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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

U.S. Receives Taiwanese Financial Assistance for Bicycles

Oh what a difference 50 years makes....

In the aftermath of WWII, the United States, under the Joint Commission of Rural Reconstruction (JCRR) funneled massive amounts of aid to Taiwan in an effort to repair the damage done by both allied bombs and Chinese Nationalist maladministration, as well as to shore up Taiwan's economy to defend against the stated threat of Communism. The annual $100 million infusion of U.S. cash provided capital for infrastructure projects, training and technical assistance. Much of this aid was in the form of grants dedicated to agricultural development. It was after much of the immediate post war period that the United States became one cultural center of Taiwan as Taiwanese compared themselves against U.S. values, modernity, and material wealth.

In 1965, amid shrieking protest from the dictator, Chiang Kai-sheck, the aid money stopped flowing just as Taiwan was slipping into a post agrarian economy. In embarrassingly simple terms; the unholy mix of Taiwan's state-run monopolies, KMT party corporations and especially the dynamism of the indigenous small to medium sized enterprises would spend the next 20 years forming the economic dynamo that would become one of Asia's most powerful economies in the 90's.

Now, Taiwan would like to do a little bit to return the favor.

Seeing America's conundrum of having built an economy and culture upon interstate and motor vehicle dependent transport, The Taiwan Bicycle Exporters Association (TBEA) has pledged an annual donation of $50,000 over the course of three years to the Bikes Belong Foundation, which seeks to:

"...increase bicycle use in America by adapting and implementing state-of-the art international best practices in infrastructure and urban design to make bicycling safer, more comfortable and more appealing."

The TBEA donation will be matched by SRAM, a Chicago based company with deep connections to Taiwan's engineering and development talent.

"With the help of the TBEA and the additional support from the SRAM Cycling Foundation, we will be able to show many more individuals, legislators, engineers, and business developers the role that bicycling can and will play in our future through the Best Practices Project," said Tim Blumenthal, president of Bikes Belong. "We're honored to have the support of the TBEA. It is another example of how the industry is coming together to get more people on bikes more often. "

It is always nice to see Taiwanese unselfishly reaching out to help the unfortunate.

Also: Check out the conspicuously flag-waving Taiwanese Trans-American Tourist. I don't get all these recent stories that fixate on the ROC flag. It smells like the GIO.

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