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
By PATRICK FRATER

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

Footbinding as Fashion review

Source: Taipei Times (6/27/19)
BOOK REVIEW: Bound for better things?
With Taiwan as the centerpiece, John Robert Shepherd builds an exhaustive argument about the endurance of foot-binding in China and Taiwan despite official attempts to curb the practice
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Footbinding as Fashion: Ethnicity, Labor, and Status in Traditional China, By John Robert Shepherd (University of Washington Press, 2018)

While Footbinding As Fashion looks at the practice in “traditional China,” much of this book is about Taiwan. The nation’s Hoklo majority brought the custom with them when they emigrated en masse across the Taiwan Strait, keeping the majority of their women’s feet tiny and their gait hobbled for centuries until the Japanese colonizers arrived and stamped out the practice.

But most importantly, it was the Japanese who produced the “only systematic accounting of the practice of footbinding that was ever produced” through the 1905 and 1915 censuses of Taiwan, where the author could cross-reference rich data sets that included languages spoken, Chinese province of origin (or Aboriginal), livelihood and whether they were “ever-bound” (currently bound or once bound and released) or “never-bound.”

As a result, researchers can obtain details as specific as the percentage of Hoklo-speaking Taiwanese with ancestry from Fujian Province between the ages of 21 and 30 who at some point stopped binding their feet. The dates are also crucial because the Japanese intensified their efforts in eradicating footbinding in the 1910s until they outright banned it in 1915.

The Japanese made such detailed records not only to keep tabs on the population and prove themselves as “model” colonizers to the international world, but also because they sought to eradicate the “three degenerate practices” among local people: footbinding, queue wearing and opium smoking. The data reveals that footbinding was almost exclusively a Hoklo practice, accounting for 99.6 percent of “ever-bound” women in Taiwan. Continue reading

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>