Over 1000 exonerated of crimes in 1947 crackdown

Source: Focus Taiwan (2/27/19)
Over 1,000 people exonerated of crimes in 1947 crackdown

CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) More than 1,000 people who were wrongly convicted during a brutal crackdown following an islandwide anti-government uprising in 1947 were absolved of any crime on Wednesday, according to the Transitional Justice Commission (TJC).

A total of 1,056 names were included on the latest list of exonerations published on the TJC website. Among them, 70 were provided by the 228 Memorial Foundation and are eligible for government compensation. Continue reading

English as a national language in Taiwan

Source: The Asia Dialogue (1/17/19)
English as a National Language
Written by Isabel Eliassen and Timothy S. Rich.

Image credit: CC by <cleverCl@i®ê>/ Flickr.

For several months, Taiwanese officials have been drafting plans to make Taiwan into a Mandarin-English bilingual nation. By 2019 the government hopes to have concrete policy goals in place. So far, the policies center around increasing the number of qualified English teachers in Taiwan, utilizing free online resources, and more intensive English classes starting at a younger age.

The administration aims to make Taiwan fully bilingual by 2030. Singapore, even with a British colonial influence, took 20 years to establish English bilingual policy, with schools teaching English alongside the first languages of Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil, so Taiwan’s 2030 goal appears quite ambitious. Even if Taiwan is not fully bilingual by that time, it will be clear whether the new policies have been effective or if they need to be revised. The government has also set several short-term goals, including having versions of government websites in English and encouraging government employees to use English at work. Continue reading

The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine (1)

It might interest list members to know that the Grand Hotel in Taipei now stands on the grounds of what was once the Taiwan shintō shrine (台灣神社). I’ve never heard of the 1974 edict, if anything I would have expected such an order to come down decades earlier, maybe the 1950s? At any rate, those interested in stories like this should check out Joe Allen’s book Taipei: City of Displacements. The story of the horse in a park resonates in particular with the incomplete erasure of Japanese flags.

Bert Scruggs <bms@uci.edu>

The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine

Source: Taipei Times (1/11/19)
Highways and Byways: The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine
The Bilian Temple in Hualien County’s Shoufeng Township is one of many structures throughout the nation that uses Chinese iconography to paper over Japan’s presence in Taiwan
By Steven Crook  /  Contributing reporter

Externally, Bilian Temple in Hualien County’s Shoufeng Township today resembles thousands of other places of worship in Taiwan. Photo: Steven Crook

I’m not interested in remnants of the colonial period as much as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) efforts after World War II to erase the Japanese imprint. Recently, I was thrilled to learn of a few old houses in the south that bear Republic of China (ROC) embossed flags on their facades — but where the post-1945 paint job is now so faded it’s possible to see Hinomaru (the Japanese flag) emblems that were the original adornments.

The KMT’s animosity toward Japan was understandable given Japanese aggression and wartime atrocities when it ruled Taiwan as a colony from 1895 to 1945. After 1949, however, Japan was a key trading partner and an important investor. What’s more, Taipei and Tokyo were both closely aligned with Washington. However, Japan’s 1972 decision to break off diplomatic ties with the ROC and establish formal relations with the People’s Republic of China provoked a fresh wave of anti-Japanese sentiment, at least among the ROC leaders. Continue reading

Open letter to democratic Taiwan

Source: Taipei Times (1/9/19)
Open letter to democratic Taiwan

We the undersigned scholars, former government and military officials, and other friends of Taiwan who have witnessed and admired Taiwan’s transition to democracy for many decades wish to express to the people of Taiwan our sense of urgency to maintain unity and continuity at this critical moment in Taiwan’s history.

It is obvious that during the past two years, the People’s Republic of China has left no stone unturned in its attempts to squeeze Taiwan’s international space, threaten it with a buildup of military power and make it appear as if Taiwan’s only future lies in integration with an authoritarian China.

This pressure culminated on Wednesday last week with a speech by Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), telling the Taiwanese people that “the Taiwan question” was a Chinese internal affair, that unification under China’s “one country, two systems” principle was the only option for the future and Taiwan independence was a “dead end.” Continue reading

Xi warns Taiwan

Source: NYT (1/1/19)
Xi Jinping Warns Taiwan That Unification Is the Goal and Force Is an Option
By Chris Buckley and Chris Horton

China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Wednesday. “We make no promise to abandon the use of force,” he said in a speech about Taiwan. CreditPool photo by Mark Schiefelbein

BEIJING — China’s president, Xi Jinping, warned Taiwan that unification must be the ultimate goal of any talks over its future and that efforts to assert full independence could be met by armed force, laying out an unyielding position on Wednesday in his first major speech about the contested island democracy.

Mr. Xi outlined his stance one day after Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, urged China to peacefully settle disputes over the island, whose 23 million people, she said, want to preserve their self-rule. But Beijing treats Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway from Chinese rule, and Mr. Xi said unification was unstoppable as China rose. Continue reading

Chthonic live streams to HK after visa rejection

Source: Focus Taiwan (12/26/18)
Taiwan band Chthonic live streams to HK after visa rejection
By William Yen

Image taken from www.facebook.com/HOCCHOCC

Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) A Taiwanese heavy metal band performed for their fans in Hong Kong by live video streaming a performance Tuesday, after their frontman, a pro-Taiwan independence lawmaker, was denied a work visa to perform in the special administrative region.

Freddy Lim (林昶佐), a legislator from Taiwan’s New Power Party and his band Chthonic jammed over Facebook Live with Canto-pop star Denise Ho on the second to last day of a music festival the band was invited to perform at. Continue reading

Plan to make Taiwan bilingual by 2030

Source: Taipei Times (12/5/18)
Bilingual by 2030, council says
Tamkang University professor Hsu Sung-ken said that the government should set the goal of having English as ‘a communication tool for the next generation’
By Wu Chia-ying and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Premier William Lai presides over a ceremony on Friday in Taipei to honor this year’s outstanding civil servants. Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The National Development Council yesterday proposed eight major policies to Premier William Lai (賴清德) in a plan outlining how to turn Taiwan into a Chinese-English bilingual country by the year 2030 to embrace global competition.

The plan, which the council delivered to the premier in a report, would devise key performance indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of the policies in a year.

The eight major policies are: making all official government Web sites bilingual, making official documents used by foreigners bilingual, providing bilingual frontline services in public settings, making the government’s public data available in English, making laws and regulations that pertain to foreigners bilingual, promoting bilingual services in cultural and educational settings, training civil servants to conduct business in English, and making professional and technical licensure exams available in English. Continue reading

Death of Lin Ruiming

Colleagues interested in Taiwanese literature may wish to know that the renowned stalwart of Taiwan literary scholarship Lin Ruiming 林瑞明 also known by his penname Lin Fan 林梵 passed away on Monday. Lin was probably best known for being the founding director of the National Museum of Taiwan Literature (國立台灣文學館), which he headed up in its early planning days of 2003-2005. Lin was ever present at the Museum. His other major achievement was his work on the doyen of early Taiwan literature, Lai He 賴和, whose complete works he edited. He also compiled a collection of Lai He’s original manuscripts.

Lin Ruiming wrote poetry under his penname Lin Fan. He studied history at National Chenggong University 國立成功大學 and received an MA in history from National Taiwan University. He lived most of his life in his hometown of Tainan, where the Museum is located. He had an effervescent personality and a convivial way of welcoming people to Taiwan. For years, he battled kidney disease and was regularly tethered to dialysis, but he never spoke of it and he never let it slow him down. He championed the culture of Taiwan as few others have and his presence will be missed but not forgotten.

Christopher Lupke lupke@ualberta.ca
University of Alberta

Taiwan’s political landscape change overnight

Source: Sup China (11/24/18)
Taiwan’s Political Landscape Changes Overnight
Taiwan’s ‘midterms’ give the ruling DPP a slap in the face and disappoint LGBT activists
By Chris Taylor

Tsai Ing-wen

On Saturday, the people of Taiwan headed to the polls to cast ballots for nearly 11,000 officials, in local elections — think mid-terms — and essentially repainted the map of Taiwan blue from green, or from ruling party Democratic Progressive Party (民進黨 mínjìndǎng) broadly pro-independence to the more China-friendly Nationalist, or Kuomindang (國民黨 guómíndǎng).

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) resigned as DPP party chairperson at around 9:15 p.m. Taiwan time. Rumors were circulating that her cabinet would follow suit, after a series of decisive electoral defeats island-wide. Continue reading

Taiwan accuses China of election meddling

Source: Asia Times (11/8/18)
Taiwan’s government accuses China of meddling in elections
A senior Democratic Progressive Party political advisor has compared Beijing’s alleged actions to Russia’s annexation of Crimea
By CHRIS TAYLOR @CHRISVTAYLOR

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (centre left) poses for a group photo during a campaign event with grassroots supporters in Taipei on November 7. Photo: AFP / Chris Stowers

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (centre left) poses for a group photo during a campaign event with grassroots supporters in Taipei on November 7. Photo: AFP / Chris Stowers

Amid reports of Chinese “meddling” in upcoming local elections on November 24, one advisor close to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has described the situation as far more severe than is generally realized.

Writing from Washington DC, Antonio Chiang, vice-president of the General Association of Chinese Culture and a presidential advisor, told Asia Times: “I am here in DC to talk about China’s influence on our elections.

“They are playing the same game, like the Russians in Crimea.” Continue reading

Interview with Xu Youyu

Yaxue Cao has published an interesting interview with Xu Youyu in which he reminisces about the character development of Liu Xiaobo, the role of intellectuals during times of ferment, and Professor Xu’s own experiences of detention and interrogation.  Looking forward, he comments, “I don’t think that the fascist forces and tendencies in China have reached their extreme yet. The worst is yet to come.”–A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

Source: China Change (10/31/18)
An Interview With Xu Youyu: ‘The Worst Is Yet to Come’

This is part of China Change’s new interview series that seeks to understand the effort of civil society in bringing change to China over the past 30 years. The interview was conducted in June 2018 by Yaxue Cao, editor of this website, at Professor Xu Youyu’s home in Flushing, New York City. — The Editors

Xu Youyu, screenshot photo

Photo, Xu Youyu, China Change

Yaxue Cao (YC): Professor Xu, would you mind first introducing yourself to our readers?

Xu Youyu (XY): My name is Xu Youyu (徐友渔); I was born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in 1947. I was in the graduating class at the Chengdu No. 1 Secondary School in 1966 when the Cultural Revolution erupted — right when I was enrolling for the national college entrance examination. Later, I got deeply wrapped up in the Cultural Revolution and became a leader of a mass organization, and as a result I gained a great deal of understanding of what it was all about. This has put me at an extraordinary advantage for studying the Cultural Revolution period in my scholarship now. I was one of the first new entrants to university in 1977 when matriculation resumed. But I’d only studied undergraduate for a little over a semester when, unprecedentedly, I was recommended to take the graduate exams. I transferred to the China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing in 1979 to become a grad student, and worked at CASS from then on until my retirement. During that period, in 1986, I studied at Oxford for a couple of years. I retired in 2008. Continue reading

Same-sex marriage vote in Taiwan nears

Source: NYT (10/27/18)
Taiwan’s Gay Pride Parade Draws Thousands, as Votes on Same-Sex Marriage Near
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Chris Horton

The annual gay pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan, is the biggest event of its kind in East Asia. Organizers said about 137,000 people showed up on Saturday.CreditCreditAshley Pon for The New York Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A year ago, participants in Taipei’s annual gay pride parade — the biggest event of its kind in East Asia — had a lot to celebrate.

Taiwan’s constitutional court had given the government until May 2019 to legalize same-sex marriage, ruling that the civil code’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. If the government didn’t meet the deadline, the court said, same-sex marriage would simply become legal automatically.

That deadline is now barely half a year away. But the democratic island will hold referendums on same-sex marriage on Nov. 24, and many of the estimated 137,000 marchers at the pride parade on Saturday expressed both frustration at the lack of progress and cautious optimism for their cause. Continue reading

It’s all about food that’s ‘Q’

Lu Xun makes another appearance in the US mass media.–Kirk

Source: NYT (10/4/18)
In Italy, ‘Al Dente’ Is Prized. In Taiwan, It’s All About Food That’s ‘Q.’
By Amy Qin

Taiwanese tapioca for sale at the Lehua Night Market in Taipei. It has the prized “Q” texture of Taiwanese food. CreditCreditBilly H.C. Kwok for The New York Times

NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan — As dusk falls at Lehua Night Market, the fluorescent lights flicker on and the hungry customers start trickling in, anxious for a taste of the local delicacies that give this island its reputation as one of Asia’s finest culinary capitals.

Neatly arranged pyramids of plump fish balls. Bowls brimming with tapioca balls bathed in lightly sweetened syrup. Sizzling oyster omelets, hot off the griddle. Deep-fried sweet potato puffs, still dripping with oil.

Take a bite of any of these dishes and you’ll discover a unique texture. But how exactly do you describe that perfectly calibrated “mouth feel” so sought after by local cooks and eaters alike?

Slippery? Chewy? Globby? Not exactly the most flattering adjectives in the culinary world.

Luckily, the Taiwanese have a word for this texture. Well, actually, it’s not a word, it’s a letter — one that even non-Chinese speakers can pronounce.

It’s “Q.”

Continue reading