Taiwan plans Liu Xiaobo sculpture

Source: NYT (6/1/18)
Taiwan Plans Sculpture Honoring Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel-Winning Activist
By Chris Horton

Mourning the democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo in Taipei, Taiwan, last July.CreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a move likely to anger Beijing, a sculpture commemorating Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner, will be unveiled in Taiwan’s capital in July to honor the democracy activist, who died last year in a Chinese prison.

The sculpture, to be unveiled on July 13, the anniversary of Mr. Liu’s death, will be placed near the Taipei 101 skyscraper, one of the most popular areas in the city for Chinese tourists to visit and take photographs.

“I have always felt great sadness because there is not a place where we can express our grieving for Liu Xiaobo,” Wu’er Kaixi, founder of Friends of Liu Xiaobo, a United States-registered nonprofit, said at a news conference at the Taipei City Council. The group has led the drive to erect the sculpture, and has received support from local lawmakers and funding from nongovernment organizations. Continue reading

China tries to erase Taiwan

Source: NYT (5/25/18)
China Tries to Erase Taiwan, One Ally (and Website) at a Time
By Steven Lee Myers and Chris Horton

The changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. China’s recent efforts to isolate Taiwan, diplomatically and otherwise, have been its most intense in decades, people on the self-governing island say.CreditIsaac Lawrence for The New York Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Can China use its enormous economic and diplomatic leverage to simply erase Taiwan’s international identity?

China seems to be trying. But its increasingly aggressive posture toward Taiwan is creating a backlash here that is undermining Beijing’s ultimate goal: bringing the island’s 23 million residents under its authority.

China continues to peel away the dwindling number of allies that recognize Taiwan as an independent country — most recently, on Thursday, Burkina Faso. This week, it blocked Taiwan’s representatives — even its journalists — from participating, with observer status, in the World Health Organization’s annual assembly in Geneva. Continue reading

Global Island: Taiwan and the World–cfp

“Global Island: Taiwan and the World” Workshop
University of Washington, Seattle
October 18-19, 2018
Hosted by the University of Washington Taiwan Studies Program

From an island embedded within early modern trade networks, in its interactions with colonial and imperial powers, and as a site for development and democracy, Taiwan has been shaped by its global connections and in turn changed the world.  Understanding Taiwan within a global context reveals not just how Taiwan’s history, society, and culture have unfolded, but also how Taiwan has played a crucial role in transnational processes as a site of global production.

The “Global Island” workshop imagines Taiwan within new spatial and chronological contexts, and reorients Taiwan studies away from traditional imaginations of Taiwan as limited to comparatives or cross-straits relations.  This academic workshop will explore the implications of Taiwan’s connections with the world on Taiwanese society and culture, as well as Taiwan’s influence upon the rest of the world.

Keynote speaker: Professor Wen-hsin Yeh (UC Berkeley) Continue reading

Taiwan’s laws on language

Source: Quartz (5/9/18)
Taiwan’s laws on language are showing China what it means to be a modern, inclusive country
By Nikhil Sonnad

Supporters react during a rally after Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei. All are welcome. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

Taiwan was once considered an economic miracle. Now economic progress there has slowed to a halt as China, Taiwan’s imposing neighbor, grows bigger by the day.

But in terms of social progress, Taiwan is decades ahead—showing people in China that a modern, multicultural, and tolerant Chinese society is possible.

Consider the difference between Taiwan and China’s language policies. Legislators in Taiwan are preparing to redefine what constitutes a “national language.” If the new definition is enacted, which is likely, Taiwanese—the local variant of the Minnan language of southern China—will receive equal treatment with Mandarin. That would be unthinkable in China, where Mandarin’s status as the sole standard language is absolute.

The Taiwanese language is everywhere in Taiwan. It is spoken at home by over 80% of the population. Would-be politicians feel the need to campaign in Taiwanese in order to win elections. Yet it has not been given the status of a national language. That is in part because the language has endured long periods of inequity relative to Mandarin, even in Taiwan. When the Kuomintang party arrived on the island in the 1940s, fleeing its losing battle with the Chinese communists, it banned the use of Taiwanese in schools and in the media, declaring that Mandarin should be the language of the island.

The new rule would change that, expanding on a separate act passed last year that gave several indigenous languages “national” status. Areas with large populations that speak Taiwanese will be allowed to use them in official documents and legal affairs. And the government will have an obligation to teach Taiwanese and the indigenous languages as part of the standard, 12-year curriculum, as well as to develop writing systems and dictionaries in those languages.

That level of commitment to minority languages would be impressive even for a Western country. In the United States, for example, it is hard to find national efforts to support any language other than English. But more than anything, the new rule reveals the growing cultural distance between Taiwan and China, and how much Taiwan has developed socially.

China doesn’t like the Minnan that can be heard in shops and food stalls across Taiwan. It considers Minnan, or Taiwanese, the language of the Taiwan independence movement. The prospect of possible retaliation from Beijing has long delayed Taiwan from giving the language a more official status.

China’s policies on minority languages, meanwhile, are stuck in the 20th century. Linguistically, China is extremely diverse. It is home to at least 100 distinct languages. Yet the Chinese government’s policy is based on the Stalinist assertion that a nation must have a single shared language, and that everyone in the nation must speak it. “A national community is inconceivable without a common language,” Stalin wrotein 1913. In 2000, China enacted a law to that effect, establishing putonghua—or “common speech,” as Mandarin is called in China—as the sole national language for the “unification of the country.” That means that Mandarin should come before all other languages.

The official rules in China don’t ban minority languages. And the same law that established Mandarin as the national language states that citizens “shall have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages.”

But in many cases, the Communist Party perceives minority languages as being in conflict with higher-priority concerns, such as the nationwide promotion of Mandarin, national sovereignty, and cultural unification of the kind that Stalin advocated.

“If you promote the use of those [minority] languages in public domains, then the government might have a different view,” says Minglang Zhou, a professor at the University of Maryland who studies minority language policy in China. “They think that threatens the use of putonghua, and citizens’ identification with the Chinese nation.”

The Tibetan language is a good example of how these priorities shake out in practice.

“If you look at Tibetan, you can see this gradual shift from using Tibetan for instruction in classrooms to using Chinese,” Zhou adds. This is mostly the result of the 2000 language law. China might allow minority groups to develop their own languages, but the national effort is focused on getting 80% of citizens speaking Mandarin.

The two goals can be mutually exclusive. Mandarin-speaking teachers are sent to areas where Chinese is not spoken as well, and where they might not be able to speak the local language. The result is that in Tibet, the local language is, at best, relegated to a language class, and not used as the medium of instruction.

In addition to challenging the primacy of Mandarin, the party views the Tibetan language as a threat to Chinese sovereignty and identification with the nation of China. It doesn’t want citizens seeing themselves as Tibetans first. A strong Tibetan language movement might bring that about. China may claim that minorities have the right to develop their languages, but it also put on trial an activist who wanted more Tibetan in schools, accusing him of “inciting separatism.”

Essentially, China is not concerned with making minority languages more frequently spoken. It wants them to be preserved as interesting bits of Chinese history, like artifacts in a museum.

Therein lies the difference with Taiwan. Giving Taiwanese equal status will allow the language to thrive in everyday life, whether in schools, official documents, or popular media. It is not meant to be a historical artifact. If Mandarin is preferred in some setting, it will be because it is a common language, not because it has been deemed so from on high.

Taiwan has had enough time being governed independently from China to develop its own identity. The renewed emphasis on the Taiwanese language is one symptom of that. At the same time, its language policies show how Taiwan has developed into a pluralistic democracy, even as China moves in the opposite direction, toward greater unification. Taiwan’s renewed promotion of indigenous languages tries to reckon with historical injustices, even as China arrests Tibetan language activists. Last year, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage as China shut down a popular lesbian dating app.

In addition to being an act of pluralism, Taiwan’s proposed language law probably has political motivations. It sends a message to China that Taiwan does not need, or want, to abide by Beijing’s rules. But it also shows people in China that top-down unification is not the only way to govern an ethnically and linguistically diverse country where Mandarin is the lingua franca.

Students at NTU march to defend school autonomy (1)

According to other reputable sources, the controversy at NTU is a bit more complex than the version in the SupChina essay, which mainly blames the DPP government… See, for example, the article below.–Sebastian Veg <veg@ehess.fr>

Source: New Bloom (4/30/18)
Block of Kuan’s Appointment Unlikely to End NTU Presidential Controversy
By Brian Hioe


AFTER MUCH back and forth, the decision by the Ministry of Education to block Kuan Chung-ming from being named president of National Taiwan University (NTU) has at least settled the matter that Kuan will not be the next president of NTU. But one does not expect controversy regarding Kuan’s blocked appointment to end anytime soon.

Namely, the matter has long since become one that the KMT and members of the pan-Blue camp have latched onto as a way to claim that the DPP is politically persecuting political dissidence and that university autonomy is under siege. The DPP has probably not helped matters for itself by allowing the matter to drag on for so long without offering clear resolution and the scandal has already claimed the career of Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung, who resigned due to the lack of resolution regarding the scandal. Continue reading

Students at NTU march to defend school autonomy

Source: Sup China (5/3/18)
Students At National Taiwan University March To Defend School Autonomy

Students at the prestigious National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei are planning a protest — dubbed the “New May Fourth Movement” — on Friday, May 4, to object to the Taiwanese government’s interference in the election of the school’s president.

The organizers condemn the “government’s attempt to undermine university autonomy.” Their main complaint is that Taiwan’s Ministry of Education has been attempting to delegitimize NTU’s election of Kuan Chung-ming 管中閔 as its new president. Kuan, a former Kuomintang (KMT) minister, was elected on January 5 by 21 members of the school’s Presidential Search Committee. Since then, the Ministry of Education has accused him of ethical lapses, and said there was a conflict of interest with one of the voting members of the Presidential Search Committee, according to the Taipei Times. Continue reading

Taiwan, Asia’s bastion of free speech

Source: NYT (3/14/18)
Asia’s Bastion of Free Speech? Move Aside, Hong Kong, It’s Taiwan Now.
查看简体中文版  | 查看繁體中文版

A view of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, which has emerged as one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies, drawing the political dissidents and rights groups that once naturally gravitated to Hong Kong. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan — For decades under British rule and after its handover to China, Hong Kong was a bastion of free speech in the Chinese-speaking world. International media and rights groups established their headquarters there, and it served as a haven for political fugitives, from Tiananmen student leaders to Edward Snowden.

In recent years, however, as Beijing has tightened its grip on the former colony, Hong Kong has been increasingly supplanted by Taiwan, a self-governing island that has emerged as one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies. Taiwan now draws the sorts of dissidents, rights groups and events that once naturally gravitated to Hong Kong. Continue reading

Taiwan Studies Workshop–cfp reminder

sponsored by Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and Harvard University
DATE: October 12-13, 2018
PLACE: University of California, Davis
ELIGIBILITY: Assistant professors, PhD students, and independent scholars in North America and Europe
THEME:“Ecologizing Taiwan: Nature, Society, Culture”

Inspired by Felix Guattari’s Three Ecologies, this workshop extends the definition of ecology to encompass social relations and human subjectivity, as well as environmental concerns. With Taiwan as the focus either in itself or within a comparative framework, papers are invited to examine the human, non-human, and post-human Sinosphere as well as the earth. Other topics that study Taiwan from humanistic or social scientific perspectives are welcome too. 

FUNDING: Funding for economy-class airfares and hotel accommodations for two nights will be provided for speakers.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: May 1, 2018. Please send the title of the paper and an abstract of 100-120 words to: David Der-wei Wang at dwang@fas.harvard.edu and Michelle Yeh at mmyeh@ucdavis.edu.

INVITATIONS will be sent out by May 31, 2018.

Man Booker reverses decision on Wu Ming-Yi

Source: The Guardian (4/4/18)
Man Booker prize reverses nationality decision on Taiwanese author
The literary prize announces that it will no longer list authors by nationality, but by country or territory, after drawing criticism when it bowed to pressure from China
By Alison Flood

Proudly Taiwanese … Wu Ming-Yi, pictured in Taipei in 2016.

Proudly Taiwanese … Wu Ming-Yi, pictured in Taipei in 2016. Photograph: Wu Ming-Yi/EPA

The Man Booker International prize has backed away from its decision to change a Taiwanese author’s nationality to “Taiwan, China” after it was criticised for bowing to pressure from Beijing.

Author Wu Ming-Yi, who has been longlisted for his novel The Stolen Bicycle, was originally described by award organisers as a writer from Taiwan, when his nomination was announced in March. Following a complaint from the Chinese embassy in London last week, his nationality was changed on the prize’s website to “Taiwan, China”.

Beijing maintains that the self-governed island is part of China, and has recently ramped up pressure on foreign companies that describe Taiwan as a country, with German airline Lufthansa and British Airways dropping Taiwan from their lists of countries.

The switch was noted by Wu on his Facebook page, where he said it was “not my personal position on this issue”. The cause was also taken up by Taiwan’s ministry of culture, which stated that Taiwan was “a sovereign state that participates in international affairs with respect and fairness”, and called on the Booker Prize Foundation not to “bow to external influence and … respect authors and their home countries”.

As the Man Booker International prize’s Facebook page was flooded with one-star reviews and petitions were launched calling on it to reverse its decision and identify Wu’s country as Taiwan, the organisers announced on Wednesday morning that “following correspondence with stakeholders and additional guidance on the appropriate terminology from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office”, in the future it would list the “country/territory” of authors up for the prize, rather than their nationalities. Wu will again be listed as “Taiwan”.

“The prize is not about defining nationality; all global citizens are eligible, provided they are published in translation in the UK,” said the organisers in a statement.

A spokesperson for the prize added: “It is the country/territory of origin rather than nationality. Taiwan is officially designated a territory rather than a country by the FCO.”

The Chinese embassy, which initially complained to the Foundation about how it had identified Wu, said in a statement: “China’s position on the Taiwan issue is consistent and clear. There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. This is the universal consensus of the international community. China opposes any words or deeds that violate the one-China principle and are contrary to the international consensus.”

Man Booker bows to pressure

Source: The Telegraph (3/30/18)
Fury as Man Booker bows to pressure to list Taiwan as Chinese province
By Nicola Smith and Neil Conner

Wu Ming-Yi, with the cover of his book The Stolen Bicycle, which has been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2018 CREDIT: MAN BOOKER PRIZE

One of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes has been dragged into a diplomatic spat between China and Taiwan after it caved in to pressure from Beijing to change the nationality of a Taiwanese nominee on its website.

The Man Booker International Prize said on Friday that it had changed the nationality of Professor Wu Ming-yi, 46, one of 13 authors on the 2018 longlist, from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China” after it had received a complaint from the Chinese embassy in London. Continue reading

Taipei lashes out over banning of ‘pro-independence’ actor

Source: SCMP (3/29/18)
Taipei lashes out at Beijing after film with ‘pro-independence’ actor banned
Mainland accused of inconsistency ‘in its words and deeds’ after Missing Johnny screenings barred over claims about its star Lawrence Ko
By Lawrence Chung

Lawrence Ko stars in Missing Johnny, which follows the stories of three young people living in Taipei. Photo: Handout

Taipei has accused Beijing of inconsistency between what it says and does after a Taiwanese film was banned on the mainland amid claims its lead actor Lawrence Ko supports independence for the island.

It comes a month after Beijing introduced a raft of preferential policies for Taiwanese that include more access to the lucrative mainland market for their film, television and books. Continue reading

Taiwan Studies Workshop–cfp

sponsored by Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange
Harvard University
DATE: October 12-13, 2018
PLACE:  University of California, Davis
ELIGIBILITY: Assistant professors, PhD students, and independent scholars in North America and Europe
THEME: “Ecologizing Taiwan: Nature, Society, Culture”

Inspired by Felix Guattari’s Three Ecologies, this workshop extends the definition of ecology to encompass social relations and human subjectivity, as well as environmental concerns. With Taiwan as the focus either in itself or within a comparative framework, papers are invited to examine the human, non-human, and post-human Sinosphere as well as the earth. Other topics that study Taiwan from humanistic or social scientific perspectives are welcome too. 

FUNDING: Funding for economy-class airfares and hotel accommodations for two nights will be provided for speakers.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: May 1, 2018. Please send the title of the paper and an abstract of 100-120 words to: David Der-wei Wang at dwang@fas.harvard.edu and Michelle Yeh at mmyeh@ucdavis.edu.

INVITATIONS will be sent out by May 31, 2018.

The Stolen Bicycle nominated for Man Booker

Source: Taipei Times (3/14/18)
‘The Stolen Bicycle’ to compete with 12 books for prestigious Man Booker prize
Staff Writer, with CNA

A copy of The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-yi, published in Australia by Text Publishing, is pictured in a publicity photograph. Photo from Grayhawk Agency’s Facebook page

The Stolen Bicycle (單車失竊記), a novel written by Taiwanese author Wu Ming-yi (吳明益) and translated into English by Darryl Sterk, has been selected to contend for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize.

The novel is about a writer who embarks on a quest in search of his missing father’s stolen bicycle.

It was included on a list of 13 novels revealed on Monday by the UK-based Booker Prize Foundation, the organizer of the prize, which rewards the finest work in translated fiction from around the world that is published in the UK and available in English.

This is the first time a work by a Taiwanese writer has been included on the list.

“I’m honored to be listed among them, and the nationality [was listed] as ‘Taiwan,’” Wu said in a Facebook post, expressing his appreciation to the book’s translator, publisher and readers.

The judges considered 108 books this year, the foundation said. Continue reading

Animal Writing in Taiwan Literature

Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series, Issue Number 41: Special Issue on “Animal Writing in Taiwan Literature” is available now. See the link for more information. Please also see the table of contents below.


Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series
Issue Number 41, January, 2018
ISBN: 978-986-350-262-3
GPN: 1010700001

Publisher: US-Taiwan Literature Foundation & National Taiwan University Press

台灣文學英譯叢刊(No. 41): 台灣文學的動物書寫專輯

Kuo-ch’ing Tu (杜國清)、 Terence Russell(羅德仁) 編
Chia-ju Chang (張嘉如), Guest-Editor (客座編輯)

Table of Contents:

Foreword to the Special Issue on Animal Writing in Taiwan Literature/Kuo-ch’ing Tu
「台灣文學的動物書寫專輯」卷頭語/杜國清 Continue reading