Taiwan Archive

  • 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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  • Taiwan’s Guatemala ties remain complicated

    Taiwan’s Guatemala ties remain complicated

    Original version of my piece from today’s Taipei Times: The reliefs on the facade of Guatemala’s National Library were contributed by one of the country’s most beloved sons. Yet even the talents of urbanist Efrain Recinos cannot put a gloss on the building’s threadbare interior. A bronze bust of an equally storied Guatemalan, Miguel Angel […]

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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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  • Forgotten hero: Remembering Sun Li-jen

    Forgotten hero: Remembering Sun Li-jen

    Dean Rusk read the secret missive with surprise, then burned it. The Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs felt certain the content of the note would get its author killed if discovered. It was early June 1950, and the Korean War in which Rusk was to play a crucial role, was just weeks […]

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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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  • On the Cards: Taiwan’s Dating App Scam of Choice

    On the Cards: Taiwan’s Dating App Scam of Choice

    “I’m waiting for you, handsome guy,” Little Mi Mi messages. “Don’t you want me? Hurry up! Give me your phone number.” This latest in a string of formulaic missives comes through as I loiter on a dank street corner, poorly wired neon signs fizzling overhead like cicadas drowning in bucket of soda. It’s spitting and […]

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  • Unlucky 13: A Ghost Month to Remember

    Unlucky 13: A Ghost Month to Remember

    “That’s where we found him,” says Mr. Hou. For the last few seconds, his concentration has been wavering as we chat, his eyes flitting back and forth from me to a spot on the kitchen floor over my shoulder. I don’t ask him what’s up – my eyes do . “I tried to save him.” […]

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  • God of Carnage: timely and provocative theatre at The Lab Space

    God of Carnage: timely and provocative theatre at The Lab Space

      The announcement of an 18-year sentence for Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba two weeks ago for complicity in mass rape in the Central African Republic hung thick in the air as I took in Butterfly Effect’s production of Yazmin Reza’s God of Carnage at the The Lab Space in Beitou last weekend. Even for those […]

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  • Global Asia Feature: Looking Back, Moving Forward: Foreign Policy Challenges for Taiwan’s New Leader

    Global Asia Feature: Looking Back, Moving Forward: Foreign Policy Challenges for Taiwan’s New Leader

    My piece in the summer issue of Global Asia. (The line calling Chiang Kai-shek the “KMT founder” is not mine. It stayed in despite me changing it after the piece was returned to me for a final proof).   Taiwan’s newly inaugurated president, Tsai Ing-wen, faces a conundrum when it comes to foreign policy. If she […]

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  • Of Hills and Swill

    Of Hills and Swill

      Last year I was the distinctly Un-Grand Old Baron of Beitou – just under halfway up the hill to Yangmingshan but feeling over halfway down the path of life. I was confined to a solitary-confinement-sized box on that hill, reeling from a broken marriage and drinking myself silly. A year later I’m in Danshui, […]

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