China · Taiwan

It’s never boring when it comes to the news and China. I took a glance at Wall Street Asia’s China Realtime Report and there were some interesting stuff about China’s new aircraft carrier, Taiwan’s answer to China’s Confucius Institute and the new US Ambassador to China’s humility in buying a cup of coffee (Starbucks) himself. And one of the more recent ones is the world’s efforts to overcome China’s monopoly on rare earths. These precious minerals, which are used in making intricate components essential for electronic devices, are almost all produced by China, which accounts for a whopping 96% of global production. The story says that a new study has come out estimating that the world should start making enough of their own ( “permanent surplus with respect to supply” ) within a few years. However, my question is why and how did the world let China supply 96% of the global supply of something, much less something so essential to high-tech products? The Marketwatch article I linked to above (the last one) says lax environmental regulations and very low prices by Chinese companies contributed to China’s monopoly, but at the end of it, I think, the world- US, Europe, Australia, Japan, Brazil et al, needs to blame themselves for letting this happen. After all, China doesn’t control 96% of global deposits (plenty lie in countries all over the world), it just supplies 96% of the global supply.

China’s Confucius Institutes have been sprouting up all over the world, mostly on university campuses, in an attempt to promote Chinese culture and values and whatnot. Taiwan, has decided to open up Taiwan Academies which aim to do the same thing, except in Taiwan’s name. Because for sure, a lot of the stuff they will teach are Chinese, including the main language of instruction. In a sense, I think it would be good to have alternative institutes teaching Chinese culture. But notice I said Chinese culture? As I mentioned above, a lot of the stuff will be Chinese, and if they actually did scrape up enough Taiwanese stuff, it’s not going to attract much people. After all, who learns Mandarin because of Taiwan? You see, this shows exactly why I have my stance on China and unity. Politically, the current time may not be right for actual unification, but in terms of identity and values, many Taiwanese perceive themselves as Chinese. However, I can’t help noticing that the writer demonstrates a very perceivable stance supporting Taiwan as different, especially when I read the last several paragraphs. A DPP spokesman is quoted, and he makes an argument that suggests a strong amount of grasping for straws, describing Taiwan’s culture as having a “very strong flavor of Japanese” and some” Dutch and Spanish. The words I’ve underlined are what I’d say are not accurate (in other words, it’s nonsensical). Taiwanese culture has some Dutch flavor? WSJ writer Aries Poon, have you actually ever been to Taiwan? Or are you talking about another Taiwan that is not an island off the coast of China that is over 95% Chinese and which famous for night markets and its IT industry?

“It seems that the government is positioning Taiwanese culture as a branch of the Chinese one,” Lin Chun-hsien, a spokesman of the DPP, told China Real Time. “Our culture is a hybrid. It has a very strong flavor of the Japanese, and also some traits of the Dutch and Spanish culture.”

Philip Yang, the head of the Government Information Office, said the Academy plan includes the development of a digital library on Taiwanese culture and will incorporate the non-Chinese part of the island’s culture. The centers are focused on Mandarin, he said, because “a major part of Taiwanese culture is inherited from the Chinese.”

Taiwan was first colonized by the Dutch, the Spanish and the Japanese, before the Kuomintang fled from China and took over the island some 60 years ago. Many Taiwanese also speak fluent Japanese, and many key government buildings — including the Presidential House — were built by the Japanese during the occupation. To boot, there are also many aboriginal populations who have inhabited the island for centuries and maintain a culture completely disparate from China’s.

Meanwhile in the paragraph above, the writer makes a very false statement- “many Taiwanese speak fluent Japanese.” I’d say, in reality, “a few Taiwanese speak fluent Japanese” or “many Taiwanese speak very little Japanese”. Furthermore, the writer says (using some bad English as well) there are a lot of aboriginals, when in reality they comprise less than 1 percent of Taiwan’s population.


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