Taiwan braces for cyber attacks

Source: Straits Times (9/20/18)
Taiwan braces for Chinese cyber attacks ahead of elections

Since taking office in May 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party have refused to recognise the Beijing government's claim to Taiwan.

Since taking office in May 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party have refused to recognise the Beijing government’s claim to Taiwan.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG/TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) – Taiwan is bracing for an onslaught of cyber attacks from mainland China ahead of local elections in November intended to undermine a president who has defied Beijing’s efforts to bring the democratically ruled island under its control.

China, along with Russia and North Korea, may be increasingly testing out cyber-hacking techniques in Taiwan before using them against the United States and other foreign powers, according to the Taiwanese government. Continue reading

Kinmen embraces China’s pull

Source: NYT (9/2/18)
Once a Cold War Flashpoint, a Part of Taiwan Embraces China’s Pull
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Chris Horton

A woman digging for clams in Kinmen County, Taiwan, among antitank obstacles installed long ago to defend against China. The skyline of Xiamen, China, is in the distance. CreditCreditBryan Denton for The New York Times

KINMEN COUNTY, Taiwan — The islands of Kinmen County, and the Nationalist troops stationed there, withstood artillery shelling from China long after the Communist victory in the Chinese civil war.

Today, relations between China and Kinmen, just miles apart, are very different indeed.

Kinmen, about twice the size of Manhattan, has been governed from Taiwan since the defeated Nationalists fled China for the islands in 1949. But Taiwan’s main island is 140 miles away, while China looms visibly in the near distance. That distance is narrowing — both literally and figuratively. Continue reading

Supernatural Taiwan

Source: Taipei Times (8/30/10)
Spirits, ghosts, deities and monsters
Ho Ching-yao, author of a compendium on Taiwan’s supernatural beings, creatures and folktales, discusses his research and its significance as Ghost Month enters full swing
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Illustrator Chang Chi-ya’s rendering of Na Tao Ji, a spurned widow who haunts screw pine trees in Taiwan. Illustration courtesy of Chang Chi-ya

On the first day of Ghost Month every year, a sinister, chilly wind would sweep through the streets of Taniao (打貓). The wind would bring the cries of hungry ghosts, terrifying the local populace for the entire month.

On occasion, a 10-meter tall being with a blue face, protruding fangs and twin spiral horns clad in bright red armor would appear, flickering its extremely long tongue covered in flames. Whenever it appeared, the winds would stop and the ghosts would quiet down.

The people were grateful to this deity, who eventually became known as Dashiye (大士爺), and worshiped it every first of July by creating an effigy of it and hiring monks to ease the suffering of the ghosts. Continue reading

Olympic name change referendum

Source: Taipei Times (9/4/18)
Over 520,000 join call for Olympic name change
The campaign nearly doubled the required number of signatures to qualify for the referendum to change the national sports team’s name in 2020
By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Olympic bronze medalist and National Policy Adviser to the President Chi Cheng, back row seventh left, and civic groups yesterday hold a news conference outside the Central Election Commission in Taipei as they deliver 526,688 signatures for a referendum proposal to change the national Olympic team’s name from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan.” Photo: CNA

Civic groups yesterday delivered to the Central Election Commission more than 520,000 signatures collected for a referendum proposal to change the national sports team’s name from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

At a news conference in front of the commission headquarters, Olympic medalist and campaign spokeswoman Chi Cheng (紀政) thanked supporters for helping them reach the threshold of 281,745 signatures and urged people to vote on the referendum, which is to take place alongside the nine-in-one local elections in November. Continue reading

Taiwan loses El Salvador

Source: SupChina (8/21/18)
Taiwan loses El Salvador
Beijing counted another small victory in its decades-long endeavor to box Taiwan out of international space when yet another country broke diplomatic ties with the island in favor of the PRC: El Salvador.
By Lucas Niewenhuis

  • El Salvador’s president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, said in a televised address, “We are convinced this is a step in the right direction that corresponds to the principles of international law, of international relations and the inevitable trends of our time,” the Guardian reports.
  • Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said that the real issue was that “El Salvador had asked Taiwan to provide an ‘astronomical sum’ in financial aid for a port project that officials believed would leave both countries in debt,” according to the Guardian. Continue reading

Tsai Ing-wen made rare stopover in US

Source: The Diplomat (8/14/18)
Tsai Ing-wen Made a Rare, High-Profile Stopover in the US
As Beijing increases its pressure on Taipei, Tsai vows “to be firm so that no one can obliterate Taiwan.”
By Charlotte Gao

Tsai Ing-wen is greeted by supporters at the Los Angeles Airport. Image Credit: Office of the President, ROC (Taiwan)

Ahead of her nine-day state visit to Taiwan’s diplomatic allies Paraguay and Belize, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen made a two-day stopover in the United States. It was her first stopover in the United States since U.S. President Donald Trump in March signed the Taiwan Travel Act, a law encouraging high-level officials of Taiwan to visit the United States and vice versa.

Faced with Beijing’s increasingly intense pressure on Taipei since she came into office, Tsai, in a rare move, made her latest U.S. stopover more high-profile than normal. Continue reading

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.