Skip to main content

Posts

Man Set Himself on Fire in Front of Taiwan's Presidential Office Building

On May 19 at 16:43 Taipei time a 50-year-old man surnamed Chen set himself on fire in front of Taiwan 's Presidential Office Building .  According to local reports, the man was walking on Chongqing South Road  when he suddenly took out a knife. He was promptly reprimanded by a policeman on guard in front of the presidential office. Subsequently the man proceeded southwards in the direction of Ketagalan Boulevard. Then he stopped, took a lighter and set himself on fire. Reports suggest that he had poured petrol over his body beforehand. The police found an oil drum inside Jieshou Park opposite the presidential palace. 

China Opposes Japan's Bid to Add Meiji Industrial Sites to UNESCO World Heritage

Hashima is an islet of 6.3 hectares lying off the coast of Nagasaki prefecture. From afar, its buildings and high walls, designed to protect it from typhoons, make it look like a fortress, or rather like a battleship, hence its Japanese nickname 'Gunkanjima' (軍艦島), or 'Battleship Island'. During the Meiji Era  (1868-1912) Hashima played an important role in Japan's rapid industrialisation . Coal, the fuel of the first industrial revolution, was abundant in the region. In 1890 Hashima was bought by Mitsubishi , which set up coal-mining facilities. The company transformed the islet into a major industrial site and a pioneering residential area, a model for Japan's industrial and urban development. Mitsubishi sank vertical shafts of about 200 metres, erected massive walls and carried out land reclamation projects in order to obtain new land for the construction of factories. Due to the demand for labour, workers began to flock to Hashima. The population g

The Guomindang and the Victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the Eyes of K.M. Panikkar

In his book " In Two Chinas: Memoirs of a Diplomat ", Kavalam Madhava Panikkar (1895 – 1963), an Indian intellectual, journalist, historian and ambassador, born in the Kingdom of Travancore, then part of the British Indian Empire, recounted his impressions of the transition between the Guomindang -led Republic of China (ROC) and the newly founded People's Republic of China (PRC).  Shortly after India had obtained its independence from Britain, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed Panikkar as India's first ambassador to China (then ROC). During the following two years, Panikkar would experience the chaos and turmoil of the Chinese Civil War , which ended with the complete collapse of the Guomindang regime and its retreat to Taiwan. Panikkar remained in China until 1953.  *** What was my general impression of New China? I had spent over two years in Peking in close contact with the leaders of the Central People's Government. I had also lived

Life as a Westerner in Taiwan and Hong Kong

When I came to Hong Kong for the first time back in 2012 I had already lived in Taipei for about half a year. One of the first things that struck me was that people in Hong Kong seemed to have a different attitude towards foreigners than Taiwanese (generally speaking, of course). Even in Taipei, the largest and most international city of the island-state, I always felt as if I were an exotic creature. People talked to me because they were 'curious', or because they wanted to practice their English, or because they regarded me as a guest that they should treat with a politeness reserved for people from faraway lands.   In Hong Kong, on the contrary, most people seemed to be indifferent to me. They didn't look at me when I took the metro, when I went to public toilets, libraries or restaurants, as it was the case in Taiwan. Obviously, I wasn't a local either in Taiwan or Hong Kong. But in the latter I felt more comfortable. I did not stand out. I was not perceived

China Deported American Teacher Because She Wrote SMS Critical of the Government’s Tibet Policies

L. is a US citizen in her early thirties. In January 2015 she moved to China to work as an English teacher in a public high school in Shenzhen. Her life in China was good. She had already lived in foreign countries such as Russia and South Korea, so she had learnt to adjust herself to new cultures and customs. She liked her new job and her flat. She loved her students. But it all came to an abrupt end after she decided to travel to Tibet. Tibet Autonomous Region is unlike any other part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Foreign nationals cannot go there with a simple Chinese visa. They must organise their trip via an authorised tour operator and travel with a tourist group. The agency applies for a Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB). The application must include a route plan of the areas of Tibet one wishes to visit. However, foreign travellers enjoy freedom of movement only within Lhasa city. If you want to leave Lhasa you need anot

Hong Kong Police Told To Enforce "More Strictly" Public Order Ordinance Prohibiting "Unlawful Assembly"

As the 'South China Morning Post' reported today, the Hong Kong police will enforce laws governing public order "more strictly" and prevent gatherings of more than 3 people if they are deemed suspicious by police officers. "If officers deem a gathering likely to cause any breach of the peace or threat to public safety, we would not allow the participants to proceed," a source was quoted as saying. "We would demand that they produce identification and disperse, and follow them around if they did not leave. Anyone who refuses to comply can be arrested for obstructing police." The relevant laws prohibiting public gatherings are not a result of Hong Kong's 'mainlandisation', but date back to the British colonial era. In 1967 pro-Communist riots broke out in Hong Kong, and the British colonial government enacted the Public Order Ordinance , which controlled public meetings, processions, and assemblies (see: Wong Yiu-chung / Brian

"Are You Crazy?" Says Ma Ying-jeou to Scholar Who Asked If Taiwan Will Renounce South China Sea Claims

At a meeting of the Fullbright Taiwan Foundation for Scholarly Exchange  Ma Ying-jeou , the incumbent president of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), was asked by a scholar whether the ROC will renounce its claims to the South China Sea. Earlier in March the former vice-secretary of the National Security Council of the ROC, Zhang Xucheng (張旭成), and the former deputy minister of National Defence, Ke Chengheng (柯承亨), had said in an interview that the ROC might  renounce its claims to the South China Sea . They stated that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the current main opposition party, is "considering a proposal to give up Taiwan's sovereignty claims over the South China Sea as defined by the U-shaped line". Ma Ying-jeou seemed surprised by the scholar's question and replied: "Are you crazy? Of course we won't!" As leader of the Guomindang (Chinese Nationalist Party), Ma Ying-jeou officially maintains that the Republic of China is the leg

Don't Anger Your Taiwanese Wife or ... Face the Consequences!

Are Taiwanese women submissive and passive, innocent and cute , as some people suggest? The following story, although extreme, seems to prove the opposite. As Apple Daily reported, on Chinese New Year a man surnamed Liu went with his wife to visit her family in the southern part of Taiwan. On February 21st, while the couple were returning to their home in Taichung, they had a quarrel. The man decided to stop at a service station in Gukeng, a township in Yunlin County, to try to ease up the atmosphere a bit. But his wife was so furious that she took his money, wallet and phone, and just left. "Find a way to go back home, if you can!" she reportedly said as she drove off the service station, leaving her dumbfounded husband alone and penniless. Without his money and mobile phone, Mr Liu could neither pay for a taxi nor call friends or relatives to help him. Nevertheless, he asked the staff of the service station to call him a cab. He explained to the driver what ha

Premier Li Keqiang Says People in Taiwan and China are 'one big family'

On March 15 Li Keqiang , the Premier of the People's Republic of China, met with Chinese and foreign journalists and answered questions. The press conference was held at the Great Hall of the People by the Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress.  A journalist from Taiwan's TVBS asked Li about cross-strait relations and the business opportunities of Taiwanese people working in mainland China. Li Keqiang replied: People on both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one big family. As long as we continue to adhere to the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus , oppose Taiwan independence and uphold peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, we will be able to lay a more solid foundation for cross-Straits business cooperation and expand the room for such business ties. To boost the economic cooperation between the two sides, we need to get both wheels in motion. One wheel is to enhance institution building. For example, the follow-up consult

Chiang Kai-shek's Beheading and Ke Wenzhe's Tears

During an emotional speech commemorating the victims of the  228 Incident , the current mayor of Taipei, Ke Wenzhe ( Ko Wen-je ), could not hold back his tears as he recounted the suffering that his own family had to bear during the brutal and indiscriminate repression of real or presumed dissent on the part of Guomindang one-party state. Following the revolt of February 28, 1947, Ke’s grandfather, Ke Shiyuan, was arrested, not because he had been personally involved in the uprising, but solely because he was an intellectual. After he was severely beaten by the Guomindang police he became ill and died a few years later. Thousands of people were killed, imprisoned or tortured during the White Terror that followed the 228 Incident. To a certain extent, February 28 1947 was for Taiwan what June 4 1989 was for the PRC. The state revealed its savage and cruel nature, reasserted its authority by force, and ushered in an era of silence, fear and suspicion, during which the memory and t

Love or Madness? Dutch National Goes to Taiwan to Meet His Girlfriend's Parents but Gets Banned for 10 Years

Is it love or is it madness? Perhaps it's just a bit of both.  On February 20, a 23-year-old Dutch national arrived at Taoyuan International Airport with his pregnant Taiwanese girlfriend . The couple were not married and had apparently come to Taiwan so that he could meet the girl's parents. But things did not go too well for them.  During a previous sojourn in Taiwan  the man had overstayed his visa and had been banned from entering the country for three years. When he arrived at the immigration inspection, he was informed that he could not leave the airport and had to be repatriated. His girlfriend, however, had already passed the passport control. While awaiting repatriation at the airport the man kept talking on the phone with his girlfriend and cried. Then he received a message: "I miss you." After reading these words he lost his mind. He jumped over the barrier of the immigration inspection and ran out of the airport. He walked for 3 kilometers

Taipei-Taoyuan Airport Express Is Finally Coming

When you see scenes like this you know why Taipei really needs an airport express. Last week I arrived at Taipei Bus Station (located right next to Taipei Main Station ) and there I saw this huge line of people waiting to board the bus to the airport. When the bus arrived there were so many passengers that I had no choice but to wait for the next one. Overall it took me about one hour and a half to get from the bus station to the airport.  Then I arrived in Hong Kong. I exchanged some money, bought something to drink, recharged my Octopus Card (the equivalent of Taipei's Easy Card) and took that amazing, super modern, spacious Airport Express that runs from Hong Kong International Airport to Central in just 25 minutes!  When I first came to Taiwan at the end of 2011, I was quite surprised that this island, known all over the world for its high-tech industry, had no direct MRT connection between the airport and Taipei Main Station. I bought a ticket, exited the airport an