Politics and polemic Archive

  • China’s new ‘softy power’ could spell trouble for Taiwan

    China’s new ‘softy power’ could spell trouble for Taiwan

    A series of ridiculous incidents picked out by Taipei-based Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson highlight a disturbing trend that has emerged over the last few weeks. With a couple of Hong Kong security guards becoming the latest to put Neymar to shame with their theatrics, Olsson observed on Facebook that falling to the ground and/or (literally) […]

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  • The Cog that Slipped: Chiang Ching-kuo’s Russian Odyssey

    The Cog that Slipped: Chiang Ching-kuo’s Russian Odyssey

    This is the original text of a piece that The Diplomat ran as the lead article in the October issue of their magazine. Although the editor was nice enough to give me this slot as it gave me more space, I still had to hack away mercilessly to the get things down to just under […]

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  • Ghosts of Volkhonka: Chiang, Deng and the Sunovka Years

    Ghosts of Volkhonka: Chiang, Deng and the Sunovka Years

    The following is the original text of a piece that appeared in the travel section of the South China Morning Post’s Post Magazine. Props to the editor there for doing a sterling job with the butchery: though it gets somewhat easier as times goes on, seeing one’s offspring de-limbed continues to be a chastening experience. […]

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  • Time for Taiwan to make the personal touch count in its foreign aid

    Time for Taiwan to make the personal touch count in its foreign aid

    The following piece appeared in today’s Taipei Times: (NB: The original headline was not mine and is quite misleading. I’ve reverted to my original here. The text is exactly as it appeared in the paper.) Few publications have documented Taiwan’s official development assistance (ODA) efforts in such a personal way as the booklet Greening the […]

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  • End of the Road: Will Taiwan Pick Up Britain’s Tab in Guatemala?

    End of the Road: Will Taiwan Pick Up Britain’s Tab in Guatemala?

    “Officially, the British are unpopular in Guatemala,” wrote Nicholas Wollaston, while traveling in the Central American country in 1961. “For Britain occupies the whole of Belice Province by force, and calls it British Honduras. There are three empty seats in the Guatemala assembly with blue and white ribbons and marked ‘Belice’ [sic], and every map […]

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  • Tone deaf: Taiwan’s mobile phone providers continue to confound

    Tone deaf: Taiwan’s mobile phone providers continue to confound

    There’s nothing like a good old fashioned whinge to see in the New Year, and this New Year has provided me with one nice and early. This week, No. 2 son’s time came. He’s been incredibly helpful around the flat – doing chores when he hasn’t even been asked, trying his best in a school […]

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  • Huang’s uneasy time in the spotlight

    Huang’s uneasy time in the spotlight

    My op-ed from Taipei Times, Sunday 26 November:  Foreign policy was always going to be tricky for President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration. It was one of the few areas that her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), could hail as a success when he left power on single-digit approval ratings. Granted, Ma’s can be regarded as something […]

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  • 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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