Taiwanese activist tried in China

After Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh was abducted when crossing into China almost six months ago, his wife Lee Ching-yu received a phone call from a Zhang Zhongwei on September 6. Zhang claimed to be Lee’s attorney and asked Lee’s wife to travel to Yueyang, Hunan, China, where Lee would be due to attend trial. Lee’s wife departed for China on September 10 and had to sit through what could only be described as a farce of a trial the next day.

During the trial, Lee “confessed” to charges of “subverting state power” through posting articles on Chinese social media platforms QQ, Weibo, and WeChat with the intent to “maliciously discredit” the Community Party of China and promote democracy. He also added that he received “well-rounded education” during his detention and had come to recognize the progress China made in development. He further expressed his appreciation in China’s “civilized justice system”. The court uploaded Lee’s trial in edited segments to its Weibo account. The court will sentence Lee at a later date.

We may never know what actually led to Lee’s “confession” until and if he is released back to Taiwan. Most people who voted in Taiwan’s election or anyone who has voiced support for an independent Taiwan are guilty of those “charges” Lee “confessed” to. But one thing has never been clearer: China will prosecute and hunt down whoever it wants, under whatever reasons it deems necessary, but it is definitely not convincing any sane Taiwanese that the Communist Party of China, its one-party authoritarian rule, and unification are desirable in Taiwan’s future.

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Mayor of Tainan appointed new premier

Following the resignation of Taiwanese Premier Lin Chuan 林全 and his cabinet yesterday, President Tsai Ing-wen today appointed Tainan Mayor William Lai 賴清德 as premier, leading the executive branch of Taiwan’s central government. The cabinet reshuffling is widely seen as a move to reverse Tsai’s low approval ratings to prepare for the 2018 local elections. Former premier Lin has not held any elected offices.

Lai, 57 and a doctor by profession, received a BS from National Taiwan University in Taipei and MD from National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. He subsequently studied at Harvard University and was awarded a Master of Public Health degree. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1996 and four times elected to the Legislative Yuan in 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2008, all representing the Democratic Progressive Party in then-Tainan City. After then-Tainan City and Tainan County were merged into a single municipality, Lai won the 2010 mayoral election and was re-elected in 2014 with ~73% of the votes.

2017 Universiade opens in Taipei

The 29th Summer Universiade, the world university games, opens tonight in a ceremony at Taipei Stadium in Taiwan’s capital city. More than 7,000 athletes from 144 countries are competing in 22 sporting events. The ceremony features cultural and music performances, speeches from Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and International University Sports Federation (FISU) President Oleg Matytsin (Russia), and lighting of the ceremonial flame. The parade of nations was interrupted by anti-pension reform protesters, resulting in most athletes having to enter the stadium after all flag bearers have passed through. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced the opening of the games. Continue reading “2017 Universiade opens in Taipei”

Government to abolish Mongolian & Tibetan affairs commission

roc_mongolian_and_tibetan_affairs_commission_logoTaiwan’s Executive Yuan today approved a draft bill to abolish the Mongolian & Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC), a ministry-level agency responsible for Mongolian and Tibetan affairs by the end of this year. Much of its portfolio has already been transferred to the foreign ministry and the Mainland Affairs Council, leaving it as a primarily cultural promotion agency. Its current staff and portfolio will be absorbed by the Mainland Affairs Council and the Ministry of Culture. The commission maintains the Mongolian and Tibetan Cultural Center in Taipei. Continue reading “Government to abolish Mongolian & Tibetan affairs commission”

Taiwan is called what in the 2017 Universiade?

Update (11 August): After much reporting by Taiwanese media, the media guide published by the organizing committee has changed all geographical reference of the island in the kit to Taiwan. FISU’s page about the 2017 Universiade retains odd language using Chinese Taipei.

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The 29th Summer Universiade, the world university games, will be held in Taipei, Taiwan during 19-30 August, 2017. Touted as a great opportunity to showcase Taiwan on the international stage after Kaohsiung hosted the World Games and Taipei hosted the Deaflympics, both in 2009, Taipei is busy preparing for games and the opening ceremony, which Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to attend.

Despite all the fanfare and being the hosting country, Taiwan is not called Taiwan during the games. The English media guide introduces Taiwan under the title “Introduction of Our Island-Chinese Taipei” and continues with “Chinese Taipei is long and narrow[.]” Continue reading “Taiwan is called what in the 2017 Universiade?”

Linguistic challenges when writing about “China”

The Financial Times last month published The dark side of China’s national renewal (subscriptions required), addressing the idea that all Chinese people should help China achieve the “China Dream”:

To an English-speaking ear, rejuvenation has positive connotations and all nations have the right to rejuvenate themselves through peaceful efforts.

But the official translation of this crucial slogan is deeply misleading. In Chinese it is “Zhonghua minzu weida fuxing” and the important part of the phrase is “Zhonghua minzu” — the “Chinese nation” according to party propaganda. A more accurate, although not perfect, translation would be the “Chinese race”.

Zhonghua minzu 中華民族 is a phrase that doesn’t translate well in English. As discussed by Arif Dirlik in Born in Translation: “China” in the Making of “Zhongguo”, the words China and Chinese are inherently invited by the West.

As Lydia Liu has observed, “the English terms ‘China’ and ‘Chinese’ do not translate the indigenous terms hua [華], xia [夏], han [漢], or even zhongguo [中國] now or at any given point in history.”

Continue reading “Linguistic challenges when writing about “China””