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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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  • 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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  • Ominous signs ahead of Tsai’s Central America tour

    Ominous signs ahead of Tsai’s Central America tour

    Original version of my op-ed in today’s Taipei Times:  Hours after Sao Tome and Principe severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan on December 21, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou (侯清山) addressed lawmakers concerns of further defections to Beijing. Speaking to the Foreign and National Defense Committee, Hou admitted that officials were on alert with [...]

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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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  • All eyes return to Gambia

    All eyes return to Gambia

    On Dec.2, a day after Gambia achieved its first democratic transition of power since it gained independence in 1965, China’s President Xi Jinping (習近平) sent his congratulations. Noting the peaceful nature of the proceedings, Xi pledged to maintain strong bilateral ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Adama Barrow. It has now been a couple of [...]

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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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  • The Ugly Side of Taiwan’s Olympics

    The Ugly Side of Taiwan’s Olympics

    This is the original of my op-ed piece from today’s Taipei Times. I’ve also added stuff that I would have included but, based on experience, guessed wouldn’t make the cut for style and length reasons: Taiwan was overjoyed by weightlifter Hsu Shu-ching’s (許淑淨) gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last Monday. [...]

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