Politics and polemic Archive

  • Playing with Fire: Taiwan and India’s Long Courtship

    Playing with Fire: Taiwan and India’s Long Courtship

    The following piece appeared in the Fall 2017 (Vol.12, No.3) issue of Global Asia: The visit to India by a group of Taiwanese parliamentarians in February drew predictable guard-dog growls from Beijing. Any country foolhardy enough to flout the sacrosanct one-China policy can expect a swift rebuke. But, for a powerful neighbor and competitor with […]

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  • Working the fields: Wooster Group’s performance invites parallels with Taiwan’s indigenous folk music

    Working the fields: Wooster Group’s performance invites parallels with Taiwan’s indigenous folk music

    The following piece appeared in the features section of today’s Taipei Times:  Taiwan owes Kurosawa Takatomo. Without his efforts, much of Taiwan’s indigenous music would be lost. In 1943, while Aborigine soldiers were packed off to fight Japan’s war in the Pacific as part of the Takasago Volunteers (高砂義勇隊) squadrons, Kurosawa was recording the songs […]

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  • Taiwan’s Female Athletes Still Fighting Institutionalized Sexism

    Taiwan’s Female Athletes Still Fighting Institutionalized Sexism

    Anyone who kept half an eye on local media coverage of the 2017 Taipei Summer Universiade that closed on Aug. 31 will likely have noticed the sometimes cringe-worthy manner in which Taiwan’s female athletes were “feted” for their achievements. It didn’t take long for this brand of patronizing sexism to rear its head at the […]

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  • Our man in Panama

    Our man in Panama

    Below is the original version of my op-ed in today’s Taipei Times. I had a feeling they’d chop the paragraph about the corruption during the Chen years, and what do you know? They also made a complete pig’s ear of the headline.   As General Manuel Noriega’s fortunes fluctuated with the whims of the U.S. […]

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  • Changes to Nationality Law irk Taiwan’s foreign-born residents

    Changes to Nationality Law irk Taiwan’s foreign-born residents

    My article from today’s News Lens (27/03/2017). An old friend and mentor of mine still likes to say that I quit a journalism degree 20 years ago because I didn’t like talking to people on the phone. Like the work of our mutual hero, Ryszard Kapuściński, this claim lurks in an anteroom between reality and fiction: […]

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  • Colonialism can never be justified

    Colonialism can never be justified

    Below is my piece from today’s News Lens ( 23 March, 2017): As European colonial and imperial exploits reached their apogee in the late 19th century, moral philosophers such a John Stuart Mill were faced with a quandary: how to justify the colonial project? In fact, it doesn’t seem to have been too much of […]

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  • Li Kuo-Ting: The adaptable strategist behind Taiwan’s success

    Li Kuo-Ting: The adaptable strategist behind Taiwan’s success

    “Li Kuo-ting’s name,” wrote Hong Kong economist Tony Fu-Lai Yu (余赴禮), “is well-known in Taiwan.” If this were true when Yu penned the words 10 years ago, it certainly isn’t now. Granted, as Yu points out, Li’s name (李國鼎) is enshrined in a foundation that funds scientific endeavor in Taiwan and promotes cross-Strait cooperation in science. An […]

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  • Dark shadows and new hope: Taiwan and El Salvador

    Dark shadows and new hope: Taiwan and El Salvador

    The single shot from a rifle that hit Archbishop Oscar Romero straight in the heart as he was saying mass at San Salvador’s Church of the Divine Providence on the evening of March 24, 1980, was to send shockwaves through El Salvador and the world. Even in a country where murder had become a way […]

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  • Taipei’s Little Burma and the legacy of the KMT ‘jungle generals’

    Taipei’s Little Burma and the legacy of the KMT ‘jungle generals’

    The distinctive red and yellow paving of Huaxin Street has been uprooted since my last visit. It’s one of those head-scratchers that define local government decision-making in Taiwan. “Why would they do that?” asks my younger son. Why, indeed? The design gave the road a pedestrian-friendly feel, a refreshing contrast with the rest of New […]

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  • How do Taiwanese Americans feel about Donald Trump now? (SCMP piece)

    How do Taiwanese Americans feel about Donald Trump now? (SCMP piece)

      The Surmaitis family’s dog has become a pawn in a genuinely civil war. “She’s Trumpy Dog,” insists Judy, the matriarch. “Mom, she’s depressed when she’s Trumpy Dog,” her daughter Alison Chan replies. “She’s a Cubs’ fan, which means she’s Obama Dog.” Why not “Hilldog”, à la South Park?   [Read the full South China Morning […]

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