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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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  • Ghosts of the Stronato: Asunción’s Taiwanese expats a dying breed

    Ghosts of the Stronato: Asunción’s Taiwanese expats a dying breed

    There aren’t many options if you’re bookless in Asunción, but the dusty old store halfway up Silvio Pettirossi is a real treat. Among Spanish translations of Jules Roy and propaganda materials featuring images of the late dictator General Alfredo Stroessner, I find a small blue pamphlet. Published by the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) – now […]

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  • Odd couple: Fuxing’s flak towers provide blast from Taiwan’s past

    Odd couple: Fuxing’s flak towers provide blast from Taiwan’s past

    Among the paddy fields of Fanpo Village (番婆村) in Fuxing Township (福興鄉), Changhua County (彰化縣), lurks a strange building. At first glance, it’s hard to know exactly what this bell-shaped concrete tower could be. Given its location, those who happen upon it might take it for an old granary or storehouse. A corrugated iron hut […]

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  • Let’s get physical: Actor Derek Kwan on the art of mask and clowning

    Let’s get physical: Actor Derek Kwan on the art of mask and clowning

      Derek Kwan (關顯揚)  is a clown. Not in the pejorative sense, and certainly not one of those clowns that have been all over social media recently, scaring the shit out of people. “It’s unfortunate because real clown is about innocence. Essentially it’s your 5-year-old self, which is the best of you. People don’t actually […]

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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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