Tsai Ing-wen re-elected

Source: NYT (1/11/20)
In Blow to Beijing, Taiwan Re-elects Tsai Ing-wen as President
The victory was a remarkable comeback for Ms. Tsai and suggested that Beijing’s pressure campaign had backfired.
By Steven Myers and Chris Horton

China’s efforts to isolate President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration and to punish Taiwan economically failed to deliver the desired outcome. Credit…Carl Court/Getty Images

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s voters delivered a stinging rebuke of China’s rising authoritarianism on Saturday by re-electing President Tsai Ing-wen, who vowed to preserve the island’s sovereignty in the face of Beijing’s intensifying efforts to bring it under its control.

Ms. Tsai’s victory highlighted how successfully her campaign had tapped into an electorate that is increasingly wary of China’s intentions. It also found momentum from months of protests in Hong Kong against Beijing’s encroachment on the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s freedoms.

For China’s ruling Communist Party, the outcome is a dramatic display of the power of Hong Kong’s antigovernment protest movement to influence attitudes toward the mainland in other regions the party deems critical to its interests.

China’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, has warned Taiwan that unification between the sides was inevitable. His party has sought to court Taiwanese with opportunities to work in the mainland while isolating Ms. Tsai’s administration and said that China would use force, if necessary, to prevent the island from taking steps toward formal independence. Continue reading

Taiwan Studies Revisited

Source: Taipei Time (1/9/20)
Book review: Authors assess their writing on Taiwan
‘Taiwan Studies Revisited’ provides a personal touch on Taiwan’s modern history and the country’s place in academia
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Studies Revisited, edited by Dafydd Fell and Hsin-huang Michael Hsiao. 238 pp. Routledge.

As writers, it’s often cringeworthy to read and review one’s old work, especially works that were written decades ago. As Davidson College political scientist Shelly Rigger writes in Taiwan Studies Revisited: “Rereading one’s own previous work is a painful process, at least for me. I focus on the mistakes, the erroneous predictions, the word choices that I never would have made had I not been exhausted and on a deadline.”

But fortunately for the readers, this exercise in asking authors to revisit their books provides an illuminating account of how international academics viewed Taiwan back then and whether things developed according to their predictions. Although still academic in nature, it’s a rare personal look at what Taiwan meant and still means to these experts.

While some chapters are drier than others, the information and ruminations are still invaluable to interested parties, although something contemplative and autobiographical like this could have been a chance for some of these academics to try their hand at livelier writing. An example of this would be the late Bruce Jacobs’ The Kaohsiung Incident in Taiwan and Memoirs of a Foreign Big Beard, which is informative and engaging at the same time. Continue reading

Taiwan studies and forging an identity

Source: Taiwan Today (1/1/2020)
Forging an Identity

A map of Taiwan and the Penghu archipelago printed in the early 18th century by a Dutch publisher (Photo courtesy of National Taiwan Library)

Taiwan is a country of increasing interest for academics from home and abroad.

In September 2018, hundreds of scholars gathered at Taipei City-based Academia Sinica, the country’s foremost research institution, for an event with a decidedly local flavor: the three-day World Congress of Taiwan Studies (WCTS). Among the keynote speakers was Huang Fu-san (黃富三), the founding director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History (ITH). “Having a conference dedicated to Taiwan as its own cross-disciplinary subject is a major achievement,” he said.

Last year’s event was the third edition of the triennial WCTS and the second at Academia Sinica, with the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the U.K. hosting the other in 2015. Bringing together experts from around the world covering fields spanning anthropology, art, gender studies, history, law, linguistics, literature, political science and sociology, WCTS is testament to the vitality of Taiwan studies. Continue reading

Taiwan’s tea party aims to burst one-China bubble

Source: Washington Post (12/15/19)
Taiwan’s tea party aims to burst Beijing’s one-China bubble
By Anna Fifield 

Customers wait at a CoCo bubble tea shop in Beijing on Aug. 9. The brand has faced a boycott in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where people share the same commitment to self-rule in China’s shadow. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Customers wait at a CoCo bubble tea shop in Beijing on Aug. 9. The brand has faced a boycott in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where people share the same commitment to self-rule in China’s shadow. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Call it the Taipei tea party. Or the new tea wars. For in Taiwan, the pearly is political.

To show their solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and their commitment to Taiwan’s self-rule, many consumers here are boycotting bubble tea chains that support the “one country, two systems” formula that China uses to rule Hong Kong and that it hopes one day to extend to Taiwan.

“I deliberately came here today because it’s an independent Taiwan store and it doesn’t support ‘one country, two systems,’ ” said Alex Shuie, who works in financial services, as he waited for his drink — known as bubble or boba or pearl tea — at the Ruguo stand in central Taipei. Continue reading

Inside the Solomon Islands switch

Source: The Guardian (12/7/19)
When China came calling: inside the Solomon Islands switch
The Pacific nation’s decision to sever ties with Taiwan reverberated around the world and has had far-reaching consequences inside the country
by  in Honiara

Children swim in the Nggela islands, part of the Solomon Islands, which in September made the decision to sever ties with Taiwan and recognise China. Photograph: Edward Cavanough/The Guardian

The market in Auki is a hive of activity. Fisherman offer fresh yellowfin tuna, mackerel and parrot fish, swatting away flies with banana leaves. Stalls are coloured by tropical fruits and the floral dresses of Solomon Islands women who have arrived from villages to sell their produce.

Some of the best produce found in the market, which is located in the capital of the island of Malaita in the Solomon Islands, comes from Adaliua Taiwanese Farm, situated three kilometres away. There, plump pawpaw and watermelon grow, surrounded by coconut palms. When the Guardian visits, one man uses his machete to slice a pineapple, using banana leaves as a plate to share the fruit.

But the future of the farm and the jobs it creates was thrown into doubt overnight in September when Manasseh Sogavare, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands announced Honiara would end its 36-year relationship with Taiwan, and officially recognise Beijing. Continue reading

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 < jmar3701tin2@gmail.com>

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