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Interesting encounters in Japan

breakfast in Japan

My strategy for fighting jet lag returning from Asia is to have a large breakfast followed by a large lunch on the departure date. Minimal fluid around lunch and depart in the afternoon. Sleep little the night before. And then sleep all the way in a window seat on the plane. On numerous occasions, I managed to be out before take off and waking up as the plane approaches San Francisco. Picture to the left was my breakfast (a promise I’d show Allen during a chat) from yesterday while in Japan.

Seriously though, I had a number of interesting encounters during this trip to Japan.

First was a peddler for the Epoch Times in a market near Ueno Station. She was there distributing copies of a Chinese language version of the Epoch Times paper. People mostly ignored her, except for the occasional takers. Since I had some time before catching a bullet train to Narita, I thought a conversation with such a person might give me some insights into her thinking. In the back of my mind, I wanted to know to what aim she hope to achieve.

On the front-page of the paper were images of Yueyue being struck by the two vans. (We recently blogged about it too, here. As reader Naqshbandiyya pointed out, one must bear in mind the ‘bystander effect.’) She said the two year-old died because of the CCP. She said that the Chinese people and culture were noble before the CCP took power.

I interrupted her and asked, “what about the hundreds of millions of people the Chinese government brought out of abject poverty?” Before I finished, she shoved a copy of “the History of the Chinese Communist Party” article at me. She went into corruption without missing a beat. I again interrupted her by pointing out the fact that the U.S. recently extradited a corrupt official back to China for prosecution for embezzling money. I was about to explain that the Chinese government openly acknowledges the problem and in fact works hard at fighting it.

Apparently what I said didn’t register. She went on. I thought about the conversation I had earlier this year with a Chinese auto worker while on my way to Yangshuo from Guilin. (See “Conversation with a Chinese auto-worker on fighting graft.”) Not possible with her.

She viewed the CCP like how the Crusaders viewed the Muslims; it was a matter of good versus evil. (She also talked about the plight of many Chinese during the Cultural Revolution. Honestly, on that and corruption, I was sympathetic.)

After she brought up organ harvesting, I lost my patience. So, I asked her what she wanted? She replied, “the CCP must be gone; if they are gone, China will be well again.”

I shook my head and pleaded with her, “if you studied Chinese history, you should know that whenever China becomes weak she is invaded.” Before she replied, I also said that whenever a country looses strong central control, the country usually breaks out into civil war. That is even assuming the country is not meddled with by foreigners. That would likely bring disaster. “Do you wish that on the Chinese people?”

I didn’t expect her to have an answer. And, she didn’t. She continued with more accusations.

Our conversation basically ended there.

As I continued walking through the outdoor market full of shops, I thought how sad this encounter was. Here is a Chinese woman in Japan trying to distribute copies of the Epoch Times in Chinese. How many Chinese people travel through that area a year? I didn’t get the impression she could speak Japanese well. Something must have happened to her personally to give rise to such strong resentment.

I felt sad because she seemed to be shrouded in so much hatred and is unable to see things from another perspective. Perhaps her personal grievances have merits and perhaps there are just recourse within China. Instead, here, she was alone in a foreign land trying to seek ‘justice’ at home.

Had she thought about the hundreds of millions of Chinese people who were once dirt poor and now looking forward to an even better future? It’s a long line!

My next encounter was on the Skyliner, a speedy train that goes from the Ueno Keisei station to Narita. He was a U.S. air force pilot; retired now and lives in Japan. In about 45 minutes, we hit a number of topics.

On the Fukushima nuclear power plant radiation, he thought that the Japanese government had a really difficult choice. The radiation levels were high enough to cause health problems for some Tokyo residents. However, to evacuate Tokyo, it would pose a new head-ache. Where would the 30 million people go?

Japan is actually raising electricity price next year to cover the cost associated with this melt down. My thought was that the Japanese government was already in huge debt, and in such circumstances, options are more limited when disasters strike.

We both agreed that the Occupy Wall Street have not put forth a solution to their complaints. He sympathized with the protesters and believed they are protesting against the wrong people. In his view, the OWS should be protesting against U.S. politicians. Both parties.

From the look on his face, I could tell he was deeply indignant of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

I took the opportunity to explain for him that the 1989 Tiananmen protests by students were due to their concerns over the decade long privatization policy put forth by Deng since 1979. There was no longer job security upon graduation. In that sense, the student protests were not different from the OWS. It was not about ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’ as the Western press portrayed. The students protested against corruption too.

I said to him the U.S. media is broken. They are not taking a responsible stance towards society. They are polarizing and sensationalizing. He injected, “they are dumbing everything down to five-minute sound bites.”

If capitalistic media tends that way, “then isn’t U.S. democracy broken?” Answering back, he said, “I don’t think it is broken. I think they just need to report in depth.”

Not satisfied, I ask, “what would you do if you are the President?”

After thinking for a brief moment, he said:

I would end all the wars and bring the troops home. We are no longer in a Cold War, and it doesn’t make sense to occupy these countries.

He asked me how many troops in Japan. I said something like 50,000. He nodded in agreement at the irony as I told him I read an article where the U.S. was negotiating with the Japanese government on their portion of the occupying expenses.

Next, he said he had bring back more manufacturing to the United States. How is it possible given the labor cost?

He said the blame should be laid against American unions. He believed the unions were for the unions themselves, not for the workers. He thought that the unions had served their purpose in U.S. history to ensure worker’s rights.

In my view, the U.S. standard of living is really high. The lower paying manufacturing jobs will naturally move to poorer countries, with or without the unions. But I agreed, without the unions, American labor could become more competitive.

He went on to say that China enjoys an unfair advantage in labor because the workers are treated poorly. I said, the 700 million people in the farm are waiting for a chance for having a 3x in salary increase by working in a factory. (By the way, don’t hold me to account on this 3x stat. I used it as a qualitative comparison.) He added, “and there is another billion in India waiting.” And, I said, “China’s unions are about to play that role the same way the American ones did before.”

After sighing, he adds:

The Soviets went bankrupt because we raced them on military spending. Now we are spending ourselves into oblivion. It is not a revenue issue. It is a spending issue.”

I nodded.

He continued:

The politicians kicked the ball down the road. I would cut the spending.”

I told him I have been watching the Republican primaries, and I frequently see footage of other candidates making mocking expressions whenever Ralph Nader talks about doing the exact same.

The rest of my conversation with him was not so relevant to the blog.

Oh, and picture below was my lunch. Note the bottle of sake (upper right-hand corner). It was warmed. That soba at the opposite end of the table was mine too! And, I told the flight attendant to tell her colleagues to let me sleep. This strategy works every time.

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  1. Nihc
    October 31st, 2011 at 02:13 | #1

    Plenty of FLGs distributing Epoch Times here in Melbourne too. Why are they everywhere?

  2. Scabies
    October 31st, 2011 at 05:45 | #2

    It’s called freedom of expression Nihc. I guess if you don’t like it you can go (back) to the PRC

    Love Scabies

  3. raventhorn
    October 31st, 2011 at 05:51 | #3

    Nihc :Plenty of FLGs distributing Epoch Times here in Melbourne too. Why are they everywhere?

    Because FLG stands for “Freaking Looney Gang”. It’s just another cult that preys on the naive. They get more and more members as economies get worse.

  4. raventhorn
    October 31st, 2011 at 06:00 | #4

    I had a conversation in the Chinese embassy lobby in SF with an elderly American guy, who thought US should be more like China, in executing more criminals.

    (I guess if Rick Perry becomes President, US will be more like China, at least in death penalties! :))

  5. raventhorn
    October 31st, 2011 at 06:08 | #5

    Speaking of Texas’ death penalties, interesting statistics.

    during Rick Perry’s 11 years as governor of Texas, Texas had 234 executions, (would had 28 more, if not for US Supreme Court ruling stopping Perry).

    Texas has ~25 Million people.

    On the per year per population unit basis, that’s the same proportion of population executed as China overall, resulting in ~1100 executions per 1.3 billion people per year!!

    NEAT!! I guess Texas is just a smaller size China, in death penalty statistics! LOL!!

  6. raventhorn
    October 31st, 2011 at 06:31 | #6

    I also meant to say, China is just a bigger sized Texas!!

  7. October 31st, 2011 at 07:41 | #7

    You had an interesting encounter with that woman. Possibly, you are right and she was somehow hurt by authorities.

    In general, I second her sentiments about CCP and think that CCP is evil and directly responsible for many problems in modern China. I won’t even mention the past crimes of Mao Zedong that resulted in deaths of millions of Chinese people.

    It’s ironic that simple people are often called “owners of the country” (while many of them live in terrible poverty) and CCP members are called “servants of people” (while they shamelessly bathe in luxury).

    As for speculation about China’s fate without CCP – one can simply look across the Taiwan strait. Taiwanese undoubtedly enjoy more freedom and better life quality.

  8. October 31st, 2011 at 08:08 | #8

    @Augis
    Saying the CCP is evil is like saying the Zionist is evil. It borders on hysteria with no substance. Frankly, your understanding of Mao is laughable in any real academic circle. Read books on him published by universities not those sensational best sellers.

    No, it is you who have little understanding of history or modern politics. The CCP has over 80 millions members, list examples of those who bathe in luxury. And why don’t you comment on the minority policy on S.Korea and Japan. You still don’t get it, do you? Freedom and quality of life comes with economic developement. Even Taiwan, S.Korea, Japan depends on trade with China to maintain current quality of life.

    The Palestinian was opressed so badly but you are here spilling your crocodile tears here???

  9. October 31st, 2011 at 08:17 | #9

    The FLG also distribute their paper in most cities in Canada. Not too many people read them. I would say easily half the Chinese people don’t know that Epoch Time is run by FLG.

  10. silentvoice
    October 31st, 2011 at 08:19 | #10

    Augis :
    It’s ironic that simple people are often called “owners of the country” (while many of them live in terrible poverty) and CCP members are called “servants of people” (while they shamelessly bathe in luxury).

    I wonder what made you say that? Because even NYT could not claim that top leaders in China “bathe in luxury”. The corrupt ones are mostly middle rung local officials. But in a large developing country like China, you’ll expect some bad apples. The problem is mild compared to India, another developing country. In developing countries, these things happen.

    As for speculation about China’s fate without CCP – one can simply look across the Taiwan strait. Taiwanese undoubtedly enjoy more freedom and better life quality.

    That’s a very simple minded comment. Without the CCP, China could break up (like yinyang said in his op). She’s also more likely go to war with the US or Taiwan, because democratic leaders worry about votes, and the electorate are more hardline than people at the top.

  11. silentvoice
    October 31st, 2011 at 08:25 | #11

    @Nihc
    There’s an increasing number of them in Singapore too. One group likes to congregate at a subway station I frequent. They are annoying because they block foot traffic.

    The increase could be natural, as there’s more immigrants from China to SG now. But I believe they are tourists rather than PR or employment pass holders.

  12. raventhorn
    October 31st, 2011 at 08:35 | #12

    @silentvoice

    Interesting about FLG in Singapore:

    I know that Singapore has laws that prohibits defamatory speech against some religions. I wonder if FLG’s literature sometimes might cross that line.

  13. silentvoice
    October 31st, 2011 at 08:51 | #13

    @raventhorn #12
    There’s also a law that prohibits people from gathering for political purposes unless the group has obtained a police permit. But I don’t know why they’ve not been arrested. They’re always there, about a dozen of them. You can “tell” they are FLG members because some hold up placades with anti-CCP messages. I’ll pay more attention the next time to see if they are always the same individuals or different ones.

  14. colin
    October 31st, 2011 at 09:51 | #14

    “Plenty of FLGs distributing Epoch Times here in Melbourne too. Why are they everywhere?”

    Because they are funded by western governments and organizations.

  15. October 31st, 2011 at 11:10 | #15

    Warm sake is the bomb. I never thought I’d miss Japan after living their (insane working hours and management culture) but the picture just managed to do it. Japanese food still doesn’t hold a candle to Chinese food though.

    As for the De Wang’s take on things, well, I don’t agree with a lot of it – but you knew that already.

  16. raventhorn
    October 31st, 2011 at 11:21 | #16

    @FOARP

    Not to nitpick too much, but FOARP, what’s the point of your 2nd paragraph?

    We know you don’t agree with yinyang on his “take on things”, not like we forget that quickly, even if you don’t say it.

    yinyang was describing his “encounters” in Japan with different people, whats’ there (in his “take on things”) for you to disagree with??

    You just want to pop in and make a generic “disagreement”? 🙂

    Well, it’s nice that you still care about yinyang’s “take on things”.

  17. October 31st, 2011 at 11:42 | #17

    @FOARP
    “Warm sake is the bomb. I never thought I’d miss Japan after living their (insane working hours and management culture) but the picture just managed to do it. Japanese food still doesn’t hold a candle to Chinese food though.”

    I think you have a habit of trying to compare things to one another without really understand where it come from or how it stand on its own merit. Your opinion on Japanese vs Chinese food is a good example. I cherish the fact that Japanese, Chinese, Indian or other food existed. The world would be a very dull place is there is only one culture or way of doing things.

  18. October 31st, 2011 at 13:11 | #18

    Folks – let’s not feed the troll.

    Augis – I am placing your comments into the spam queue until I feel you are trying to have a fruitful discussion here.

  19. October 31st, 2011 at 13:16 | #19

    @raventhorn

    Yeah, I heard some other states (such as Alabama) are even worse in per capita capital punishment stats

  20. October 31st, 2011 at 13:19 | #20

    Plenty of FLGs distributing Epoch Times here in Melbourne too. Why are they everywhere?

    As Colin notes, following the money can tend to lead to some fairly predictable places:

    http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2001/134/145/2001-134145670-1-9.pdf
    http://falungongpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/03/money-trail-between-us-government-and.html

    These are fairly small sums, however. One does wonder where the rest comes from…

    CCP members are called “servants of people” (while they shamelessly bathe in luxury).

    That would come as rather startling news to many of the grad students here, who are a.) CCP members and b.) living in the penury one might expect of American grad students. Ah well, as they say, never let facts get in the way of a good preconception.

    As far as FLDF in general goes, I see it as something approaching the Chinese version of Scientology (albeit without the near-naked profit motive). Their attitude on interracial dating and racist stance on biracial people alone qualifies it as ‘evil’ in my books. I don’t think it follows that they should be banned, but let’s remember for comparison’s sake that France lists Scientology as a ‘cult’, and Switzerland refuses to acknowledge it as a religion, instead listing it as a for-profit business.

  21. October 31st, 2011 at 16:06 | #21

    @M F Cooper

    These are fairly small sums, however. One does wonder where the rest comes from…

    There is still a sizable portion of the Chinese population resentful of the CCP for the 1949 take-over and then for the suffering endured during the Cultural Revolution.

    Many of my relatives ran over to Taiwan in 1949, because if they’d stayed, their wealth would have been confiscated and themselves thrown in jail.

    If the super rich in America believes the OWS will lead to redistribution of their wealth, many would flea the country with their wealth. And that was exactly what happened during the Chinese civil war between Mao and Chiang.

    I also have relatives who were thrown into jail during the Cultural Revolution. One of them was a lawyer.

    For these relatives, they have stopped resenting. They believe the ideological nonsense and struggles are no longer. Well, I should take back my point above about a sizable population being resentful. Most are just happy in the last three decades China is on the right path finally.

    I’d say the vast majority of the above mentioned people think the FLDF/FLG is a cult. But, certainly, some of them might support the FLG out of resentment of the CCP.

    In my opinion, the peddlers and the ‘grunts’ are the FLG adherents themselves. They simply donate their time.

    Before FLG became political in China, it enjoyed some support. So, there is a sizable population of adherents today.

    As far as the Epoch Times and Shen Yun and Tang Dynasty TV go, I would venture to guess they are professionally organized with NED type of expertise. Those some millions of NED funding fund such expertise. If you have ever looked at the Epoch Times paper – most of the authors are with non-Chinese names. (This was based on one copy I saw somewhere, so please don’t ask me to prove it.)

  22. Charles Liu
    October 31st, 2011 at 17:14 | #22

    Chris Jasurek (editor) and Stephen Gregory (CEO), to name couple Epoch Times leaders.

  23. Nihc
    October 31st, 2011 at 19:02 | #23

    @Scabies

    I am not from the PRC. You should also go back to where ever you came from. Australia is mine.

  24. Nihc
    October 31st, 2011 at 19:10 | #24

    Whats bothering me is that given that they are not a mainstream religion, but they seems to have a lot of money to have all these old ladies hand out the Epoch Times in Chinatown or Queen Victoria’s Market. As far as I know, expenses are not cheap even for the the local Buddhist temple I attended in Melbourne. But they again maybe they willingly do it for free.

  25. Nihc
    October 31st, 2011 at 19:14 | #25

    I have never seen them in Thailand though. Even though the Chinese population in Thailand is over 10 times that of Australia.

  26. Wahaha
    October 31st, 2011 at 19:35 | #26

    That would come as rather startling news to many of the grad students here, who are a.) CCP members and b.) living in the penury one might expect of American grad students. Ah well, as they say, never let facts get in the way of a good preconception…..

    *******************************

    MF Cooper,

    please for once, use your own brain, not just fed by your media.

    Have you ever thought why US government had no money to help the victims of Katrina but CCP had money to help the victims of WenChuan earthquake ?

    One more thing, there is no way CCP couldve brainwashed chinese people, as its media doesnt enjoy enough credibility. While in West, people take whatever media told them

    Enjoy.

  27. Wahaha
    October 31st, 2011 at 19:40 | #27

    Augis,

    The cheap shot “wu mao” is more like self-“massage” than an insult.

    The whatever walk in China had less than one dozen people joined in, including one american.

    and now in west …, you know …

  28. Nihc
    October 31st, 2011 at 19:48 | #28

    @Scabies

    Just wanted to add this: your comment disgust me, dirtbag. You are just as low as the hobo yelling the same thing at people who blame his “fate” on “immigrants”. So yes, go back to where you came from, you don’t belong here.

  29. zack
    November 1st, 2011 at 01:56 | #29

    in most societies, children are protected from visceral images such as torture and violence; this is even mandated in TV guidelines and broadcasting regulations.

    Why then, are Falun Dafa ppl allowed to peddle their filth in the open streets of all major western cities?

  30. Scabies
    November 1st, 2011 at 03:18 | #30

    ‘Just wanted to add this: your comment disgust me, dirtbag’

    Intelligent stuff…….and where is ‘here’, do you mean on the internet, or just this circle- jerk in particular?

    Indignant zack, I suggest you contact you local elected government officials to deal with this issue, as you would do in the PRC.

  31. raventhorn
    November 1st, 2011 at 05:45 | #31

    @Nihc

    There are some permanent FLG protest “stalls” in US.

    (1) SF, outside of Chinese embassy. The “old lady” FLG vendor stall, though the SF PD moved that location away from the visa office entrance, or back. (It used to be a Tibetan protest “stall” in that location all the time, until FLG sort of took over the spot).

    (2) Flushing, NY, outside of a supermarket, which is really weird.

    There was recently a FLG protest rally in Chinatown, NYC, that was also a bit strange. It turned into a bit of a tourist parade, because it was on the same weekend as the Women Cancer charity walk, and the OWS was still going on. I guess FLG was starving for attention again!! 🙂

  32. Scabies
    November 1st, 2011 at 06:05 | #32

    [deleted for trolling]

  33. raventhorn
    November 1st, 2011 at 06:19 | #33

    @Nihc

    I remember in 2008, the FLG protesters in Flushing caused a bit of public disturbance, by saying that the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake was equivalent of divine retribution. (Of course, they later denied saying it).

    Kind of reminds me of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell’s little gaff about the Homosexuals causing 9/11 as divine punishment.

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1953778_1953776_1953796,00.html

  34. November 1st, 2011 at 08:04 | #34

    @Wahaha #26
    I think you misunderstood MF Cooper. He’s criticizing those wrongly attacking ‘China’ using sarcasm. 🙂

  35. November 1st, 2011 at 08:14 | #35

    @raventhorn
    There is also a permanent protest house just opposite the Chinese consulate in Vancouver. The house is worth around a million dollar. The Epoch time even though is free is not doing well because there are at least another 10 Chinese language paper that is free in Canada.

    Frankly, the only way China can fight this misinformation campaign is by improving the standard of living and progress of the people. FLG is a lot weaker than 10 yrs ago. Nihc mentioned that there is little presence in Thailand. That’s also the case in Malaysia and Singapore. Those govn’t actually crack down on them (they don’t like political inteference from outside).

    Have you noticed that most overseas borned Chinese do not support them. Their hardcore supporters are usually mainland, Taiwan borned.

  36. pug_ster
    November 1st, 2011 at 08:40 | #36

    It is kind of unfortunate that the FLG propaganda war is pretty effective. I do agree that it is somehow similar to the Scientology cult but much more effective. You got thousands if not tens of thousands of willing unpaid ‘volunteers’ to distribute the newspaper and people protest near the Chinese embassies around the world. The newspapers are actually doing okay as they get revenue from advertising and various Western governments. The newspaper is not all about anti-Chinese propaganda, as only about 10-20% of their stories are about China. They have news on stocks, world news, sports, rumors, gossip, etc… and other stuff that you see on a regular newspapers and has nothing to do with China. They host numerous ‘Chinese culture’ events disguised as Anti-China propaganda and the followers of this Cult barely gets paid anything. These guys take the Anti-China sentiments from the West and amplifies it.

  37. Nihc
    November 1st, 2011 at 11:31 | #37

    “‘Just wanted to add this: your comment disgust me, dirtbag’
    Intelligent stuff…….and where is ‘here’, do you mean on the internet, or just this circle- jerk in particular?”

    It wasn’t meant to be hard to understand you condescending twat. If you had told a black guy to his face to go back to Africa or make a jibe about his intelligence, I am sure you will be picking up your teeth from the pavement. I am frankly tempted to do the same. Frankly I don’t know what your problem is, I have never even spoken to you before. Your snide remarks are just racist. Moderator please banned this troll.

    I really don’t know how westerners expect to win overseas Chinese to their cause with this kind of attitude. I am a third generation immigrant with background in Malaysia and Thailand. Some of my ancestors have been living in Malaysia for at least 5 generations. So really, its not like I ‘chose’ to immigrate from China. But meeting people like Scabies, just make me thankful China is rising fast in the right direction. Or we would have to put up with a lot more crap like these. Really, if anything moving to Australia have taught me is that most of the immigrants are white. So don’t give me that rubbish about ‘going back to China’, how about you tell your people to go back to where you came from. We have the same right to exploit Australia’s abundance natural resources as much as you do. But yes, encountering people like you are really the downside. My Indian friend who have lived in both Australia and in a Chinese environment like Hong Kong would agree that Australia is far more hostile & unpleasant.

    Its not as if Australia is a shining beacon of enlightenment and free speech either. Frankly the quality of journalism here is shameful. Thailand’s English newspaper have more substantial content by far. I can’t see how hiding your collective head in a hole can be good for the future of the nation in the long run. Especially when the most brilliant white people here all have immigrant background from the poor nations of Eastern Europe.

  38. Nihc
    November 1st, 2011 at 11:39 | #38

    @raventhorn

    What I have been wondering about these FLG people here is that they seems to be all old ladies, who don’t seem to speak English, as far as I can tell. (They just shove the copy of Epoch Times in my hand, never mind that I don’t read Chinese). Which effectively make them unemployable. I am just wondering if someone is paying them to do it. It would be good to give them some job actually.

    I have seen the video about the claim of “divine retribution” though. Quite shameful. Especially the ones who suffered most from these earthquakes are minorities like the Qiang or the Tibetans. I am guessing CCP’s karma is completely misdirected?

  39. Nihc
    November 1st, 2011 at 12:21 | #39

    @Ray

    “Have you noticed that most overseas borned Chinese do not support them. Their hardcore supporters are usually mainland, Taiwan borned.”

    Yes, infact, despite living in Australia for almost a decade, I have actually have not gotten to know a single FLG person.

    I have met many anti-China Taiwanese though. Some of them are so biased against China that when I was hanging out them and there was a neighboring bunch of Mainlanders, they would curse under their breath “f**king commies”. Which made me think that if I was actually from China, there would have been no way we could be friends. I actually called one of my Taiwanese ‘friend’ out on this, and he basically said that he wouldn’t just curse ‘them’ (the Mainlanders) under his breath, he would yell it to their face. His ridiculous stance on Chinese people just lost me, and I basically stop hanging out with these people. Even this other Taiwanese girl I know have some ridiculous prejudiced of “Chinese people” that even my Malaysian Chinese friends agreed that she’s indoctrinated.

    Luckily not all Taiwanese are like that, especially not the ones from my Buddhist temple. But quite a few of them are very peculiar, ever since highschool (I went to an international school in Thailand). They can also be on the mean side, like the stereotypical American high school with all the trash talking and being abusive to each other. (I think in this aspect, westernization is quite bad, I would not want my children to grow up like that). One Taiwanese guy from Brisbane who have been to Shanghai even agreed that China is a future super power, and that nothing in Taiwan have ever happened like this. I personally have been to Taiwan once, in highschool, more than 10 years ago, it reminded me quite a lot of Malaysia, i.e. a fairly pleasant place, but didn’t get the impression that it was very developed or anything. He agreed that Taiwan hasn’t changed much since 10 years ago. (Neither has Thailand in all the time that I have been there). Whereas revisiting China last year just completely blow me away. Hong Kong doesn’t come close to Shanghai. When I was in highschool 10 years ago even Beijing was not more developed than Bangkok. But when I was in Chengdu and Inner Mongolia earlier this year, I think the average folks on the street might be wealthier than Thailand already. Indeed the Geni index seems to support this.

    Its not all wonderful of course, many places in China still have very bad hygiene, even in Shanghai. But it got a lot better. So its pretty hopeful.

    Since starting Masters, I also have made heaps of friends from Mainland China, and its in fact harder to convince them that the Chinese government is doing quite an impressive job at nation building (especially compared to Thailand or Malaysia). Especially when their only exposure to the world outside China is Australia.

  40. November 1st, 2011 at 13:42 | #40

    @Nihc
    Thanks for sharing your experiences here, and I appreciate despite your horrible experiences with a handful of people from Taiwan, you are able to maintain a distinction from the whole. Our Allen here was born there. Myself have many relatives still living there; they went over during the civil war.

    Taiwan politics is extremely polarized, especially between the DPP and the KMT camps. So, for people like CHEN Shuibian who is hell bent on formal independence, that camp naturally will foment an identity separate from the ‘Chinese.’ They will distance themselves. Some of them even see tension between the Mainland and the U.S. as a path towards their goal.

    The DPP constituent suffered greatly at the hands of the KMT too. It’s a complicated history with resentments for sure. There ought to be resentment towards the U.S. too, because Chiang Kaishek was supported by the U.S.. What about the 60 years of occupation by Japan prior to that? It’s all something to think about.

    Anyways, I think Taiwan re-uniting with the Mainland is a matter of time.

  41. November 1st, 2011 at 17:13 | #41

    @Nihc
    I am not surprised by your experience, when I was studying there’s few students from the mainland. Most Taiwanese are indoctrined from young to hate the mainlander (including those from the KMT). However, we have example like Justin Lin who is a multi-generational Taiwanese who can see the big picture. I have relative in Taiwan who won’t even fly China Airlines because it was run by KMT. They used to be hard core Ah-Bian supporters, nowadays they are pretty disillusion as well though. My cousins my age don’t really care about politics but basically the next generation want their point of view respect.

    Like you have said, the biggest shock to them is that the mainland development is so fast. I still remember in 1997 during the return of HK, both Taiwan and HK have bigger forex reserve than the mainland. Nevertheless, I believe only 2/10 of Taiwanese have ever visited mainland so the prejudice still run deep.

    Although Malaysia has per capita tripled that of mainland China, the gini index in Malaysia is worse, and I can be certain that corruption is worse. A cop in mainland China simply won’t accept bribe to forgive a speeding ticket in China but is common place in Malaysia. Problem is the average cop makes US$300/month.

  42. November 1st, 2011 at 17:29 | #42

    @YinYang
    The TIers all have selective amnesia, forgetting it is US unconditional support that allow the KMT to rule under marshal law for over thirty years. The mainland might have the cultural revolution, Taiwan also have the white terror where suspects are executed or spend long time in jails without trial. Li Ao spent 7 yeras in prison, Shi Mingde 20 yrs, Anette Lu, Chen Ju etc all were jail birds.

    On top of that the KMT also instituted a cultural campaign to wipe out the Minan or Hakka dialect. In school if you speak other dialect, you would be fined or punished. I remember an older relative who can’t speak mandarin well (as he grow up during japanese occupation) told me in the 1960s how he went to the police station to report a crime. As most cops are mainlanders, they couldn’t understand Minanese, they told him to learn proper Chinese before making a report. Can you imagine how insulted or angry he was?

    On top of that, all the top government position go to the KMT (most are non-Taiwanese). The majority thus was badly discrimanted before Li Denghui comes to power. Li sensed the opporturnity and used it garner support. A smart move since those who came over in 1949 only have 20% of the voting power. So nowadays, you se how Ma Yingjiu have to speak Taiwanese to appease the majority. In a sense the KMT is responsible for a lot of the animosity in Taiwan.

    Frankly, from my analysis hard core TIers are rare. Most said so to garner the so-called pan-green votes.

  43. Nihc
    November 1st, 2011 at 19:47 | #43

    Thanks, De Wang and Ray,

    “Most Taiwanese are indoctrined from young to hate the mainlander (including those from the KMT).”

    Yes, the anti-China Taiwanese guy also said that those waisheng people in Taiwan who still feel Chinese should just go back to China. Which I don’t think is reasonable. To me it almost seems like Taiwanization is a small form of ‘Cultural Revolution’.

    To me, as someone with South East Asian background, I think the Taiwanese has an interesting psychological profile. Taiwan actually has a native Austronesian population, similar to the Philippines, Indonesia or Malaysia. But for the Taiwan, the Chinese culture is actually dominant. Whereas in the other countries, Chinese are minorities. Chinese people in Malaysia for example actually identify strongly as Chinese. In fact, I have met some Filipinos and Indonesian who look practically ‘native’ due to dark skin and genetic drift, identify as Chinese. Its almost funny to see them look a bit insulted when I ask them if they have native blood. The animosity has gotten espeicially bad because some of the countries like Malaysia have pursued a nationalistic policy marginizing non-Malay, the Chinese and the Indians. It got to the point that you can insult a Malaysian Chinese person if he is called Malay instead of Malaysian. A far cry from ancient times where there were intermarraige and the Peranakan culture.

    Taiwan on the other hand, with their minority aboriginals, seems to have hijacked that identity as a rally point for Taiwanization. A funny story involves our Taiwanese friend told us that her great-grandmother is aboriginal. I commented that meant she is like a Filipino person. She was insulted: “NO! We are related to the Maori and the Hawaiian!”. She wasn’t wrong in some sense, Polynesians are related to Austronesians, but it was very selective. It was just that the 2 ethnicities happen to reside in first world New Zealand and USA. She just didn’t want to associate with third world nations like the Philippines. So, When I explained this to her, she grudgingly agreed, saying that she feels the Filipinos are a dodgy people especially since their fiasco involving Hong Kong tour bus hijacking.

    The thing is, despite the fact that we were born in different countries, have different political opinions, there’s clearly an undercurrent of Chinese culture that allowed us to have something in common and become friends with each other.

    “Like you have said, the biggest shock to them is that the mainland development is so fast. I still remember in 1997 during the return of HK, both Taiwan and HK have bigger forex reserve than the mainland.”

    The development in China is scary fast. You only need to google Pudong 2008 and 2011 to get a feel of how much Shanghai have changed in 3 years. They have done more in that 3 years than Thailand have done in 20. This is either amazing or something that I fear will end badly on the biblical Tower of Babel scale. I just hope its the former.

  44. Nihc
    November 1st, 2011 at 20:06 | #44

    “They used to be hard core Ah-Bian supporters, nowadays they are pretty disillusion as well though.”

    Speaking of disillusionment, I am sure its not just on one end. My tour guide to Inner Mongolia was a former PLA officer who married a Thai-Chinese lady, who is disillusioned with the CCP. He even wanted to go so far as denounced his citizenship and become a Thai, but his application was rejected on the ground that he’s a former military officer. His concerns was that there just wasn’t enough check and balances in CCP, and that there are way too many things getting covered up. One example was that he once met a man who claimed to be an escaped slave from an underground brick factory. It was so outrageous he didn’t believe it at the time. But later it was finally appeared in the news that there are these victims of human trafficking who forced to work under threat of violence by these unscrupulous factory owners. So even as an officer he’s very suspicious of the organization as a whole. He also thinks that there are too much ‘mind your own business’ and not enough objections in how things are done within the government.

    One example we experienced during that trip was that we changed some of our plans and visited another tourist attraction instead of the one that was planned. Some officer came up to the tour group and confiscated the tour guide’s permit because he wasn’t following the rules. Obviously this angered our tour guide even more about the system. (Although I can also understand that this rule was probably in place for terrorism/ security concerns).

    In his view he believes that in 20 years time, China would be even wealthier overall compared to Taiwan. But even that would not save China from its societal problems….

  45. raventhorn
    November 2nd, 2011 at 05:30 | #45

    @Nihc

    “A funny story involves our Taiwanese friend told us that her great-grandmother is aboriginal. I commented that meant she is like a Filipino person. She was insulted: “NO! We are related to the Maori and the Hawaiian!”. She wasn’t wrong in some sense, Polynesians are related to Austronesians, but it was very selective. It was just that the 2 ethnicities happen to reside in first world New Zealand and USA. She just didn’t want to associate with third world nations like the Philippines. So, When I explained this to her, she grudgingly agreed, saying that she feels the Filipinos are a dodgy people especially since their fiasco involving Hong Kong tour bus hijacking.”

    Speaking of Polynesian relations, some original “Han Chinese” families have Polynesian ancestries.

    Historians believe that some “Southern Barbarian” tribes before and during the Spring and Autumn Period, were actually descendants of Polynesians who migrated to China.

    For example, it was said that the Kingdoms of Chu, Wu, Yue were all Polynesian descendants.

    (Which explains why I look more Filippino than Chinese, according to my wife and some Filippino friends). 🙂

  46. November 2nd, 2011 at 14:41 | #46

    @YinYang #34:

    Thanks! I should probably know better than to wax facetious, though, since sarcasm doesn’t always translate well to online discourse.

  47. November 2nd, 2011 at 16:38 | #47

    Ray, Nihc, raventhorn,

    I personally know someone who was slapped for not speaking Mandarin in a Taiwan school when he was younger. 😉

    Interesting background about Taiwan!

    Nihc said:

    But even that would not save China from its societal problems…

    I have an optimistic view. Whatever craziness in Chinese society that you heard, look for such in other societies or in their recent past. Invariably, it’s all a journey. Just had such a horrible start due to foreign invasions and then civil war, followed by some very disastrous policies.

  48. xian
    November 2nd, 2011 at 17:23 | #48

    Sounds like one of those oldschool FLG nuts. I live in a very Chinese-dense area and I’ve never actually met one. Where do they keep coming from? Food looks good, btw.

  49. Nihc
    November 3rd, 2011 at 04:04 | #49

    @YinYang

    Well, I would certainly agreed that human trafficking is not a unique problem to China. It happens even in Japan (and even western countries), often exploiting the weak and helpless. I recalled seeing a talk show about a Thai lady who was formerly coerced into prostitution in Japan. The really sad bit was she developed terminal cervical cancer as a result. She went on the talk show to warn others young girls who could be lured into this.

    And yes, compared to all the screwed up things that was happening in China historically. China is practically high flying right now…

  50. Nihc
    November 3rd, 2011 at 04:11 | #50

    @raventhorn
    Thanks for sharing. But I don’t think its correct to say Polynesians migrated to China. I doubt those Polynesians know much about China in the past. The world was very big then. Rather, Austronesian groups migrated from South China to the rest of SEA and beyond, with Taiwan as one of the starting point. Infact I have seen arguments that the Tai-Kradai language family is a sub branch of the Austronesian language that have become tonal out of contact with Chinese languages. Certainly there are some words that seemed shared like “pratu” and “pintu” in Thai and Malay for ‘door’, but if there were any common ancestry its very diverged to the point that the Thai appearances and Malay appearances is substantially different.

  51. Wahaha
    November 3rd, 2011 at 08:11 | #51

    MF,

    My apology.

    Regards.

  52. Joe
    November 4th, 2011 at 12:53 | #52

    Those FLG wanderers are in trance filled with unclean/evil spirits in what they believe!

  53. JJ
    November 5th, 2011 at 22:24 | #53

    @Ray

    I have relative in Taiwan who won’t even fly China Airlines because it was run by KMT.

    Haha:) While I’m sure that might be a reason, my family chooses not to fly them because of their shoddy crash records.

    – – – – – – –

    It makes me sad when I see Taiwanese and Mainlanders argue about trivial things. I myself identify as both Taiwanese and Chinese. Just like a guy from Shanghai might identify as Shanghainese and Chinese.

    And while I also wish that one day, we can get along, I don’t want it to happen before the Mainland gets more rights.

    As much as I bash the Western corporate media about demonizing China, I still recognize that there are a lot of things that can be improved.

    While I don’t think democracy is that urgent right now, I do think “freedom of truth” is vital. Notice I said “truth” and not “speech.”

    I realize that the truth can be biased based on how you report something. But as long as you report just the facts—without weasel words—I feel that right should be protected.

    And as it stands now, I currently live in Taiwan and I can imagine myself raising a family and growing old here. In fact I have no desire to return to the US because Taiwan is that amazing to me.

    Also, Taiwan’s National Healthcare is simply great. I feel this is something the Mainland must adopt. I know they have their own version but it’s nowhere as comprehensive as Taiwan’s (and yes, I realize that it’s easier for TW since we only have 20-some million people. But I think it’s a noble goal).

  54. November 5th, 2011 at 22:38 | #54

    @JJ
    I personally think that is a fair and honest position to take. Mainland and Taiwan should unite under terms for which both sides feel the benefits outweigh the bad.

    What we all should oppose are those who try to sour the chances of the two sides in their efforts in normalizing the relationship, especially by those doing so on geopolitical grounds.

    When you said, “freedom of truth,” I am curious what do you mean? How do you think a society achieves it? How do you think the world as a whole achieve it?

  55. JJ
    November 7th, 2011 at 07:09 | #55

    @YinYang

    Ideally, truth reports the facts but also attempts to explain and place it in context.

    But I realize that’s not always the case. As some people or organizations report the “facts” with a very biased perspective and negative words.

    So I can understand the Mainland government being wary of that and rather than try to manage what is-and-is-not biased, they just censor all information about it.

    However, I feel that by doing so, they’re making society weaker.
    Because as a society, we learn from the lessons and experiences of others.

    For example, the CCP could have easily censored all the news about the little girl who was run over. But by allowing it to be reported, I know a lot of folks inside China are reevaluating their lives (well, at least the Mainland folks I’ve talked too!).

    So I feel that the government shouldn’t be afraid to report the protests and the corruption. Instead, they should embrace that type of news and handle it head on. Explaining the context of the situation and what they’re going to do to solve it—or why the protesters are wrong and they aren’t going to do anything! 🙂

  56. November 7th, 2011 at 08:07 | #56

    @JJ
    You are right, their reasoning was that it was run by the corrupted KMT and thus lots of crashes. To be fair many factors contributed to that. China Airlines was stuffed by mostly ex-ROC Air Force pilots. They have too much bravado and the ground crew maintainence is not world class. On top of that China Airlines used to be chaired by retired air force chief who is superior to the air ministry officer. Now I think they are better but still not as good as Eva Air.

    I agree on the health care issue too. Unless, mainland China can introduce a universal health care system, the goal of a harmonized society can never be achieved. There are simply too many areas in China (like Guizhou, Gansu, Yunnan, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan etc) which are too isolated and poor to catch up. Unless the central government invest in the health care, education, infrastructure in those areas, there is no way life can improved for those people. You can give them unlimited rights and nothing will come about it.

  57. JJ
    November 7th, 2011 at 22:35 | #57

    @Ray

    That’s really interesting! I didn’t realize there might be a political reason as to why China Airlines has a higher accident record or why some folks are biased against it.

    That being said, I do have a lot of Taiwanese friends that visit California that take it. Mainly because it’s a lot cheaper and they also have direct flights.

    And I have one friend that has this special China Airlines credit card that let’s her automatically upgrade to business class when she purchases an economy level!

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