relocation to Taiwan, the people following the Nationalist government to Taiwan in 1949 remembered having to leave their homes and families behind, while the newer immigrants — such as foreign spouses — have the hope that over time this land will become their home. No matter who came first, no matter where we had come from, we are now all Taiwanese.
On this land, people of any culture and ethnicity are welcome to work side by side, to sweat and toil over the common goal of making Taiwan better; the embracing of multiple diverse cultures is the cornerstone of democracy.
We are the most localized of all political parties. Any supporter of the KMT would be able to walk tall and say: ‘I’m Taiwanese, I support the KMT.'
Now, remember that the KMT is in fact a party from China, and not only that, an invading force from China (although I don't hold that against the everyday folks who came over from China in the '40s, who were just looking to get out of China and stay alive, I do hold it against the political arm of the KMT - and if you don't think the KMT has any other arms, you aren't looking very hard). Remember that the KMT has annexation sorry "reunification" dreams for Taiwan and as such, does not respect Taiwanese sovereignty or identity. Remember that while they do tend to win the Hakka and aboriginal vote, as the DPP's early "we are the party of Hoklo people" strategy alienated those groups and, despite doing more for them overall, still hasn't managed to win them back, that they identify as Chinese and tend to get upset when others don't agree, and that those who actually have power in the KMT are generally not anything other than Han Chinese, who identify as Chinese over Taiwanese. Remember that they only make gestures towards being "Taiwanese" come election time. Remember that they are not progressive: you can say you're progressive all you like, but if your policies don't speak to that, it's all farty sounds as far as I can tell. They are reactionary, they are Old Order, they are the party of rich men (note as well that there are no powerful women in the KMT).
Remember the gang affiliations, even from way back in Chiang Kai-shek's time, of the KMT make them no better than a crime syndicate with really good PR.
And repeat after me:
B A R F B A R F B A R F B A R F B A R F B A R F 
B. A. R. F.
barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf 
...and there ya go.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Look at these violent protesters being violent

Wow, such violent protesters, talking about how revolution is their duty. So violent. photo 1900401_10152342228691202_1665541672_o.jpg

Wow, such violent protesters, talking about how revolution is their duty. So violent.

Not my style of sign but I appreciate telling Ma Ying-jiu to call 1-800-GO-FUCK-YOURSELF...hee hee photo 10012014_10152342228736202_2119223566_o.jpg

Not my style of sign but I appreciate telling Ma Ying-jiu to call 1-800-GO-FUCK-YOURSELF...hee hee

THE VIOLENCE! Such violent dangerous agitators...sitting! And talking! VIOLENCE! photo 1978420_10152342228751202_2008571705_o.jpg

THE VIOLENCE! Such violent dangerous agitators...sitting! And talking! VIOLENCE!

 photo 1939727_10152342228876202_220243782_o.jpg

I know I look a bit drunk...but this is the best photo of my little sign that there is.

Violent protesters being violent by wearing stickers photo 1780040_10152342228941202_780236220_o.jpg

Violent protesters being violent by wearing stickers

it's so violent for student activists to create and maintain walkways so people can go back and forth while supporting their cause. photo 1781602_10152342229021202_1287319058_o.jpg

It's so violent for student activists to create and maintain walkways so people can go back and forth while supporting their cause.

Violent, agitating elements doing aggressive anti-government anarchist things like talking and discussing the issues of the day. This must be stopped. photo 1655360_10152342229121202_1757580835_o.jpg

Violent, agitating elements doing aggressive anti-government anarchist things like talking and discussing the issues of the day. This must be stopped.

THOSE VIOLENT PROTESTERS GAVE ME VIOLENT CHOCOLATE photo 1495961_10152342229116202_1807626861_o.jpg


So dangerous. Really I just feared for my life what with all the sitting and laughing and sticker-wearing. photo 1606209_10152342229321202_1199974452_o.jpg

So dangerous. Really I just feared for my life what with all the sitting and laughing and sticker-wearing.

 photo 10003720_10152342229446202_1146908818_o.jpg

Ma Ying-jiu's last name means "horse" in Chinese, and he recently said something dumb about deer antlers being the hair inside a deer's ear...I don't really get this at all but this is a way to make fun of what an idiot he is. photo 1504346_10152342229491202_1743135531_o.jpg

Ma Ying-jiu's last name means "horse" in Chinese, and he recently said something dumb about deer antlers being the hair inside a deer's ear...I don't really get this at all but this is a way to make fun of what an idiot he is.

VIOLENT protesters telling people to please keep walking ahead...VIOLENTLY photo 10001071_10152342229561202_366299874_o.jpg

VIOLENT protesters telling people to please keep walking ahead...VIOLENTLY. Remember, violent protesters always say "please".

OH THE VIOLENCE FROM THESE DANGEROUS ELEMENTS photo 1980150_10152342229671202_1962861388_o.jpg


Watch protesters on the news violently sitting, violently holding signs and violently letting newscasters report on the protest. photo 1795940_10152342229751202_1056298106_o.jpg

Watch protesters on the news violently sitting, violently holding signs and violently letting newscasters report on the protest.

 photo 1622389_10152342229776202_582623211_o.jpg

Protesters buying snacks at 7-11, many of which are meant to be passed out and shared with the crowd...VIOLENTLY photo 1890334_10152342229861202_2000784965_o.jpg

Protesters buying snacks at 7-11, many of which are meant to be passed out and shared with the crowd...VIOLENTLY

VIOLENTLY WAITING TO AGITATE IN THE BATHROOM! Watch these anarchists STAND IN LINE like the dangerous elements they are! photo 1911000_10152342229986202_1782043806_o.jpg

VIOLENTLY WAITING TO AGITATE IN THE BATHROOM! Watch these anarchists STAND IN LINE like the dangerous elements they are!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Welcome to Junior High

A remarkable bout of note-passing between two idiots

China: "Do U like me? Yes/No"
KMT: "I like u  but lets not rush, im dating the Taiwanese ppl but they don't know I really like u lol "
China: "4get the taiwanese ppl, they r dumb! u cn b mine haha lol  u"
KMT: "haha yeah lol i dont really care abt them anyway lets be 2gether 4ever"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Every Taiwanese Man Knows The Truth": The 洪仲丘 Protest

"Every Taiwanese man, when they heard about Hong Zhongqiu, knew exactly what happened. The "crime" or "mistake" he made doesn't matter, the expected punishment doesn't matter, the investigation doesn't matter. We saw that report - every single Taiwanese man - and we knew it."

- a student


I attended the protest in memory of 洪仲丘 (Hong Zhongqiu - Hung Chungchiu is how I think it'd be spelled in that Romanization system I never learned) tonight, which was also an anti-Ma Yingjiu protest (we need more of those), with a few anti-nuclear power folks, and a larger protest against military abuse/torture, especially directed at whistleblowers (some say Hong was that, others say he was a much-disliked troublemaker).

It was more than "tens of thousands" as news reports say - by the time I got there you could barely move and it was more like 100,000 at least, probably more like 150,000+.


This is the biggest protest I've seen since 火大 and even that didn't seem to convene quite as many people on Ketagalan Boulevard between Dongmen and the Presidential office, running all the way to 228 Park, past NTU Hospital and the library and CKS Memorial Hall.

The thing is, these protests happen pretty often in Taiwan: it's something unique about the country that sets it apart from China, that's for sure. They let the people vent their anger and show their frustration, but nothing much ever happens. People feel like they've done something, they've stood up to speak their minds, they've lent their bodies to the headcount at these events. Then everyone goes home feeling energized...

...and nothing changes.

Not so different from the USA, really. Can't help but make one feel a bit disaffected and cynical (cynical? Me? NAW!).


And of course because Les Miserables was a recently popular movie, people had to break out into a Taiwanese version of Do You Hear The People Sing? You can listen here:

Someone even left a sign in CKS Memorial Hall MRT station that said "Liberte, Egalite, Fraterite". I don't really mind if they want to appropriate the French Revolution (although enough heads rolled in that that maybe it wasn't the best choice...but...but...Les Miserables!) but the t-shirts that said "WE SHALL OVERCOME" were an appropriation too far in my opinion.


The catalyst of this protest was the death of Hong Zhongqiu - a corporal in the army doing his obligatory military service (something being phased out currently). He was put into solitary confinement - some say in a hot room with no windows or water, others say he was forced to do punishing exercises in the hot sun with no water - and died a few days before he was set to be released. Still others say tapes of what went on show proof of torture. Some say the punishment would have killed anyone, others say he was not fit to withstand it, but the army doctor who should have said so instead pronounced him fit to withstand the punishment.

Accounts differ as  to why he was treated this way - some say he reported that his superior officers were bullying the conscripts into keeping their bunks clean, although their own quarters were a mess. Some say he blew the whistle on financial wrongdoing and bribery (this is not proven, just one thing I've heard), some say it was for bringing in a mobile phone with camera that was not allowed to the base, still others say "mostly the superior officers just didn't like him, he was seen as whiny, bratty and soft, not taking orders".


All the eyes you see - many of which also say "Big Citizen Is Watching You" are meant to convey, from what I was told, that while the government and military may try to cover up what happened to Hong, among other things - more people whose family members died in the military under similar or suspicious conditions also took the stage - that the citizens are watching them. The teardrops are red to symbolize blood. People shouted everything from 洪媽媽加油!to 馬英九下台! to (something something) 黑目" which not even my Taiwanese friend could fully understand, so I don't think my lack of understanding was a language barrier.

I didn't bring this issue up in class - for once, my students did it for me. Every single class I've had with male students has involved them bringing it up enthusiastically. In some one-on-ones I heard private horror stories (and one guy who defended those who punished Hong, saying "I agree the punishment was too severe, but his actions did deserve punishment" - maybe, but no punishment that might result in death is acceptable or appropriate). One class involved five men talking at length about their own experiences and sharing their stories.

What my students (male, mostly in their 30s and 40s) say is this (and I quote from memory, with cleaned-up English so mistakes don't get in the way of the message):

"Every Taiwanese man, when they heard about Hong Zhongqiu, knew exactly what happened. The "crime" or "mistake" he made doesn't matter, the expected punishment doesn't matter, the investigation doesn't matter. We saw that report - every single Taiwanese man - and we knew it."


"Those guys doing their obligatory service, they are usually college graduates. And their superior officers are career military guys. The guys who become career military are usually not that smart, they are encouraged to do that because it's a secure job, you can make money and you can leave the service in 8 years and get a pension for the rest of your life (me: it wasn't clear when you could draw 50% of your pay and how long you had to stay to draw 100%). So the not-smart guys do that instead of college, and actually you can even start in high school and go to 'military school'. That will count towards your 8 years!"


"So you can leave by 35 and get your pay, and still get another job and have double income! If you are not a smart guy, that is a really good idea. So these dumb guys, they see the new kids coming in. If you went to Taida (NTU), you are a Master ("have a Masters"), you are from Taipei or you are handsome, they will bully you and treat you like garbage."


"They will see your papers and say 'oooh, you went to Tai-da, I see! You are a Taipei boy!' and you know you are in big trouble for the rest of your service. And they do all these bad things. They bully you. Actually, they will do things like say 'OK, here is a treat for tonight! We'll all go out to dinner!' but if you are doing your service, that's terrible news! Because you have to pay for your superior officer, but you earn very little money. So they get a free dinner, and you pay at least NT$1000 for that. That happens once a month or so. They steal your money this way."


"When I did my service on Matsu on the north island, the officer would give me NT$50 and say 'get me beef noodles'. But the beef noodles are NT100 or so, and when you are on the base on Matsu you have to take a taxi to get to any beef noodle shop. I told him NT50 wasn't enough and he really beat me! So next time I just took the NT50 and used my own money to take the taxi and buy the noodles. That was his plan, actually."


"Basically everybody knows these guys are assholes. They always treat you badly. Only stupid people join" (me: OK, that is maybe not fair, or at least I can't say I totally agree with that view, because I just don't know if it's really true. I am sure some intelligent people become career military officers. So this quote does not reflect my personal viewpoint) "and I can tell you it's true. I taught in the military school, and those guys failed all their classes before. I had to teach them fractions! Just fractions! And they still failed! And they always hated me because I already had a Masters. And I got really good at typing in Chinese bopomofo, because the officer would take some report or idea from books and tell me 'I need this typed as a report, do this by tomorrow' so I would copy it into a report and he'd pass it on as his idea, and when I got that work I knew I would have to work all night. So I learned to do it quickly. I did not dare to tell him no, or that he was a cheater."


"I taught in military college. My study was cryptography for my Master's and they treated me so badly, because I went to top schools in Taiwan" (it's true, he did) "and I had to teach cryptography to those guys who would become generals or something like that. I can tell you, they are very bad, they are actually stupid! And these are the guys in charge! They are the ones who have the chance to be secret agents in China or somewhere, and they usually do a bad job because they are too stupid to understand basic cryptography. But my job was better than [student who taught fractions in a military school]."


"In fact we all know about this stuff. The new kids are hit or punished in a bad way. And the officers are terrible. Very stupid and corrupt. Always cheating. Always telling us to do things, but they can't even do the same things! Always giving us too many exercises or something that is useless. But you know that, and you have to keep quiet. Just be quiet, just do it, just finish."


"I don't know why he wanted to say something or do some complaint. He knows he will be punished for that! Every Taiwanese man knows that! You just be quiet and shut up and do your work and then you can leave."


"The system cannot change. Those guys in charge, they have friends and know the politicians. And usually for generals you get that job because your father was a general. So we know the system will not change."


"Maybe slowly it can change, but I think 100 years. Those guys won't let it change. So the important guys don't get any punishment. We are so upset about the verdict, but it's not a surprise. The important guys never get punished."


"Actually the people who signed the report on Mr. Hung, they don't really know his situation, because they are high-level guys and he was just a young man. But they know the system is bad. We all know it. Nobody can change it."


"I worry about my son, he will have to do that soon. I tell him, 'just shut up and do what they tell you'.  don't want him to die. Just be quiet. You can't change the system."


"And that is why every Taiwanese man knows the truth. We saw that news and we thought - agh! - because at that time, that was also our life. We know. We know. They can't lie to us."






Sunday, June 23, 2013

Just A Few Delightful Things


Eat here: 台灣原味滷味, 新北市中和區景平路493-5號 / 捷運景安站

Original Taiwan Flavor Lu Wei (braised & boiled things) Zhonghe, Jinping Road #493-5, MRT Jing'an, fastest to grab a 262 next to Sushi Express and take it to Zhonghe District Office (中和區公所) and it's across the street and up a short walk further next to Five Flower Horse (五花馬), which is also pretty good.

First, I have finally discovered the joy of eating pig's feet. I never liked it when I got a big bowl of nothin' but pig foot - kinda gross, actually, it just looks visually unappealing - but I have found when it's sliced up into tender pieces of meat and trotter, that mixed in with rice it's really quite delicious.

I discovered I liked it, after all these years of being too unimpressed with the look of the stuff to take a bite, when I passed the place listed above and this unholy delicious smell enveloped me and I had to try their food that very instant. So I pointed to what some other people were eating, not aware that it was pig's foot with rice (豬腳飯), and ordered that. It comes with tender bamboo shoots, a piece of braised tofu and a braised hard-boiled egg. I also got Taiwanese tempura (甜不辣) - their tempura sauce is also delicious. So good I poured the remainder on my rice.

So that was a good discovery.

Also, this News In Brief feature is just full of gems:

Taiwan News Quick Take

I mean, first there's "Canada Warning Issued", which is the best headline ever. We all should be warned about Canada more often.

Then there's the entire paragraph detailing the state of President Ma Ying-jiu's butthole. It's really more than I ever needed to know about President Ma's ass, but there ya go.

I guess he needs to keep it in good condition so it can be reamed by China. (BAM!)

Finally, there's this website:科技心,醫師情.

It seems on the surface to be just a dating/matchmaking website for Taiwanese professionals, and in a sense that's exactly what it is. The application page (no, I'm not going to apply, obviously, I was just curious) says that not only are engineers and doctors welcome, but that all sorts of professionals, from teachers to entrepreneurs ("anyone with a proper job", to quote it, but I think that comes across a little less offensively in Chinese, more like "any employed professional") may apply.

A student of mine (female, doctor, married) said, however, that their real market niche is setting up single male engineers, who are often (not always!) too overworked, too shy and too socially awkward to go out and date easily, with female doctors, who are too overworked and not in a good place in society* to find a life partner if they didn't marry a classmate (apparently male doctors who didn't marry a classmate are more interested in nurses, and both these women and men generally prefer that a man be on an equal footing, career-wise, to his wife**). Another student, who is a fairly high profile person (tech industry, male, married), said that they called him to ask if he'd be interested in signing up (me: "you could've said 'just a second, let me ask my wife. Hey honey, am I available to sign up for this dating website?'").

I personally think it's brilliant. If female doctors really want men who are at approximately their level professionally (although some engineers in Taiwan might disagree that they are) or acceptably close enough, engineers fit the bill. And while the older generation of Taiwanese men, including engineers, might have preferred a stay-at-home wife (or a wife to help run the family business), the younger crop of single thirtysomething male engineers, observed from my interaction with them as a teacher, seem far more willing to have a wife with a demanding career and the high level of education that goes with it. They wouldn't necessarily be scared off by a female doctor (some would, but I'm speaking in generalities).

Two segments of society that often have a hard time dating, being specifically matched up because they wouldn't have many chances to meet each other normally (it's not like all the single female doctors and all the single male engineers go to the same bars after work) is pure genius. I wish I'd thought of it.

*which is totally sexist bullshit, I know, as it is in any society, but this is a legitimate issue single female doctors face in Taiwan

**I don't care for that opinion either. In the US I'd call it sexist bullshit so I'll call it sexist bullshit in Taiwan, too.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Reason Not To Love Taiwan :-(

Sadly, this whole Philippines/fisherman clusterfuck (which became so in no small part due to the incompetence of Ma Ying-jiu and his inability to solve even the tiniest diplomatic crisis) has made me more aware of a few general tendencies in Taiwanese discussion and rhetoric that I don't find particularly appealing.

Without really meaning to I ended up in a discussion about this with my neighbors - ordinarily nice, well-educated people - last night. I wasn't pleased with what I heard. I know it's not uncommon to hear these things, but they go so against what any local friend of mine would say that it's still shocking to hear.

Of course, these things happen everywhere - Taiwan doesn't have a monopoly on racism, groupthink, defensiveness and narrowmindedness. Far from it - I generally say, and truly feel, that Taiwan is one of the more tolerant, openminded countries in Asia, if not the most tolerant and openminded in Asia. I do see these sorts of responses to "sensitive" issues (although for the life of me I don't see why it's so sensitive) in the USA and other countries. It's just that they all tend to take on the same tone and use the same rhetoric in Taiwan, distinguishing it from the tone and rhetoric of the USA or elsewhere. For example, you may hear "American exceptionalism" or some bullshit derivation or elongation ("We're the best country in the world!") of that phrase, but you won't hear "Taiwanese exceptionalism". 

I just happen to live here, so I'm applying this observation to here. I don't mean to imply that it only happens here or that everyone here does it - neither are true (I'll get ugly comments anyway. Oh well).

Mooooommm! He hit me first!

Apparently it's fine for the Taiwanese government to be acting like a petulant child, because they shot our guy, and then their government did some yadda-yadda-yadda so our government is justified in doing yadda-yadda-yadda+1 and anyway they didn't really mean their apology. Sigh. Yeah, that's a great way to solve international diplomatic snafus. It worked in the backseat of your parents' station wagon, why not here? Oh, except it didn't really work and you still hold a grudge against your brother for throwing your toy out the window that one time and not really apologizing.

We're not racist - we're so friendly! We're so nice to you.

Yeah, you're nice to me because I'm white. That's also racist, in case you didn't know, because at times you can be nicer to me than to other Taiwanese people (not all the time, but it happens). You - maybe not you specifically but a lot of people - aren't as nice to Southeast Asians. They're not white. That's racist.

We're not racist - those Southeast Asian people come from undeveloped countries so they are a threat to our economy.

That's even more racist. It's also not true. Perhaps study more Economics?

We're not racist - the Philippines is a more dangerous place, so if Filipinos come here, it will be more dangerous here. But we don't mind that they are here. We're not racist. 


Shakes head.

Well, anyway, assuming that any given Filipino or group of Filipinos (or other Southeast Asians) are automatically making Taiwan "more dangerous" is a.) not related to the fisherman issue; and b.) ALSO FUCKING RACIST. If I said "I'm not racist, it's just that minorities commit more crimes, so I have to be more careful around them", I'd be a racist person because assuming someone will do something (good or bad, but in this case bad) based on their race is racist.

Also it sounds like you do mind that they are here, but do realize that that's racist and won't say it.

Nobody's threatening Filipinos or blaming Filipinos in Taiwan.

Yes they are. Read the news.

We're not racist - those guys who beat up some Filipinos don't represent us. They're just some low-class guys. Racism isn't a problem in Taiwan.

I believe you in that those guys who beat up some Filipinos don't represent you. You wouldn't do that, and you are probably perfectly nice to Filipinos you meet in your daily life. But just because you don't do that, and nobody you know would do that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, and that it's not a problem. Also, my pointing it out doesn't mean I'm implying that you're such a person.

I mean, I'm a New Yorker. I would loooooooove to say that the bigoted beliefs and ignorant statements I hear trumpeted by other Americans, too numerous to even get into here, don't "represent America", because they don't represent me. It's true that they don't represent me, but they are a part of American public discourse and therefore do in some way represent a part of America. I'd love to pretend that America is an accepting, women-minority-non-Christian-and-LGBT-friendly country, but I can't just ignore the other side because I don't like it.

And you can't just ignore this as the actions of a few low-class people. They are Taiwanese too. This is a problem in your country.

OK, some people are racist, but people are racist everywhere. China's more racist.

Both technically true, but it sure sounds like you're hiding behind an excuse there, tryin' to save a little face. I don't blame you, but just because racism exists elsewhere and is worse in other places is also not an excuse to ignore it in your own country.

Ma Ying-jiu handled this badly, true, but he's a nice guy, not corrupt like Chen Shui-bian.

Yes he is. Whole damn KMT's fucked up.

But their government is worse than our government!

It is true that the government in the Philippines is racked with problems. But again, that is not a reason to excuse your government. It's just not a good defense.

In fact, because Taiwan can legitimately claim to be a First World country, you'd think there'd be more pressure for the government to put on their Grown-Up Pants and act like freakin' adults. Instead, your government is acting in exactly the sort of undignified way that it most seeks to avoid with all this posturing.

It's not a good idea to discuss these issues, because someone might feel bad or lose face. Don't make waves.

Oh just fuck right off*. Crazy white lady be crazy, and Crazy white lady intends to not only have her freedom of speech, but use it. You're free to walk away. Not making waves is big here, but I'm not from here and I like waves. 

*I did not actually say this. I just thought it. I can't help getting into political discussions - perhaps I should move to southern Taiwan where that's more accepted - but I'm not that rude.

I hate the whole country, oh, but I don't hate the regular people, but I HATE THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

Uh, that doesn't even make sense. You can't hate the whole country if you don't hate everyone in it, and you can't hate everyone in it, because you haven't met them (you could think you do, I suppose, if you were racist, but you insist you're not).

Also a problem when talking about Korea. It's like everyone "hates Korea", but not the people, and not the ones they know, and some singers, dramas or food is OK, really it's just some sports teams/athletes and a few large corporations like Samsung. "OK so I don't really hate Korea. But I hate Korea!"

Americans certainly do this too - many tend to make blanket statements like that about Americans from another area (does everybody hate everybody), Muslims, people of other religions (or for some of the angrier atheists, people with any religion at all), certain subgroups of women...I'm noting it in Taiwan because I live here, but it's not unique to here.

But we are Chinese, this is our culture, or something.

Oh whatever. Can we stop with the blaming of negative tendencies on "culture" and start seeing it as something that can be changed? Because it can be changed. Plenty of your compatriots realize that. 

So you think Taiwan is acting badly in this? YOU MUST HATE TAIWAN!

I don't hate Taiwan. In fact, I love it here. I wouldn't criticize it if I didn't love it, I'd just leave. The fact that I've been here for seven years shows how much I love it. It's possible to love something and criticize it at the same time. It's possible to point to some people acting badly and note that that's a problem for the country without accusing everyone of acting badly. You see,

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

- F. Scott Fitzgerald

...try it sometime.

Love ya.

No, seriously Taiwan. Love ya.

But come on. You can do better.