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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Taiwan In Cycles "Knows The Price of Everything and The Value of Nothing"

Apparently, the Chinese cyclist who violated the terms of his visa (who hasn't been guilty of that at some time or another in Taiwan?), has generated quite a buzz with his ride report that primarily focused on the differences between Chinese and Taiwanese service culture. His blog has had over 2 million hits since his return.

The 26yo. web designer entered Taiwan on a 12 day business visa, but managed to circumvent the country on his bike.

On a beach at the Kenting Park at the southern tip of Taiwan, Liu saw no trespassers at all after a "No Entry" sign was erected at a dangerous spot. It would be an entirely different scene in China, he commented.

On the eve of the Oct. 10 National Day of the Republic of China in Taiwan, Liu witnessed the change of guards at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei from only an arm's length like all other surrounding people, a scene that also said would be unfathomable would be impossible on the mainland.

He noted that even in the generally pro-taiwan independence south, people are friendly and hospitable. Tainan is a power base of Taiwan's opposition "green camp" where Vice Chairman Zhang Minqing the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) was once pushed onto the ground by some anti-China protesters when visiting the Confucius Temple honoring the Chinese sage. Nevertheless, Liu still pointed out that he had to admit about a little difference in the atmosphere from other major cities in Taiwan. He said it could have arisen from certain psychological reason.

What I find really interesting about this report is in the subtle ways the perception of a "shared Chinese culture" falls by the wayside when it comes into contact with the result of independent structural and experiential and social change.

In Other News:

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) takes great pride in helping to facilitate the Singaporean Concern & Care Society on a humanitarian mission to deliver 10,000 Christmas cards by bicycle.

The stated mission is to, "spread Singaporeans' concern to their Taiwanese friends caught in times of difficulties and to encourage the victims to bravely face the challenges in life."

The 25 day bicycle mission, which officially started on November 17, is expressly focused on the victims of typhoons Megi and Fanapi, which both ravaged the Philippines with some lesser damage to Taiwan. I kind of feel this effort is misplaced as there are other places in more dire need of these human resources, organization and financial support.

From this observer's standpoint it appears these are two groups trying to subvert the goals of the other to proselytize for their respective faiths.

The Singaporeans seem to be using the type of coded language associated with missionary work, and MOFA seems to be a) trying to increase ties between fellow, "Chinese" compatriots with the aim of extending the political reach of a "greater China" rooted in imagined blood relations; and b) hoping to stimulate growth in bicycle tourism, which can serve several simultaneous goals.

That is what I was guessing, so I made sure to check the information provided by the Concern and Care Society.

To serve fellow human beings with the Christian spirit of love, humility and sacrifice, through the provision of direct services to needy families and individuals, especially the elderly, and the promotion of good family and personal values, working with Christians, other Christian organizations, and other individuals and organizations who share our values, as much as possible to maximize the impact of our endeavours.

Hmmmmm! Or maybe I am just being a cynic.

1 comment:

  1. I read it very carefully and was quite amazed by the subtext. It brings a whole new meaning to the "Knowing China through Taiwan" slogan on the header of the Want China Times.