On Happiness Road

On Happiness Road 幸福路上 is an animated film following Chi, a Taiwanese woman born in 1975, as she grew up during Taiwan’s transition to a democracy, moved to the US, but returned to attend her grandmother’s funeral. A touching tear jerker highly relatable to Taiwanese in their 30s and 40s, the film manages to “condense four decades of Taiwanese politics, economics, traditional and pop culture as well as everyday life into 109 minutes without mucking up the narrative.” The story mirrors that of the film’s director, Sung Hsin-ying, who is making her debut through support of the Golden Horse Film Project, as well as countless others who grew up in Taiwan with grand aspirations but had to come to terms with reality.

See the trailer



February 28 is a public holiday in Taiwan, designated as Peace Memorial Day to commemorate the massacres that began on February 28, 1947 and the White Terror period that followed for the next four decades (1947-1987). 70 years have since passed, but it is still a contentious topic in Taiwan due to the fact that Kuomintang (KMT), the political party that massacre perpetrators belong to, is still a major (though currently in minority) player in Taiwanese politics. In many ways, KMT during the White Terror period behaved very much like the Communist Party of China today, as the incident was a taboo subject during those 40 years, and was not even taught in schools until 1990s. Taiwan Bar’s video above (English subtitle/CC available) provides an introduction to something many families in Taiwan still grieve about today.

From the Washington PostFor decades, no one spoke of Taiwan’s hidden massacre. A new generation is breaking the silence.

When the U.S. stopped recognizing the ROC in 1979…

As we now enter the very uncertain period in Sino-American-Taiwanese relations, I found these two gems of interview of American officials from the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, detailing the moments when ROC was first notified of the de-recognition in 1979, as well as how the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto American embassy in Taiwan, came about. They are a bit long, but both are fascinating reads.

The U.S. De-recognizes Taiwan in Favor of Communist China — January 1, 1979, interview of Neal Donnelly, then Public Affairs Officer in Taiwan.

A cable came in late at night, I’m not sure if it was 9:30 or 10:00 at night — something like that — saying that Carter was going to announce the normalization of China and the de-recognition of Taiwan. Mark immediately got a hold of Unger at the Christmas party at I think about 11:00 pm and then Unger started the wheels in motion to contact Chiang Ching-kuo who was the President of the country.

Now you don’t just go to the President of the country’s house and ring the bell and talk to him, so it took a while to go through the several people that they had to and then they got Chiang Ching-kuo at, I think, slightly after two o’clock in the morning. Unger told him that we were de-recognizing Taiwan.

Continue reading “When the U.S. stopped recognizing the ROC in 1979…”

Detention: horror game about Taiwan’s martial law past

Set in the 1960s, when Taiwan was still under martial law imposed by the authoritarian KMT regime, Detention is an atmospheric horror game that has players go through the life of two high school students. They have to go through the once familiar campus, avoid the evil that has seeped through the classrooms they thought they know, and try to make it to safety. The game infuses elements from Taiwan’s history, Chinese mythology, as well as East Asian folk cultures and religions. With carefully crafted graphics and original soundtracks, the game provides an experience that makes you treasure the freedom and rights afforded to a democratic society.

Detention is available on the online game platform, Steam, for $11.99.

Chinese Taipei?


Every four years, whenever the Summer Olympics comes along*, I inevitably get the question, “why is Taiwan called Chinese Taipei in the Olympics?”

Taiwan’s official flag, Chinese Taipei Olympic flag, and the Olympics rings

CNN provides an explanation for this, but I want to give it more context. Continue reading “Chinese Taipei?”

Taiwan President apologizes to indigenous peoples

On behalf of the Government of Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen today issued a formal apology to the country’s indigenous peoples in a ceremony at the Presidential Office in Taipei. Taiwan is home to about 550,000 indigenous peoples (~2.3% of Taiwan’s population), who research suggests started living on the island about 8,000 years before the Sino-Tibetan Han migration began in the 17th century. They are Austronesian peoples. Much like indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, these native peoples became victims of forced land acquisition, mass murder (some may say genocide), forced cultural assimilation and acculturation, and culture, language, and identity lost when different colonizing powers and populations started arriving on the island. Today, they face economic and social barriers, including a high unemployment rate and substandard education. Continue reading “Taiwan President apologizes to indigenous peoples”