Taiwan legalizes gay marriage

Source: BBC News (5/17/19)
Taiwan gay marriage: Parliament legalises same-sex unions

Media captionCrowds celebrate as marriage law passes

Taiwan’s parliament has become the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage following a vote on Friday.

In 2017, the island’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry.

Parliament was given a two-year deadline and was required to pass the changes by 24 May.

Lawmakers debated three different bills to legalise same-sex unions and the government’s bill, the most progressive of the three, was passed. Continue reading

Wu Ming-yi at Pen World Voices Festival

Taiwanese writer Wu Ming-yi joins 2019 PEN World Voices Festival

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York is pleased to announce that Taiwanese writer Wu Ming-yi will join two events at the 2019 Pen America World Voices Festival in New York from May 6 to 12.

Tuesday, May 7, 6:30-8:00 pm
“Meditations on War, presented with The Guardian”
Venue: Albertine (972 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10075)

Wu joins Laurent Gaudé (Hear Our Defeats) and Sinan Antoon (The Book of Collateral Damage) for a discussion on how humanity endures the memories of war and struggles to rebuild. Moderated by Julian Borger, world affairs editor for The Guardian.

Thursday, May 9, 6:30-10:00 pm
“Literary Quest: Westbeth Edition”
Venue: Westbeth Artists Housing and Center for the Arts (55 Bethune St., New York, NY 10014)

Salon-style readings and discussions led by Festival authors at the Westbeth Center for the Arts. Wu will read selected passages from his book The Stolen Bicycle.

For more information, please visit PEN World Voices Festival.

Posted by: Yu-Kai Lin carlos.yukai.lin@gmail.com

Literature in the Age of the Anthropocene

Gwennaël Gaffric, La Littérature à l’ère de l’Anthropocène. Une étude écocritique autour des œuvres de l’écrivain taïwanais Wu Ming-yi [Literature at the Age of Anthropocene: An Ecocritical Reading of Wu Ming-yi’s Works]
Foreword by Stéphane Corcuff
Asiathèque, Collection « Études formosanes »

Editor’s presentation:

Taking an ecocritical approach, Gwennaël Gaffric discusses in this book the literary treatment of ecological issues in Taiwan and beyond. He focuses his study on the works by Wu Ming-yi, a major figure in Taiwanese literary, artistic and militant scenes, but he seeks to expand his presentation by putting in perspective and dialogue texts from other contemporary Taiwanese authors, as well as reflections proposed by thinkers from several disciplines and all geographical horizons. He achieves an impressive synthesis, where ecology becomes an ontology of the relationship between humans and non-humans and an epistemological path to think the Anthropocene. Continue reading

Ko Ch’ing-ming (1946-2019)

Scholars devoted to modern literature from Taiwan will be very saddened to learn of the passing of Ko Ch’ing-ming (Ke Qingming) 柯慶明 (March 12, 1946-April 1, 2019). Professor Ko was a voluminous publisher of books of literary scholarship, prose essays, and poetry. His knowledge spanned the premodern and modern periods and both sides of the Taiwan Strait. For over thirty years, his wide-ranging essays on poetry and aesthetics were a regular feature, especially in journals such as Chung-Wai Literature, Lianhe Wenxue, Shi Tansuo, and other prominent venues. Professor Ko was a beloved teacher and mentor to countless students at National Taiwan University and served in a number of leadership roles, including as Director of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature and the Taiwan University Press as well as a consultant to the government on cultural, literary, and linguistic matters. All of this would be enough for an illustrious career, but Professor Ko will likely be best known for his ebullience, warmth, and supportive attitude in his interactions with all sorts of students, colleagues throughout Taiwan, mainland China, and Hong Kong, and internationally in Japan, North America, and Europe. He was especially talented in public settings where he would offer his unique blend of intellectual acumen, stunning humor, and gentle treatment of others. He was a delight to know and one of a kind. The last couple years he had been encountering health issues and was mainly confined to a wheelchair. Despite this, he was still always bubbling over with enthusiasm, insight, and kind words. Recently, he participated in a ceremony awarding an honorary doctorate to the scholar Pang-yuan Ch’i (Qi Bangyuan 齊邦媛). I was really looking forward to seeing him during a planned visit to Taiwan in September and am sorry that we won’t have that chance. Colleagues can find more details on his life from the Department of Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University, which has posted a lengthy tribute and a bibliography, and most major newspapers in Taiwan. A very large tree has fallen. Rest In Peace, 慶明兄.

Christopher Lupke <lupke@ualberta.ca>
University of Alberta

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