Taiwan Archive

  • Letting Off Steam (DestinAsian Magazine)

    Letting Off Steam (DestinAsian Magazine)

    The following feature on Beitou District, my home for most of the past 13 years, appeared in the October issue of DestinAsian magazine. It’s not available online, so I’ve embedded the pdf.

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  • A little bird in the hand

    A little bird in the hand

    Folk taxonomy in Taiwan is marked by genericism. Rodents of all shapes and sizes are mice; the most diminutive of raptors ascends to the rank of eagle; and, bound by their spots, leopards are branded cheetahs (“hunting leopards”). One such catch-all that has perennially confused me is xiao niao – literally ‘little bird’. In my […]

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  • The throat singer of Zhuzihu

    The throat singer of Zhuzihu

    Though the blooms will be around for some time yet, this weekend is the official end of the Calla Lily festival up in the Zhuzihu (竹子湖) area of Yangmingshan (陽明山). Although I’ve lived in Beitou District (北投區) for over a decade and ridden and hiked around Yangmingshan countless times, there are still quite a few […]

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  • Jammeh revelations are a reminder about need for transparency in Taiwan’s aid

    Jammeh revelations are a reminder about need for transparency in Taiwan’s aid

    The following op-ed appeared in today’s Taipei Times. Months after assuming the presidency of the Gambia in 1996, Yahya Jammeh made a bold foreign policy maneuver, cutting ties with China in favor of Taiwan. No observer of Taiwan’s diplomacy under then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) would have been laboring under any misapprehension as to the motives […]

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  • 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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  • 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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  • Small Town Taiwan to Big Screen Hollywood: Xiluo Theater and the Lin Family Odyssey

    Small Town Taiwan to Big Screen Hollywood: Xiluo Theater and the Lin Family Odyssey

    The following piece appeared in today’s News Lens:  By Taiwanese standards, the small town of Xiluo (西螺) in Yunlin County (雲林縣) is brimful of attractions. Bestriding the Zhuoshui River (濁水溪), Taiwan’s longest waterway, there’s the Xiluo Bridge, which was second only to the Golden Gate Bridge in length when completed in 1953. Then there’s the […]

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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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