Claims of meddling roil Taiwan elections

Source: NYT (12/6/19)
Claims of China’s Meddling Roil Taiwan Ahead of Elections
A would-be Chinese defector named two Hong Kong executives as acting as a front for Chinese intelligence agencies. The authorities in Taiwan had started tracking them in 2016.
By Steven Lee Myers and Chris Horton

Soldiers at a flag-lowering ceremony at Liberty Square in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, last month. The self-governing island will vote for a new president in January. Credit…Henry Lin/EPA, via Shutterstock

TAIPEI, Taiwan — In December 2016, Xiang Xin, a businessman based in Hong Kong, and his wife asked the government in Taiwan for permission to invest in real estate, as foreigners must do. After a four-month investigation, officials rejected their application.

“Their relationship with China’s People’s Liberation Army was extraordinarily close,” Chang Ming-pin, executive secretary of the commission at Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs that reviews foreign investments, said in an interview. “That complicated things.”

Now Mr. Xiang’s name has surfaced again in a possibly related intrigue. Last month, he was identified at the center of an extraordinary — if still largely unverified — tale of covert operations by China’s military intelligence agencies to undermine democracy in Taiwan. Continue reading

How Prague’s relations with Beijing soured

Source: NYT (11/23/19)
The Broken Promise of a Panda: How Prague’s Relations With Beijing Soured
When a new mayor of the Czech capital refused to toe the line on Taiwan, Beijing severed its sister-city relationship. Broader repercussions followed.
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By Marc Santora

Chanji and Ding Cha, Shanghai natives who are studying in Europe, visited Prague for a wedding photo session and a few days in the city last month. China has threatened to reduce tourism to the city. Credit…Kasia Strek for The New York Times

PRAGUE — On the top floor of an opulent Art Deco building in the heart of old Prague, the new lord mayor was standing with a glass of sparkling wine in hand, greeting diplomats as they made their way into his official residence for a New Year’s gathering.

But when the Chinese ambassador reached Mayor Zdenek Hrib, the diplomat was not in a celebratory mood.

“He demanded that I kick out the representative of Taiwan,’’ Mr. Hrib recalled of the confrontation last January. “I said, ‘We do not kick out our guests.’”

As the line of people backed up, with other ambassadors urging the Chinese representative to move on, he grew more and more incensed until, finally, he stormed out. Continue reading

NATSA 2020–cfp

Call for Papers: North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA) annual conference (Dec 15 deadline)
Keywording Taiwan
May 22-24, 2020
University of California-Irvine

Important dates

Submission deadline: December 15, 2019
Notification of first-round acceptance: February 21, 2020
Notification of final-round acceptance: March 8, 2020
Travel grant application deadline: March 24, 2020
Notification of travel grant results: March 29, 2020
Early-bird registration deadline: March 31, 2020
Full paper (4000-6000 words, excluding references) deadline: April 7, 2020
Regular registration deadline: April 10, 2020
Conference: May 22-24, 2020

Conference Theme: Keywording Taiwan

The 26th NATSA annual conference – Keywording Taiwan – aims to identify core issues, historical turning points, critical populations, and fundamental theoretical arguments on Taiwan amongst transregional and interdisciplinary scholarship. As both a geopolitical margin of imperial orders and an economic hub between competing powers, Taiwan has witnessed diverse dynamism and key transitions on various levels. During the past quarter-century, Taiwan studies has contested heterogeneous historical experiences and generate productive dialogues across various disciplines and issues. Continue reading

Land/scaping Taiwan–cfp

CFP: Land/scaping Taiwan: (Non-)Humans, Environment, and Moments of Encounter
Proposals due: December 21, 2019
University of Washington, Seattle
April 17-18, 2020

Sponsored by the UW Taiwan Studies Program, UW Department of Landscape Architecture/College of Built Environments, and Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation

We are seeking proposals for a small, intensive workshop on the theme of “Land/scaping Taiwan: (Non-)Humans, Environment, and Moments of Encounter,” to be held at the University of Washington, Seattle on April 17-18, 2020.

Landscapes often exist as material records, surrounding environments, or representations. We propose to move beyond these frameworks to see landscapes as embodied modes of habitation and of human and non-human encounters with the land in which ongoing processes of acting in and with the world take place. By focusing on processes of encounter, occupation, and mediation, we also seek to redefine “land” more broadly, for example on human interactions with natural, social, and imagined worlds, or alternate -scapes such as waterscapes, bodyscapes, technoscapes, mediascapes, cyberscapes, etc. Continue reading

Hoklo spy film fest

Source: Taipei Times (11/13/19)
Taiwan’s femme fatales brought back to life
Only about 200 out of over 1,000 Hoklo-language films made between 1955 and 1981 remain, with female spy flicks one of the intriguing genres
by Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Movie poster for The Best Secret Agent, a 1964 Hoklo-language femme fatale movie. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Film Institute

The two existing film copies of The Best Secret Agent (天字第一號) were both in terrible condition. One was overexposed with significant damage in the highlight areas, while the other showed severe deterioration with scratches, stains, mold and flaky coating.

However, it was fortunate that the 1964 Hoklo-language (also known as Taiwanese) femme fatale flick was preserved at all. After the decline of the Hoklo film industry in the late 1970s, many directors sold their reels to scrap dealers, while the film strips ended up as linings for shirt collars, straw hats and wooden sandals. Countless more were lost to floods, fires and the ravages of time. When people started paying attention to these movies again in the 1990s, many had already been permanently lost.

Lee Cheng-liang (李政亮), assistant professor at National Chengchi University’s College of Communication, estimates that out of the more than 1,000 Hoklo films produced between 1956 and 1981, only about 200 remain.

The Taiwan Film Institute (國家電影中心) has taken on the role of preserving, restoring and digitizing these films since 2013. What remains is still quite diverse in genre and style — many taken straight from Hollywood, resulting in curious and campy Taiwanese Westerns and spy movies often featuring female leads. Continue reading

Going Home

Source: China Channel, LARB (11/8/19)
Going Home
By  and 

Taiwanese fiction by Loa Ho, translated by Darryl Sterk
Editor’s note: Loa Ho (賴和), also known as Lazy Cloud, was a Taiwanese poet, born in 1894. A doctor by profession, it was his contribution to the literary republic – overlooked today – that led him to be hailed as the “father of modern Taiwanese literature.” This 1932 story, translated and republished in the new collection Scales of Injustice, was first published in the founding issue of Voice of the South (南音), a literary journal where Taiwanese cultural elites hoped to communicate with the wider public.

If a product is not up to standard in the factory you still have the chance to fix it, but if it makes it all the way to the market and customers don’t like it, it’s useless and will get thrown away. That’s how I felt when I arrived home after graduating from university, like a reject. It was an unpleasant homecoming.

Several days after I got home I lost the courage to go out, because every time I did I met relatives or friends who would say, “Congratulations, you graduated!” Which I found terrifying, because it would remind me that I had left the factory and was en route to the market. In the first few days, of course, I was happy to be reunited with my family after a long absence. I didn’t yet feel lonely. But soon I was used to being home again and realized all the adults in the family were busy, and that most of my younger brothers and sisters were still in school. Playing with the youngest, who were not yet old enough for school, made me happy, but it was embarrassing when I tried to discipline them, because they would always start crying. I really didn’t know how to comfort them. Even playing with them, I often made them cry, which opened me to complaints from the one who was actually responsible for taking care of the kids. So I just sat around at home and felt bored and useless. Continue reading

Beijing asks Chinese students to leave Taiwan

Source: Taiwan News (11/10/19)
Beijing asks Chinese students to leave Taiwan before presidential election: report
Message spreading among Chinese students and their parents
By Teng Pei-ju, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Taiwanese cast their votes.

Taiwanese cast their votes. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Beijing has reportedly asked Chinese students to leave Taiwan before the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for January 11, even though some students have said they would rather stay on the island to observe the voting process themselves.

A Chinese municipal government office that handles the affairs of local residents with children studying in Taiwan has announced that students are advised to return to China before January 11, according to a screenshot sent by a parent to Apple Daily on Saturday (Nov. 9). The message does not provide an explanation, but many believe it is meant to prevent Chinese students from staying in the country while the Taiwanese electorate casts its ballot for the next leader of the country. Continue reading

The Trouble with Taiwan (1)

I am an American anthropologist who is preparing an analysis of a key Taiwan public health system. Totaling almost a decade living and researching here off and on since since the 1980s, I have personally witnessed and thought much about the political processes this book promises to discuss.  Assuming the facts adduced in the review accurately reflect its content, I speculate the volume will become required reading for public officials whose duties encompass managing cross-strait relations. I include in this category persons in Europe and North American and, more particularly, in Taiwan and mainland China.

Jim Martin <>

Sanmao, wandering writer

Source: NYT (10/23/19)
Overlooked No More: Sanmao, ‘Wandering Writer’ Who Found Her Voice in the Desert
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Her book, “Stories of the Sahara,” has endured for generations of young Taiwanese and Chinese women yearning for independence from conservative social norms.
By Mike Ives and Katherine Li

The writer Sanmao in an undated photo. Her self-assured prose filled books of essays about her intrepid travels across three continents. Credit…Huang Chen Tien Hsin, Chen Sheng and Chen Chieh through Crown Publishing Company Ltd.

This article is part of Overlooked, a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

In the early 1970s, the Taiwanese writer Sanmao saw an article about the Sahara Desert in National Geographic magazine and told her friends that she wanted to travel there and cross it.

They assumed she was joking, but she would eventually go on that journey and write that the vast Sahara was her “dream lover.”

“I looked around at the boundless sand across which the wind wailed, the sky high above, the landscape majestic and calm,” she wrote in a seminal 1976 essay collection, “Stories of the Sahara,” of arriving for the first time at a windswept airport in the Western Saharan city of El Aaiún.

“It was dusk,” she continued. “The setting sun stained the desert the red of fresh blood, a sorrowful beauty. The temperature felt like early winter. I’d expected a scorching sun, but instead found a swathe of poetic desolation.” Continue reading

The Trouble with Taiwan

Source: SCMP (10/26/19)
The Trouble with Taiwan – book maps out why the world should care about the self-ruled island
Charting the island’s history, Kerry Brown and Kalley Wu Tzu-hui underscore the global significance of its relationship with China. Makes the case for why the world should pay attention to what happens in Taiwan and to its citizens
By Kit Gillet

The Trouble with Taiwan maps out the island’s history, underscoring the global significance of its relationship with China and making the case for why the world should still care, very much, about what happens next. Photo: Shutterstock

The Trouble with Taiwan maps out the island’s history, underscoring the global significance of its relationship with China and making the case for why the world should still care, very much, about what happens next. Photo: Shutterstock

The Trouble with Taiwan: History, the United States and a Rising China
by Kerry Brown and Kalley Wu Tzu-hui

Zed Books

The Trouble with Taiwan is a provocative title for a book, but then a lot about Taiwan is provocative, depending on who you’re talking to.

Tensions between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (as Taiwan is officially called) have not ceased since the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island in 1949, after losing the civil war to Mao Zedong’s communist forces. As such, alongside the unresolved conflict between North and South Korea, the stand-off is seen as one of the last vestiges of the cold war.

Now, in an age when China is a global superpower, Taiwan’s position is of particular importance, both symbolically as well as practically. How other nations treat Taiwan and its citizens is directly related to their willing­ness to either alienate or placate China. At the same time, how China deals with Taiwan is seen as the great litmus test for its fitness to remain a global power. So far the jury is out, but, as Kerry Brown and Kalley Wu Tzu-hui write, “the stakes could not be higher”. Continue reading

China and Taiwan clash over Wikipedia edits

Source: BBC News (10/5/19)
China and Taiwan clash over Wikipedia edits
By Carl Miller

Jamie Lin

Jamie Lin – seen on the left – is one of many Taiwanese Wikipedians concerned about changes being made to the online encylopedia

Ask Google or Siri: “What is Taiwan?”

“A state”, they will answer, “in East Asia”.

But earlier in September, it would have been a “province in the People’s Republic of China”.

For questions of fact, many search engines, digital assistants and phones all point to one place: Wikipedia. And Wikipedia had suddenly changed.

The edit was reversed, but soon made again. And again. It became an editorial tug of war that – as far as the encyclopedia was concerned – caused the state of Taiwan to constantly blink in and out of existence over the course of a single day.

“This year is a very crazy year,” sighed Jamie Lin, a board member of Wikimedia Taiwan.

“A lot of Taiwanese Wikipedians have been attacked.” Continue reading

Golden Horse devoid of China and HK nominees

Source: Variety (10/1/19)
Golden Horse Awards Almost Completely Devoid of China and Hong Kong Nominees

Detention scores 12 nominations at Golden Horse Awards. CREDIT: COURTESY OF 1 PRODUCTION FILM CO.

Films from mainland China are completely absent from the list of nominees announced Tuesday for the annual Golden Horse Awards. And with only a handful of titles from Hong Kong on the list, the competition has devolved into a mostly Taiwanese affair.The awards, based in Taiwan and chaired by Oscar-winner Ang Lee, have traditionally been considered the most prestigious prizes for films in the Chinese language. But a political spat at last year’s ceremony, where a Taiwanese award-winner infuriated mainland Chinese attendees and the Beijing regime by giving a speech in favor of Taiwanese independence, sparked a pullout by mainland films from this year’s contest. China considers self-governing, democratic Taiwan as part of its rightful territory, to be retaken by force if necessary. Continue reading

Why Taiwan is unfinished business for Xi Jinping

Source: Financial Times
China: Why Taiwan is unfinished business for Xi Jinping
As Beijing gears up for the 70th anniversary of Communist party rule, its greatest unresolved legacy has resurfaced
By Lucy Hornby in Beijing

Mao Tse-tung, leader of the Chinese Communist party on April 20, 1949 . (AP Photo)

Mao Zedong, leader of the Communist party of China on April 20, 1949, just months before it took control of the country © AP

In 1937, during the Chinese civil war, a communist agitator was captured by nationalist troops in southern Shanxi Province. Her father, an administrator working for a local warlord, negotiated her release after a few days of detention.

The fervent young communist was Qi Yun, whose nephew Xi Jinping is now the leader of China. The administrator was Mr Xi’s maternal grandfather Qi Houzhi, a man who fought on the opposite side of the civil war from Mr Xi’s more famous father, communist veteran Xi Zhongxun.

The complicated politics of Mr Xi’s family during the Chinese civil war of the 1930s and 1940s are especially relevant this year, as their heir celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Communist party rule over mainland China, while navigating a messy challenge to its authority. Continue reading

One country, two systems museum plan

Source: Taipei Times (5/30/19)
MAC slams ‘two systems’ museum plan
By Chung Li-hua and Sherry Hsiao
United Front Tactics: The council urged Taiwanese not to participate in the reported project, saying that it highlighted the ‘absurdity’ of China’s manipulation

The preparatory committee for China’s “one country, two systems” museum that is to be established in Beijing meets in an undated photograph. Screen grab from the Internet

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said that a planned “one country, two systems” museum in Beijing would constitute “brainwashing.”

Hong Kong media have reported about the museum, which is to feature a Taiwan pavilion.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan (安峰山) told a routine news conference that while he was unfamiliar with the reported plans, the purpose of “one country, two systems” is to take care of Taiwan’s situation and protect the interests and welfare of Taiwanese. Continue reading

HK showed China is a threat to democracy

Source: The Guardian (7/16/19)
Hong Kong showed China is a threat to democracy. Now Europe must defend Taiwan
By Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Beijing is bullying another democratic neighbour. The EU must stop ignoring authoritarianism for the sake of stability and cash

China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning

China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. China ‘has stepped up its aerial missions violating Taiwanese airspace, sailing warships near or in Taiwanese waters’. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s administration has backed down over the controversial extradition bill, but the canary in the coalmine of China’s tacit acceptance of democracy is already dead.

Under China’s “one country, two systems” model, Hong Kong was given the guarantee that the freedoms of its citizens would be preserved and respected. Meanwhile, for a long time in the west, the consensus was that, as its economy grew, China would start to look more like Hong Kong. Regrettably, in recent years the opposite has happened and Hong Kong looks more like China by the year. Perhaps we were naive to believe that this erosion of Hong Kong’s democracy was not inevitable. Beijing makes no secret of its view that democracy and Chinese civilisation are incompatible. The protesters in the streets of Hong Kong would beg to differ, and I hope they succeed through peaceful means. Continue reading