Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2014

What Does Hong Kong Have to Do with Taiwan's Sunflower Movement? Or, Why Anti-Chinese Sentiment Unites People

In the light of the recent protests by Taiwanese students and activists against a planned trade deal with China, I have found myself in the uncomfortable position of criticising the demonstrations and, in some respects, defending the KMT administration led by Ma Yingjiu. 
As I am not a citizen of the PRC or the ROC, I am not involved in party politics and I have no interest in changing the situation in these countries. I am a EU citizen, and that's the place where I want to be politically active. Therefore, when I talk about the politics of East Asia, I try to see things from different perspectives and not to side with one or the other party. Shortly, I am one of those who criticise or praise according to the concrete situation, and not out of ideological affiliation.
As I have said in my last post, I think that the widespread support the current protests have received by international media, the expat community, and a part of Taiwan's media, are not only excessive, but also som…

The Kuomintang and the Sunflower Movement - A Few Thoughts About the Legitimacy of the Anti-Trade Pact Protests

The recent student protests in Taiwan have become a highly debated topic on the island's as well as international media. The movement, which calls itself 'Sunflower Movement', was formed on March 19, when students occupied Taiwan's Legislative Yuan. The reason for this act of protest was a trade agreement with China which the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was pushing through parliament in a way that the opposition party DPP and a part of the population regarded as non-democratic (note 1, note 2).
While Taiwan's press was divided on whether the movement was legitimate or not, with the pro-KMT and the anti-KMT camps offering their own respective interpretation, Western media have universally celebrated the movement as a proof of Taiwan's democratic maturity.
As I have explained in my previous post, I am quite sceptical about the Sunflower Movement, mainly for three reasons:
1) the protesters are trying to delegitimise an elected - though unpopular - government thr…

Good Protesters and Bad Protesters: A Comparison Between Taiwan's Demonstrations and Europe's Anti-Austerity Movement

A few days after the beginning of Taiwan's protests against a planned trade agreement with mainland China, I am still struggling to admit to myself that I am not caught in the general euphoria. 
I am going to say something very unpopular, but I think the hype around these protests shows again how schizophrenic media coverage and popular perception can be.
First, I shall briefly summarise the events that led to this crisis. 
In June 2010,  Taiwan and mainland China signed the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a general agreement that strengthened economic cooperation between the two countries. The follow-up to this agreement was the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA), signed in June 2013 (note). This pact would open 80 sectors of China's service industry to Taiwanese investors and 64 sectors of the Taiwanese economy to China. Among these areas are finance, healthcare, transportation, and tourism (note). Given that the fortunes of many Taiwane…

How Conservative Is Taiwan? - 5 Cases of Sexuality in Business, Marketing and Media

Is Taiwan a conservative society? Are Taiwanese people prude, family-oriented, and faithful to their partner?
Before going to Taiwan, basing my opinion on what Taiwanese had told me, I would have answered all these questions with yes. But after living there for some time, I began questioning my assumptions. 
In many of my posts I have tried to explain some features of the Chinese/Taiwanese family which make it clear that every Western perspective on East Asia should take into consideration the different values and social structures that the Chinese-speaking world has developed over the centuries.
In this post, I would just like to mention a few interesting cases of liberal sexual conduct and the objectification of the female body, which challenge the image of Taiwan as a prude society. 
One day I was walking around the German city of Potsdam, near Berlin, with a Taiwanese. She often told me that Taiwanese people were conservative, Taiwanese girls naive and innocent. But on the other hand,…

Taipei First Girls' High School (臺北市立第一女子高級中學, former Confucius Temple)

This unprepossessing building, located at the crossroads of Guiyang Road and Chongqing South Road, may seem nothing special to the passer-by; and indeed, I have never seen anyone stop and take a closer look at it. But if you walk along Chongqing Road, you will see the following plaque, which reveals a history that takes us back to the roots of Qing Dynasty Taipei.



In fact, where now stands Taipei First Girls' High School, there used to be a building that was typical of imperial Chinese cities of that time: a Confucius temple. The fact that the school is inside Taipei's government district, close to the Presidential Office and opposite the Judicial Yuan, is in itself a proof of the outstanding importance that this site used to have.

The Confucius Temple (文廟) was the first of its kind in Taipei. It was built at around the same time as the city walls (completed in 1884) by the then prefectural magistrate Chen Xingju (陳星聚), using left-over construction materials (note). Close to the…