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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bicycle Diplomacy: Taiwan Sends Bikes To Ghana

Taiwan is often criticized for its reputation of using "dollar diplomacy" to win friends and influence people. This practice of pouring millions of Taiwanese taxpayer dollars into parts of the world that have been disrupted by the effects of colonialism in exchange for official diplomatic relationships with the ROC (oddly... representing China) was widely promoted by Taichung's current mayor, Jason Hu, during his tenure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The practice of flooding "allies" with cash and infrastructure projects (that can easily be skimmed by the powerful and connected), has recently been matched by China and has led to more civil strife as local clans and political factions maneuver to enjoy the spoils.

As an alternative to simply throwing money at potential allies, Taiwan could make a lasting impact by using softer methods to assist other countries and forge lasting ties. The use of NGOs may be one way Taiwan can promote itself around the world without getting caught in Chiang Kai-sheck's Cold War battle for China.

The One Village Foundation (OVF) has recently received its first shipment of 102 bicycles as part of the Taiwan Bike Bike Ghana (TBBG) project.

Giant Bikes Taiwan, in cooperation with National Tsing-hua University (NTHU) have been gathering used bicycles and equipment to better promote "Economy, Ecology, and Education".

From the OVF Website:

The TBBG project is designed and will be executed under the Health, Ecology, and Economy pillars of the OVI, to achieve amongst others, the following:

  • Encourage a culture of biking in Ghana as a means of healthy living in OVF’s operational areas (Winneba, Cape Coast and Jukwa);
  • Set up a bike rental station in Cape Coast to be managed by the Unity Drum [for clarification purposes: is it UnityDrum or Unity Drum?] Cultural Group (OVF Social enterprise Incubation Program), to create employment for some unemployed members and create a income stream to fund the group’s operations;
  • Reduce manual labour by beneficiaries, such as farmers and cultural group, by fixing a Extracycle [is this a trailer? please explain what Extracycle is] on the bikes for these groups. The Extra cycle can extend the capacity of load haulage to 150 kilograms;
  • Reduce Carbon dioxide emissions and help beneficiaries to make savings on transportation.

The goal of this initial effort is to build long term partnerships and foster positive relations between Taiwan and other countries. Perhaps this program can be emulated elsewhere without having to become the world's John paying for misguided love.

Returning To Seattle: Oct 12-25

The Emerald City

On Tuesday I will be returning to Seattle for two weeks due to an urgent family matter. I will specifically be in Seattle from October 12 to October 25.

I would like to apologize to my regular readers for any disruption this may cause in my ability to provide regular content, follow-up posts, or additional commentary. I would also like to apologize to those of you I have been hoping to ride with during this period.

This disruption will be temporary and I will resume regular posting as soon as I can.

I have also found that in the face of tragedy, the solitary comfort and simple joy of riding a bicycle has brought me some welcome comfort over the past several days. I will likely be looking for a few kilometers of Seattle riding to help ease my mind over the coming weeks.

Again, I am sorry for any disruption this may cause and feel free to send me your Taiwan ride reports.

My family needs me right now... and I will gladly be there.