Showing posts with label news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news. Show all posts

Sunday, February 16, 2020

住在台灣的外國人為什麼有在乎「台商的孩子」?

I don't often blog in Chinese, and I am sure there are many mistakes. What can I say, I'm a second language learner.

But, I want to address a primarily Taiwanese audience so I'm going to go for it. Enjoy my terrible Mandarin!

* * *

大家可能想問我,「妳為什麼那麼在乎那個小明/台商孩子的問題?」

就是因為我是個住在台灣的外國人。我沒有台灣國籍,所以我聽台灣人說,「台灣人第一」或者「所以我們不需要在乎和幫忙那些孩子就是因為他們不是台灣人」 我問自己~~~

如果台灣有一個疫情/流行病的狀況,他們怎麼對待我?有人會說我不能去醫院,因為台灣沒有足夠的醫療服務,台灣人比較需要,台灣人第一!?雖然台灣就是我的家,我沒有美國的家,我沒有可以去的地方,此外我在台灣納稅,有人會說我可以「回去」美國為了找醫療服務,但是無法用台灣的制度?

我了解我跟台商真的不一樣。我選了台灣,他們選中國(但是,他們的孩子沒有機會選)。我住這裡,他們住在國外。我在這裡納稅,他們避免。我支持台灣主權和台灣獨立(從中華民國殖民地制度獨立!),他們大部分支持統一。真的不一樣!

可是,我聽「台灣人第一」的時候,這讓我想起川普跟他的支持者。那些人也覺得「移民歧視」就是還OK的啦。在美國,這個民粹主義態度讓我不舒服,在台灣,我絕對有一樣不舒服的感覺。「台灣人第一」的意思不但是「小明第二」而且也是,外國人在台灣是第二階級,是不是?如果在未來台灣有個危機,台灣還是我們的家,但是,台灣對我們怎麼樣?我在台灣平常很舒服,我看台灣人很歡迎我們,但是,這個「台灣人第一」讓我不舒服。我需要問自己,「我真的是完全歡迎的嗎?」

我了解大家對這件事有很重的感覺。這個問題非常複雜,沒有一個完美解決的方案。我們住在台灣的外國人對不穩定的情況非常熟悉,因為我們的家不配合我們的國籍。我們大部分支持台灣,也支持台灣獨立。如果中國恐嚇台灣,我們也願意為台灣而戰。我們大部分不是有錢人,我們的生活很像當地人的。讓小明近來也影響我們,因為我們也住在這裡。但是,我求你想一想,我們為什麼在乎這件事情?

就是因為我們很容易會想像我們自己在類似的狀況。我們緊張,「台灣人第一」也排除了我們嗎?

Friday, February 7, 2020

The CCP's mind tricks are working better on the West than on China right now

Untitled
Found on Twitter from user AlexTheBullet (I don't know the origin of the image)



Chinese people: The Chinese government has been thoroughly incompetent at handling coronavirus!

The Chinese Communist Party: We are doing an excellent job.

The rest of the world, including the WHO: You are doing an excellent job, also these are not the droids we’re looking for


Watching the coronavirus horror unfold in China, I’m acutely aware that I’m close by geographically but worlds away politically and in terms of public health and safety - and those differences are the only thing keeping those of us in Taiwan safe.

It also means that in Taiwan, people generally have access to what’s going on in both China and the West. Information from the latter is freely available and increasingly accessible. At the same time, many Taiwanese have friends or family in China, many of whom are currently waylaid in Taiwan. Speaking a mutually intelligible language (mostly), they have a better idea of what is going on in China than most Westerners, for whom ‘China’ is much further away geographically, historically, relationally and linguistically. 

It should be obvious that Taiwan, alongside Hong Kong, is one of the most informative places from which to observe the nexus of knowledge, belief and awareness in both China and abroad. 

And what I am seeing now is truly astounding. 

Alongside the unfolding of a national tragedy, China is also experiencing a brief window in which freedom of speech is somewhat possible. And if you listen, what you hear is a furious outcry - the howl of a nation. 





And this:



People in China - many of them, anyway - know that the coronavirus epidemic has been mishandled from the top down and is still not being handled well, that their leaders (whom they never chose) are throwing each other under the bus, that that Xi Jinping is missing in action and that the initial outbreak was mishandled and covered up so spectacularly that it (at least partially) exacerbated the spread of the disease. They are fully aware that Li Wenliang - who was not a dissident - was reprimanded for warning a private WeChat group of his fellow medical school alumni about the danger, and that he can be credited as one of the early voices to speak out about the disease.  Li recently died, and the government (so it seems) half-heartedly attempted to cover it up - and it’s causing an absolute meltdown on Chinese social media.



The replies demanded of Dr. Li when he was reprimanded - that he "was clear" and "could" follow the government's orders - have been given life as a form of protest:





They also know that the government data on the disease can’t be trusted

And they know this because so many of them have known all their lives that the CCP is built on repression and lies, but have chosen until now to survive and endure rather than speaking out and going to jail, or worse. 

Compare that to what I’m seeing from the rest of the world, especially the West. It’s like some sort of Jedi - well, I suppose Sith - mind trick. 

Despite the international news reporting on the death of Li Wenliang, the consensus seems to be that the CCP is doing “everything they can” to stop the epidemic and that their response has been “great” and “transparent”. The WHO has praised China's response, as well. In China, people know that when you officially reprimand those who issue early warnings, that’s not transparency. Some are even saying that criticism of the Chinese government response is Sinophobic or anti-China. While there have been racist incidents against Chinese people - and that is obviously wrong - it is not Sinophobic to criticize a government.

This is despite international media (finally) starting to report on how badly they are actually doing:

This wonder at China’s logistical prowess is symptomatic of a recurrent trope among western commentators. We might call it the “if we could just be China for a day” view....
But when it comes to a public health epidemic, there are worrying limits to the Chinese Communist party’s control. To maintain authority, the Chinese Communist party (CCP) must convince the public that everything is going to plan. This hampers its ability to respond to epidemics....


People are praising the “hospital built in 10 days” (which I suspect plenty of Chinese people realize is a cross between a farce and a death camp - you wouldn't need to build a hospital that fast if you had dealt with the outbreak appropriately in the first place). All the old cliches are coming out: they sure know how to get things done (except for initial containment of the outbreak, I suppose), they’re taking such decisive action (which they hadn’t done before). From the link above, this guy is quoted in the BBC:


"China has a record of getting things done fast even for monumental projects like this," says Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations....

"The engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for westerners to imagine. It can be done," he added.

I see numerous comments echoing this trash online.


They’re praising China’s health care system (this is just one example), even though it’s failing, and spectacularly, too. It seems a fair number of Westerners have believed for some time that China had universal or accessible public health care” simply because China calls itself “communist”. It does not.

They are talking about that ridiculous Bloomberg article about how “China sacrificed a province to save the world” as though it was some sort of heroic act and not the tragic consequences of endemic incompetence and corruption in a government ill-prepared to deal with this crisis. And if you think public figures aren’t quoting that nonsense, oh, they are: 





To be fair I think he meant this to be somewhat critical? It's unclear.

Of course, while one might be able to try and justify the locking down of the epicenter, this is what Chinese social media is asking - and the West apparently is not: if the government has been doing such an excellent job, how did it get to the point that they needed to lock down several other cities and put a huge chunk of the economy essentially on hold? Was it necessary, or is it a massive overreaction? We have no idea which it is - and isn’t that even scarier?

Worse still, the international media is taking government data as gospel, which people in China know right now not to do. We don’t know what the fatality rate is because nobody knows how many people died before being diagnosed because they couldn’t get care. China keeps reporting “2.1%”, a number I don’t think anyone in China believes. We have no idea how contagious it is, either. We know nothing.



If the CCP is doing such an excellent job, how is it that China-watchers in Asia are openly wondering if this will be the crisis - not just of public health, but of public fury - that brings down the CCP?





It’s like some sort of demented hypnosis. The media is waking up, but I'm shocked that the commentary has been so...so...tankie.

How did the CCP manage to dupe so many people abroad, when their own citizens after years of forced indoctrination seem to (mostly) know better? How is it that people outside China seem more susceptible to authoritarian propaganda than the people educated since birth to support that system? How is it that the rest of the world seems to put faith in Chinese state media - which is known for spouting government lines rather than the truth  - while being completely oblivious to - or simply ignoring - a billion furious people?

It's like they all read and believe this junk rather than actually listening to people in China who have a brief flicker of an opportunity to speak out.

And those same Westerners are probably patting themselves on the back for being aware of the crisis in China and sympathetic to the Chinese people - whose voices they ignore in favor of state-peddled lies. I don’t think they realize the level of vitriolic, potentially incendiary outrage brewing in China against the very government they praise from a distance.

Truly, it amazes me. 

In China and the region, we know that the biggest danger isn’t coronavirus, or isn’t only that. Far scarier is knowing that we can’t trust the government tasked with combating the epidemic. At all.

As Chinese citizens are showing the world that they don't buy the CCP's crap when it comes to coronavirus, the world seems to be saying "more crap, please!" The death of Dr. Li might turn that tide, but with the WHO expressing condolences, after praising the government that silenced him and not seeing the irony of it all, and then backtracking to say they "had no information" (!!!), I'm not sure.

I wish the rest of the world would realize it too. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 3.11.41 PM


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.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Light News Petiscos and Wine

IMG_4091
Greetings from Coimbra! Their university is great except they have a Confucius Institute. But the building is well-marked and I kind of spat at it, so...that accomplished nothing but felt good. 



Hello from Portugal, where we are traveling for a bit before I take up my 2nd semester at Exeter. Because I’m on the road, I won’t be keeping up much of a regular blogging schedule. But, here are a few takes for you - perhaps a bit behind the news cycle but whatever - I’ll try to keep them quick. I have wine to drink and lots of it. Also, port.

We’re not really getting beyond the tourist hotspots, which a few years ago I’d say was a shame. And, in fact, I’d love to have the time to explore the lesser-known gems of the country. But, as I grow older and travel more, I grow more at peace with staying on something like a tourist circuit while abroad, unless I have good reason to depart from it. I don’t have a special connection to the countries I visit other than (I hope) helping their economies with my well-spent tourist dollars, zero dollars of which go to buying cheap trinkets in souvenir shops, so what connection would I have to a regular neighborhood of no particular interest to travelers? Trying to pretend the local cafe or restaurant, the local park, the local place of worship has any meaning for me as an outsider feels cheap, like a debased way of seeming like I’m better than a regular tourist, which of course I am not. You build connection by returning to places frequently over time, which as a traveler I cannot do.

That’s not to say I never have a reason to go out of my way: in Greece we traveled far beyond the tourist center of Athens, to seek out the church where my great grandfather had worked, and which my grandfather had attended as a child. We had coffee from the local shop and walked around the local streets, and had good reason to: my ancestors had lived in that neighborhood for many years. It goes without saying that a good restaurant recommendation will get me to go anywhere.

And, of course, Taiwan is no longer ‘abroad’, it’s home. That’s different. I have connections there. 

All that to say, yes I’m just going to Lisbon, Sintra, Coimbra and Porto, but I’m okay with that. 

Anyway, there’s a hot take for you. Here’s another - let's talk AIT. 

I don’t know what to say about the new AIT opening - some people say it’s a sign of ‘upgraded relations’. Others write ludicrous headlines (“angering China”? I'd say "eat me" but CNN is clearly chowing down on something way meatier) Still others say it doesn’t mean much, which seems like it could be the case given that the US sent no-one important to attend. Personally? I think it’s just as confused and schizophrenic as US policy on Taiwan has always seemed - even if, officially, it is clearer (and more pro-Taiwan) than people think. We want to build a big office in Taiwan! But we don’t want to draw attention to it! We care about Taiwan relations! But we don’t want to talk about that! It’s the same old dance - he loves me, he loves me not. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Though if you really want to know, at the end of the day, what those who matter in the US think of Taiwan, skip the new AIT opening and look at who makes decisions about arms sales to Taiwan. 

Moving on. Korea. 

The Facebooks are ablaze with WHAT IT ALL MEANS!!! re: the Xi Jinping Marionette Spectacular I mean Trump-Xi oops Trump-Kim meeting. You already know what I think it means. Few, however, seem worried that China would surely seek to fill that void of regional influence - after all, better that the regional power in Asia be Asian, yes? Plenty of people are talking about how anything that gets US and US imperialism out of Asia must be a good thing.

I don’t know if those people like Chinese imperialism, or just aren’t aware it’s a thing (though I would guess it’s the latter). It’s an easy thing to overlook: it’s not fully realized yet and the CCP is trying hard to make sure it stays under everyone’s radar, whereas US imperialism - and all those bombs we drop to advance an agenda mostly beneficial to us - is well-known and more than fully-realized. It’s easy to criticize.

It’s even easier to criticize knowing that you can do so and you won’t get shot. Try criticizing Chinese expansionism in China and see how long you are not ‘disappeared’. That’s the key difference of course - both China and the US are primarily interested in what’s best for them, and despite what they say the US doesn’t really stand for either global democracy or human rights - but at least under a US-led system you can say so.

What worries me is that in the wake of WHAT IT ALL MEANS!!! is that until perhaps just today, not many people seemed to be talking about China at all. Even those otherwise criticizing Trump's performance. I am certain - and anyone else who is watching ought to be as well - that this was all manipulated to benefit China (before you accuse me of ‘anti-China hysteria’, remember that I live in Taiwan, a country China has said obliquely it will annex by force.) Not to sound like a tired cliche-ridden “China expert”, but isn’t the Art of War all about conquering through manipulation or a clever strategem, so that your opponent doesn’t even realize they’re losing, and only if that is impossible to use force? Well…

So who realizes that we’re losing? Not The Atlantic, who mentioned China 7 times in this piece (I counted) but didn't seem to be able to pinpoint who was both manipulating the show and who benefitted from it. Not the BBC, which I had on most of yesterday evening in Sintra. The National Post gets it, but nobody I know reads it. My preferred outlets continue to not understand Asia. South China Morning Post, for the first time since they became a CCP propaganda tool, seems to get it right. But nobody I know in the US regularly reads SCMP.

But, because the average US liberal or moderate doesn't read these outlets, this particular observation seems lost on them. Not a peep. You’d think China wasn't even a player. A lot of my smarter friends hadn’t even seemed to consider that they were (“Why a [fake] Chinese proverb for a Korea summit?” one friend asked. “Because Xi Jinping is running the show,” I replied, to their surprise - they’d been expecting I’d agree that this summit had nothing to do with China, because none of the media they read have mentioned it.)


And Hau “Muppetface” Lung-pin went to China to talk about his hope for "unification" because he’s a massive jerk-off, being all kinds of Mean Girl to Taipei mayoral incumbent Ko "Reminds Me Of My Dad" Wen-je. As in he jerks Chinese authorities off. Fine. What bothers me isn’t this - Hau’s gonna Hau - but that it won’t matter. The vast majority of Taiwanese not only don’t agree with Hau’s far-right jerk-offery, they vehemently disagree with it.

But it doesn’t matter. Those who hate Hau (or even mildly dislike him, or think he looks like a Muppet but isn’t as smart as one - I don’t mean the Muppet characters, I mean the actual cloth Muppets are made of) are gonna find him odious anyway. Blue voters who watch blue media will either not know he said this - because the media they watch won’t report it - or assume he meant something milder, or defend it saying it’s his “personal views” which he is entitled to (and he is, but that doesn’t make him less of a jerk-off who’s dumber than a scrap of fake fur with google-eyes). Why would they assume this? Because if the media they watch does report it, this is the commentary they will offer, which people will swallow.

And nobody who has a message to get out to those who aren't listening is either trying, or able to get their attention, whether that's in Taiwan or the US. And the blue voters will vote blue and the Americans will talk about Korea as though it wasn't a massive back-door win for China, and we're all going to die.

And so it goes.

And if you’re feeling low,
Stuck in some bardo
Why, even I know the solution
Love, music, wine
And revolution!

It’s time for wine. 

IMG_4028-1
Brendan is happier than he looks in this, he just...does this for cameras? I dunno. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Just a little light news commentary

Greetings from San Francisco!

Lao Ren Cha has been silent these past two weeks because I've been traveling in the US visiting family and friends, and frankly just haven't had the time. I wasn't even supposed to be in California, but I missed my flight and as a result I'm going to miss Taipei Pride 2017. I had had a rainbow skirt made for the occasion and everything.

But, with a bit of time to kill before my flight, I'd add a little commentary to two stories that caught my eye.

First, a petition to ban the Chinese flag in public places has passed the 5000-signature threshold for a government response. 

I've made the case before that pro-unification demonstrators should be banned (and also made the case that they shouldn't), but I hope it's clear that I don't necessarily buy my own devil's advocate argument.

It's true that China bans the ROC flag, and this would be tit for tat. It's true that pro-China protesters have a track record of violence, it's true that the Chinese government is an existential threat to Taiwan and must therefore be treated differently from other foreign governments, and of course we all ought to know by now that few of these pro-unificationists are sincerely expressing an ideal. They're either gangsters, associated with gangsters, or as I suspect in many cases paid by the CCP as "fake civil society" agitators. Many protest not to convince Taiwanese - a lost cause if there ever was one - but to create appropriate photo ops in China of "pro-unification Taiwanese".

All of these are reasons, I suppose, to prohibit them from demonstrating.

But you know what? I don't think it matters. Yes, China bans the ROC flag, but we are better than them. It is a stronger example to show that we can allow the flag of a threatening country to be shown in public without fearing that its very image could destabilize Taiwan than to ban it out of fear. Treating China as an existential threat is important, but also a separate issue from allowing Taiwanese citizens and legal residents to exercise their rights of speech and assembly. Pointing out the irony that they are demonstrating in favor of a country that would take away their right to demonstrate is another way to handle this without putting an unnecessary gag on free speech.

And yes, we need to do something about the violence, but using "they are violent!" as an excuse to disallow certain kinds of protests is a path we really ought not to be going down. It could theoretically be used on anyone. Keeping an eye on certain individuals known to be violent and a law enforcement presence similar to that seen in other, peaceful protests is the way to deal with it - as well as finally locking up gangsters known to be pro-violence, pro-China agitators who have committed crimes (that is to say, White Wolf).

Certainly, we could ban them because they are disingenuous, but this is very hard to prove, and also a problematic approach. Do we also ban anyone from protesting who has received money in any capacity or is employed by an organization that advocates for the issue behind the demonstration? Do we ban paid political party staff from marching in support of an issue their party also supports? We can and should put more restrictions on foreign funding in Taiwan, but I suspect a lot of these payments are personal - think "red envelope full of cash" - and difficult if not impossible to trace.

As for the point that these demonstrations are more to generate visuals in China than to impact anything in Taiwan - who cares?

In short, there is just no way to reasonably ban these guys in a free society, although they should be held more fully legally accountable for any violence they incite. The best we can do is make sure the general public is educated about who they are and why they are doing this.

As for the second story, in this article on indigenous Taiwanese reclaiming their names, this line caught my eye:

First of all, many people could not pronounce his [Neqou Sokluman's] name because he chose a rare character. And whenever he went to a hospital or to a government agency, the staff would ask him in English, “Are you Taiwanese? Can you speak Chinese?” and treat him as a migrant worker from Southeast Asia. [emphasis mine]. 

It goes without saying that indigenous Taiwanese, and everyone, frankly - should be able to have and use their real name. I'd only add that it is also necessary to educate the general public on not only the existence of such names in Taiwan, but also the need to respect them. I'll also point out that the rule that one must adopt a Chinese-character name is not limited to indigenous people - if a foreigner registers a marriage in Taiwan with a Taiwanese citizen, they are also required to adopt a "Chinese name". In addition, it's not at all fair that I can have both my English and Chinese names and nobody whose opinion matters raises a fuss about it. And, of course, I have more than one Taiwanese friend who has been forced to choose and use an "English name" that they don't want. That's not right.

Although these situations are not the same as what indigenous people face, one can draw a few comparisons.

But...what really bothers me is this: I don't want indigenous Taiwanese to be treated better than Southeast Asian migrant workers. I don't want anyone to be treated better than Southeast Asian migrant workers, because these workers ought to be treated with just as much respect as anyone else, as equal human beings. I don't want the phrase to even have a reason to exist, because you can't equate poor treatment to the experience of a group if no group is treated poorly.

This goes way beyond elevating one group and right to the heart of treating all people with respect regardless of socioeconomic status, visa status or national or racial origin (or gender, or orientation, or creed, or weight, or age).

People deserve respect because they are people, not because they are "indigenous" or "Taiwanese" or the right kind of foreigner (so says the Garbage Foreigner), and everyone should be able to have the name that they want - their name - and just be who they are.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Two articles at rather distinct odds came out over the past day or so. One is very much worth reading. Let's start with that one, from the Washington Post, written by several young Taiwanese including my friend Brian Hioe.

I have complained before that the Western media ignores Taiwanese voices and, when they do seek them out, they use them to suit the message they've already decided they want to convey. As a result, public opinion in Taiwan, if it is considered at all, is made out to be more divided, muddled or discordant than it really is - or that it agrees with Western or Chinese narratives more than it actually does.

I stand by that, and am so thrilled to see strong Taiwanese voices taking the initiative and getting their own work published in major Western media outlets. They were never going to come to Taiwan, so it is good that many Taiwanese have gone to them.

Of course, this is also the nature of privilege. If you are Dr. Some White Guy Who Is An Expert on China, you don't have to seek out media and try to get work published: they seek you out. You don't have to push, or take the initiative - they contact you. If you are a qualified Taiwanese voice, however, chances are you are going to have to make the extra effort.

Generally, I love this article. There was a kerfuffle over the title (when I first read it, it was entitled "Taiwan wants One China: but which one does it want?" or something like that, which made no sense and was at odds with what was actually in the piece. In fact, if Taiwanese wanted One China that would imply they either wanted:

a.) One China (the PRC) and One Taiwan (which happens to be my position)
b.) One China, the ROC (okaaaaaay, but not gonna happen, dreamface)
c.) One China, the PRC, with Taiwan as a part of it (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA)

Nowhere in that title is there room for "we'll take an independent Taiwan as the ROC separate from the PRC" (that is, two Chinas), which, although it is not my position, is the most popular one at the moment. I do think this will change in a generation or so, however.

But good on the writers, who asked the Washington Post to change the title. The paper obliged, and now it reads "Taiwanese see themselves as Taiwanese, not Chinese". Good. Nice.

One small quibble:

In the U.S.-China Normalization Communiqué of 1978, the backbone of the policy, the United States “acknowledges” that there is one China and that Taiwan is part of China.

As far as I am aware this is not the case - the United States acknowledges that China's position is that Taiwan is a part of China, not that Taiwan is a part of China necessarily. If I am wrong, please correct me, but that is my understanding. I also appreciate that it mentions 1992 but not the fictitious 1992 consensus. It's good not to bring up things that don't exist in one's newspaper article.

Anyway, those are small things.

I don't have much else to say beyond what the excellent article already says, so enjoy some quotes. They are like a cold, refreshing mint lemonade on a warm day.

1. Taiwan is de facto independent. The Taiwanese see themselves as Taiwanese, not as Chinese.
The official stance of Taiwan was that Taiwan is part of China. Butthe China that this stance refers to is the Republic of China (based in Taipei) instead of the communist People’s Republic of China (based in Beijing). (One interesting fact is that the special institution National Unification Council, which defined the official stance in 1992, was “ceased” in 2006 along with the Guidelines for National Unification.)
Since the 1970s, PRC became diplomatically acknowledged as China by most nation-states, including the United States. That is, ROC no longer asks to be seen as representing all of mainland China. Its constitution, which claims sovereignty over the whole mainland, does differentiate between the “free area,” or the island of Taiwan, and the “mainland area,” after a series of amendmentsthat have been added since the 1990s.
But the ROC has never been part of the PRC in its history.
Good, nice, very good.

What’s more, ROC residents increasingly identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. That identity has changed significantly since the island became a democracy in the 1990s. In 1991, ROC and PRCrepresentatives met with one another for the first time since the 1949 civil war. At that point, about one-fourth of Taiwan’s residents identified themselves exclusively as “Chinese”; 17.6 percent as exclusively “Taiwanese”; and nearly half said both Chinese and Taiwanese.
But by 2014, only 3 percent still identified exclusively as Chinese — and more than 60 percent Taiwanese, hovering around there ever since. Today, only one-third of Taiwan’s residents think of themselves as both Chinese and Taiwanese. Among those who are 29 or younger, born after martial law ended in 1987, 78 percent hold an exclusively Taiwanese identity — as do nearly 70 percent ofpeople younger than 40. If this trend continues, a solely Taiwanese identity will prevail as residents’ consensus.

Yes, yes, yes. Clap clap clap. I like this very much. American friends - this is all true and really something you ought to know.

For Taiwanese younger than 40, pro-independence support reaches 84 percent. Perhaps most startling, 43 percent of the under-40 generation would support independence even if it meant China would attack Taiwan under the risk of war.
On the flip side, unification with China has become unpopular. Even under the most favorable scenario — in which there would be little political, economic or social disparities between mainland China and Taiwan — only one-third of Taiwanese citizens say they support unification. That’s a significant drop from the 60 percent who supported unification in 2003.
Yes - and this is something many Americans are unaware of - and many leaders as well. There seems, outside of Taiwan, to be this assumption that peaceful unification is possible and best for all involved.  It is not possible, and not best for Taiwan, however.

Threats from China that Taiwanese independence will result in war are taken seriously. Taiwanese admonishments that attempts at unification will result in conflict are ignored. It's as though the world still believes that the Taiwanese buy the ROC myth and that they fully believe their constitution's claim to China - that the ROC and PRC are rivals for China because a government they never elected, which in fact invaded from China, said they were, and now the government in China threatens them with violence if they even think about changing it to reflect the public will.

It is time that the West realizes that the historical claims of the ROC are not an accurate representation of what the Taiwanese actually want.

Unification is not possible. It will never be possible. Many "experts", even some who work for reputable outfits, make the current status quo sound as though it exists because China has simply not put forward a suitable proposal for unification.

This is false. Bush is wrong here. There will never be a suitable proposal for unification. Not because China won't try, but because there is no possible proposal that China could put forward that would tempt the Taiwanese, because they are not Chinese and do not see themselves as Chinese, and that is not going to change, nor can a change be forced. The only possible peaceful path is one of an independent Taiwan.

So, anyway, that's the good article. Really, it's excellent. Go read it.

After that cool drink of mint lemonade, you can read this one (or rather, in fact, don't, just don't unless you like hate reading) which is like squatting in the dirt gnawing on roots and twigs.

This? This is a steaming bowl of stanky used douche - I mean not only like it was used so now it's kinda gross, but like some of it also ran up your buttcrack like it was a Roman aqueduct and so now it's kind of butt-stanky too with maybe some poo or hair in it, and also you were on the rag so it's...

Ahem. 

Also there is a pube floating in it.

Aherrm. Sorry. Anyway.

This fuckstick slammed his fists on an unfortunate keyboard like an angry macaque and a few words inexplicably came out, and what we got was this.

My eyes want to file assault charges after this thing accosted them in an alley. The only good thing I can say is that I had actually never heard of this bum-bungler nor the "Neo-Whatever Eastern Whatever" or what the fuck ever this site is, because I read real news by real journalists and experts and hang around smart people pretending I am smart as well. What bothers me is that somehow he has a name for himself and even a Wikipedia page? Like, really?

Why? Off the tip of my dick I can think of like twenty writers who deserve Wikipedia pages before this ball-dangler does.

I won't bother to take down the article's central points. They sort of speak for themselves. The only thing I'll mention is that that stupid survey that pegged Taiwan as the "third most ignorant country" was also a steaming turd-pile, not to be taken seriously. I won't go into the questions asked and sample sizes - but the samples were too small and the questions stupid and pointless - suffice it to say that it is not an accurate reflection of Taiwan.

Instead, I will provide you with a running translation of some of this douchecracker's major "points", such as they are.

Shockingly, almost all the people I approached in December 2016 in Taipei either refused to discuss the topic, or appeared thoroughly ignorant about it. Some did not seem to even understand the concept of the ‘West provoking China’.

Translation: "Shockingly, when I approached random strangers in December 2016 and was a total asshole, shouting at them if they gave me answers I didn't like, I was surprised to find nobody wanted to talk to me!"

“Our enemies?” Did the Defense Minister say “our enemies”? Taiwan is a renegade province of China, whose ‘independence’ is recognized by only 21 countries (down from 30, two decades ago).

http://journal-neo.org/2016/12/31/taiwan-ignorance-danger-of-war-and-a-high-school-nazi-parade/


Translation: "I am a blithering idiot who not only has no knowledge whatsoever of the current state of Taiwan-China ties, but also struggles with basic life skills like forming words into sentences that make sense and reflect the true state of the world. Also, with this attitude I am quite surprised that nobody in Taipei was interested in telling me how they felt."

I will give him credit here: he's right about checkbook diplomacy. I'm not a fan of it either.

I asked him about the present tensions between Taiwan and Mainland China, about the West playing an increasingly aggressive role in the region.

He had no opinion.

I asked about the fascist anti-Communist and pro-Western legacy of Chiang-Kai-shek. He began to look nervous:

“I just work here for 8 hours a day. I don’t know anything about this place, really…”
“But you work here, in the middle of this enormous propaganda center!” I insisted. “Haven’t you heard about the millions massacred on Mainland China by his troops? Haven’t you heard about the tens of thousands killed here, in Taiwan?”

“No. I know nothing,” he laughed. “At school we learned nothing about this… I’m just a volunteer…”

In one of the halls, high-school students were taking selfies. “Do you like Chiang?” I shout at them. They all laughed, happily, showing me “V” sign with two fingers.

Translation: I do not understand the simple idea that when I approach people and ask them rapid-fire questions using high-level vocabulary in English*, which involve sharing the pain and struggle of their nation's history, they don't want to answer me because, again, I come off like a total fucking asshole and who would want to talk to someone like that? Furthermore I am incapable of parsing the non-answer, appeal to ignorance or half-baked reply as a common way in Asia of saying "I don't want to share my thoughts with you because you seem like a big fucking jerk". Instead I just dismiss them as stupid.

*I do not for one second believe that this twatmangler speaks fluent Mandarin or Taiwanese. 

At the “228 Memorial Museum” dedicated to the government-orchestrated massacre of Taiwanese civilians, I spoke to an 86-year old Mr. Chang, a survivor of the atrocities.
On the official museum site it reads:
“It commemorates the victims of the 228 Massacre which took place on 28 February 1947. The 228 Massacre was a rebellion by the Taiwanese people against the recently arrived Republic of China (ROC) troops. The ROC government responded with a brutal crackdown that ended with tens of thousands of Taiwanese people killed.” 
“Was Chiang Kai-shek really ‘democratic’?” I asked sarcastically.

Translation: I DON'T KNOW WHY THE FUCK I ASKED THAT "SARCASTICALLY" TO A PERSON WHO HAS SUFFERED UNTOLD HORROR BUT PERHAPS IT IS BECAUSE I AM INCAPABLE OF A FULL RANGE OF HUMAN EXPRESSION AS I NEVER FULLY INTERNALIZED A THEORY OF MIND!

Bizarre Chiang’s cult, Nazi high school parades and thorough political and historical ignorance! Continuous efforts to corrupt tiny poor countries in all corners of the world… Playing into the hands of the West, provoking China. What a place Taiwan has become!

I give him credit for being right about Chiang - but not  his inability to see that most Taiwanese also understand this but just don't want to share that with a total fucking asshole. Nor the contradiction inherent in rightly slamming Chiang but slavishly insisting that Taiwan is, in fact, a part of China, which in Taiwan is something only Chiang's party believes. What does he expect Taiwanese to do, hate Chiang (which they do, mostly) but still vote for the KMT? Understand the atrocities of the invading ROC, and yet agree with their party line? This isn't just him being Craptasticus McCunterson (though he is), it's plain stupid. Pretty much everyone who agrees with him about Chiang - which is most people - are pro-independence. The two are irreconcilable.

Nevertheless, here is my translation: 

bhjirwhpu9afos'c890[aerw klmXZGIUOXGEGRGRGogjgjlhgrj;eainphgopuy80748
OYUAGIYjiopgrijpmihjeqhiofeqhipadvhijpHIJPHOUGGIYHIPGEHIK;GRJO[RNK
erajp]9iavdnoji
rghjip
rnip
rghql;olo[kko[hrwinpghrwjo[hrwjo[gko[]gqekp]feqihpefqhgopufqwebvouyegqmino[brw['pjnlo

No but seriously, "Nobody wants to talk to someone who comes off like a massive douchesmuggler" shouldn't be, like, a hard fucking concept. It's not even unique to Taiwan, or Asia. In the West perhaps we'd say outright "you seem like an asshole and I don't want to talk to you", or just "hey buddy get outta my face" (my preferred New York reply), but the non-answer or fake ignorance is Taiwan's (and Asia's) way of expressing the same.

Get a clue, or get the fuck out of Taiwan.

That said, apparently this "philosopher" has worked on "every continent". That's good news! I look forward to his working from Antarctica! 

http://journal-neo.org/2016/12/31/taiwan-ignorance-danger-of-war-and-a-high-school-nazi-parade/

Saturday, December 31, 2016

BREAKING: Taiwanese artists desperately trying to convince China that their political positions are not "vague"

"HOW THE HELL IS THIS A 'VAGUE' POLITICAL POSITION?"
from here

INDEPENDENT FUCKING TAIWAN, YOU FUCKERS (31 Dec 2016): Following the announcement of the banning of several international artists from performing in China, including creatives from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, a number of Taiwanese artists rumored to be on the list are protesting the circumstances of their inclusion in the strongest possible terms.

Taiwanese black metal group Chthonic and political activist rapper Dwagie both lodged harsh criticisms of the as-yet-unconfirmed list circulating online, which is said to attribute their being banned from China to having "vague political positions".

"What the actual fuck," noted Dwagie. "There is nothing 'vague' about anything I write. How the hell do a bunch of Zhongnanhai asshats take lyrics like We are beaten by the batons of history / Although our heads are bleeding, we never lower them / We climb the barbed wire and barricades / To light up the darkest corner with a sunflower and call them 'vague'? Seriously, what the hell? They have heard of the Sunflowers, right? Aren't they banned from China too? Are their political positions also 'vague'?"

"I mean, definitely the goal of every talented artist in Taiwan is to get banned China," Dwagie continued. "That's obvious - you're nobody until China hates you. So I guess I should thank China? But still, fuck them for thinking there is anything at all 'vague' about my politics!"

"For real," added members of Chthonic. "What do we even have to do to convince the Chinese government that we do not in any way consider Taiwan to ever have been, to be, or to have any possibility of ever being a part of China? How is this not crystal freakin' clear?"

When reached for comment, a Chinese government official declined to say much on the record, but did note that the "complex" and "questionable" political ideologies of the groups was "under serious consideration", but no decision has yet been made.

"Do I just need to write a song called "TAIWAN IS INDEPENDENT AND CHINA CAN EAT OUR BALLS?" added Dwagie. "Is that what it takes? I wrote an entire song eulogizing Taiwanese political hero Nylon Cheng and they, what, aren't sure? I mean it's an honor to be banned - maybe I could write a song called It's An Honor To Be Banned From China, would that be vague? But come on, the actual hell, China?"

"So, like, screaming Let me stand up like a Taiwanese / only justice will bring you peace into a mic with a stage background of intensely Taiwanese imagery is somehow vague? The rest of the song is about killing tyrants!" interjected Chthonic frontman Freddy Lim while other band members rolled their eyes. "Are they trolling us? Is this on purpose? Did they even listen to our songs? There is literally nothing, not one thing, in our discography that isn't either explicitly or implicitly about Taiwanese history, identity or sovereignty!"

"Seriously! You try to get to the heart of Taiwanese identity and the Taiwanese experience and sing about the country you love - COUNTRY, NOT PROVINCE, FUCKERS - and maybe even actively try to piss of China a bit in the process, but who even cares about them because they are a totally different country from beautiful, independent Taiwan, and this is what you get?" added Dwagie, exasperated.

Both members of Chthonic and Dwagie expressed surprise that they were not, in fact, already banned from China. "Was the list just, like, making it official? How did this not happen years ago?" quipped Chthonic member Doris Yeh.

"Hey, what about us? Are we already banned, or did they just forget? We wrote that 'Island Sunrise' song you hated over in China, and you as well as your buddies in Singapore even refused to show the segment of an awards show where it won an award for best song," added members of the Taiwanese rock group Fire Extinguisher. "What are we, nothing? Seriously? We work really fucking hard to have the honor of being banned from China!"

"Yo, us too," added Taiwanese indie hip hip group Kou Chou Ching. "FUck China man, we can't even get on the list?"

After hearing of the musicians' reactions, a Zhongnanhai official noted, "although our operatives have released these rumors on the Internet as per our instructions, we would like to remind everyone that the list has not yet been confirmed by any government official. These vague and unclear political positions will be weighed carefully, however," before smirking and getting into a black Mercedes.


Just covering my ass here: if it wasn't obvious that this is a work of satire and none of the artists named actually said any of those things, I really don't know how to help you be smarter, but this was a work of satire and none of the artists named actually said any of these things.

...though I like to think they would. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Post-Truth, Taiwan Style

It has come to my attention recently that the tentacles of post-truth America, at least on the issue of marriage equality, are beginning their slimy coiling around the debate in Taiwan.

Earlier this week, I was discussing marriage equality with a pro-equality student (I wouldn't have brought it up otherwise), who indicated that "it may be some time, because there are more people against marriage equality now". I asked him why he felt that way as, in fact, most polls pretty consistently show a majority of Taiwanese are in favor of it. He said that he'd seen the two rallies on December 26th on the news and the anti-equality side seemed a lot bigger.

I told him that most journalists I know believe that not to be the case - police estimates have the pro-equality rally at 5,000 and the anti- at 4,000: better, more accurate estimates have the pros at 30,000 and the antis at between 10,000 and 20,000. He knew nothing of the less civil, more hot-headed actions of the anti-equality crowd, and had been led to think that maybe the pro-equality side was pushing too hard (in fact, that side was widely reported to have been civil, welcoming, friendly, well-behaved and safe).

It felt not only like the news was trying to gin up disagreement where there is little, or make the two sides seem more equal in number than they are or have more similar levels of support than they do, but to actively make it seem as though Taiwanese are, by and large, opposed to marriage equality when this is simply not the case. The disagreement is not nearly on the level of a 'culture war', and society is not nearly as 'divided' as reports suggest (though it is true that support is not universal).

I have tried to find examples of what my student spoke of, but was unable to - and I personally do not own a television. I was unable to find relevant clips online, but I do believe my student: why would he lie about his impressions?

It echoes an online conversation I was briefly involved in, but left, that included two expats who insisted that marriage equality was being "forced" on Taiwan by "the West" when we shouldn't do that because they "have a different culture and values" (sure, but if they did in that way, then there wouldn't be support for marriage equality). One admonished us pro-equality supporters not to "push something on the Taiwanese that they don't want" (again, because I can't say it enough times, marriage equality has majority public support).

That's not all, of course. Don't even start me on this bullshit. They actively twist the truth to make it sound as though the people swiftly condemned marriage equality: nothing could be further from the truth. The pro-equality rallies, despite not having well-organized church networks behind them, consistently draw larger crowds. This is straight-up American-style 'fake news' (not a fan of the term but I'll stick with it for now) coming to Taiwan on the backs of bigots.

Another report I've heard of from a few sources is that rumors are being spread that the proposed changes to the civil code would also make sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor (so, basically statutory rape) legal. This is a straight-up lie - the proposed changes would do no such thing - but it is beginning to gain traction.

There's also this poll, which I have my doubts about. The change is far too quick, and doesn't at all square with the turnout we've seen at pro-equality rallies. The question about "pushing legislation through" (rather than simply supporting marriage equality or not) seems oddly worded, at least in English. The sample size is not great, but acceptable, however, I am not sure at all that they adequately got a sample of a variety of ages over 20 if they used land lines: do younger people even know what land lines are? They are almost certainly guaranteed a skewed sample of older folks who are more likely to waver, or not support, equality. The younger people they claimed to have included wouldn't have a land line phone to be reached on! (I don't know much more about this poll - here's a link in Chinese to the guy whose foundation ran it. I don't know who he is, and I have never heard of this particular organization. Have fun.)

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised. Being generally anti-journalist - because accurate reporting on their beliefs and methods would make them look bad, so they have to spread lies - and knowing quite well that the tide of opinion is not swinging their way and likely never will again, the easiest recourse is to lie. Not only that, but to distort, appeal to emotion over logic, insist on respect and an equal platform for unequally-sourced and evidenced views, to insist on respect and ears lent to their religious ranting, to try to equate intolerance of their bigotry with their intolerance of basic equal human rights. In a word, to troll (because I do think purposely making the pro-equality side angry is a part of this). When your views are not supported by logic, evidence, scientific findings or rational debate, but you have decided you must believe them, you basically have to become an ignorant comment thread come to life. Your only choice is to spread 'fake news' through outright lies or carefully-edited media, and appeal to a post-truth world.

In short, it's easy to make it seem as though your side has the most support, when you decline to mention that the other side has almost twice as much: that's what both that MassResistance steaming turd of an article and the video linked above are doing.

Don't believe them. Be smarter than that.

What bothers me is how little I can do about it. I can write about it here, but it would take a level of language ability I don't have to write something in Chinese, and I would gather most Taiwanese not only don't read Lao Ren Cha (hahaha) but don't often read English-language media in general. Even if I did pursue this in Chinese, would the people who need to read it do so? Most likely not. Would it be an effective counter to the barrage of 'fake news' coming from the bigots? Again, most likely not.

It's already had an effect - people are starting to say "well it looks like society really is divided" (it's not, not really), and the government is giving the anti-equality crowd a bigger platform, and more political influence, than they deserve. Remember, the anti-equality fight is mostly led by Christians and Christians make up less than 5% of the Taiwanese population, although they wield considerable influence in both major parties (and the influential ones tend to be wealthy).

I do feel like action needs to be taken, but I'm at a loss as to how.

Another worrying point? Amid all of this post-truth nonsense carried out by people with troubling agendas, right now in Taiwan we're witnessing a generally popular, though with predictably faltering approval ratings, generally 'progressive' DPP administration falter a bit as it tries to wield power, coming across alternately as weak and indecisive or frosty and technocratic. They're grasping for the center and finding it's not holding very well (though that's my own personal impression). Although the liberal/conservative divide, such as it exists at all in a context easily understood in Western terms (which is to say, not really), is not along party lines in Taiwan, certainl elements of the DPP come across as overly conservative, causing more progressive elements to consider dropping support or to drop it altogether in favor of one of the many parties to the left of the DPP, such as the NPP (or any of the others). I've already heard cries of "if the DPP doesn't pass marriage equality, I'm not voting for Tsai in 4 years!" which, to my Bernie Babe ears is alternately appealing and worrying.

On the other side we have a party that looks like it's falling apart, with weird infighting, internal decisions on how party voting will be carried out and apologies for whatever-the-hell from Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu, people calling for her to step down or whatever and all sorts of things that I barely pay attention to, with a group of ultra-ROC-nationalist pro-China zealots and their deep blue supporters on one hand and a more Taiwanized KMT (which I still hate, by the way, the KMT is gonna KMT no matter what and I'm not interested) on the other, and Jason Hsu in there screaming that they all should be better than they are, or ever will be.

KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu


At the center of it all we have crazy-ass Hung, and a potential presidential run by Rich Boss Man Terry Gou. OK, sure. Not so appealing, right? They don't look like they're poised for success anytime soon.

But...does that sound familiar to anyone else?

I know it seems unrelated, but in an environment where one party is a bit weak and unable to convey its basic message while the other one is wracked with infighting, and no third parties are strong enough to really shake up the system, where both major parties either are bleeding support (in the case of the KMT) or might well do so if they don't get their progressive act together (that is, the DPP), all I see is well-fertilized ground for all sorts of insidious post-truth rumor-mongering to take hold and propel Taiwan to the same electoral clusterfuck the US just experienced, because nobody knows what to believe anymore, and will simultaneously denounce professional journalism while eating up lies.

Anyone? Y'all have seen this before, right?

Am I the only one who's worried?