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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Free Tibet Protesters Use Bicycles To Petition Taipei

The Taipei Times reports on the bicycle protest in Taipei by Taiwanese and Tibetan protesters to demand greater attention from Taiwan's central government, which has increasingly strayed from its traditional support for the Tibetan movement and for the basic human rights of religious and ethnic minorities in China.

For decades, as part of the ROC's rivalry with China's Communist government, officials in Taiwan have taken a traditionally activist role in welcoming Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners as part of a greater propaganda message that the ROC is somehow a more tolerant and less authoritarian natured beast than the CCP.

Sadly, that veneer of difference appears to be wearing thin as the governments in Beijing and Taipei edge closer to political negotiations.

Over the past four years observers have seen an erosion of the ROC propaganda mainstays of freedom, democracy and providing a safe haven for those groups persecuted in China.

Two years ago, Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer had her Taiwan visa application rejected. There have been other breaks in the rank and file as well, as military and civilian leaders with sympathies toward China have provided the PRC with useful intelligence on not just defense issues, but also on pro-democracy, Tibetan and Falun Gong groups. What might seem most puzzling is the lack of urgency the current administration displays to deal with this problem.

The fact of the matter is that the two political parties involved in these negotiations are both cut from the same Chinese nationalist cloth with a long history of Leninist structure and strong, centralized government with the preeminent goal of seeking ethnic, cultural and political uniformity to hold the disparate peoples of a former empire together under the flag of a single nation. There is no room for Tibetan, Uighur or Taiwanese independence under Chinese nationalism, so it is not surprising to see the KMT in Taiwan back away from its earlier promises to help these minorities in their struggle against an authoritarian China, when the KMT is hoping to eke out a place at the front of the bus in the Chinese nationalist dream. The rest of China's persecuted peoples are finding they are running out of roadway.

Made In Taiwan Pedals The Cross Island Highway: Ride Report

Jonathan B. writes a wonderful ride report on his trip across Taiwan by bike.

Here's a little excerpt below: You can read the entire report HERE.
The opening climb dispatched (and insults swatted away), we again reached Renai and the start of the climb proper. Keeping a decent cadence, we passed increasingly unlikely hotels and resorts, themed to resemble Swiss chalets, German villages, and imagined English mountain-top castles. The GPS chirping less frequently than I would have liked, we slowly winched our way up the hill, stopping at the 7-11s that we passed to keep the fluids topped up and energy maintained. There were plenty of other cyclists on the road – many that we bumped into multiple times on the climb – but we were humbled when we chatted to two guys on folding bikes (sporting speakers and huge luggage panniers) that said they woke at 2am to ride up from Taichung to the peak in one day. Respect.

Check Michael Turton's report from his soggy weekend of riding in Kenting.