China · Sports · Taiwan

Assorted reads on China, HK, Taiwan, the US, and Japan

I had to attend a whole-day workshop at work today, in what was a rainy and cool (weatherwise) day in Taipei. While the workshop’s content on dealing with clients might be useful, what was more interesting was a conversation with coworkers that reaffirmed Taiwan’s two favorite targets of criticism and mockery- South Korea and mainland China. While the Korean criticisms were the standard stuff – Koreans are aggressive, nationalistic, closed, etc, the China criticisms, which admittedly weren’t that angry, included mainland people tend to look you up and down before talking to you, and that Chinese cities can be noisy. I wonder if Taiwanese are running out of things to criticize mainlanders about.

The number of mainland students coming to Taiwan to study this year is again disappointingly low, coming in at 987, which is slightly more than the 928 in the first batch of mainland students. Given the heavy restrictions imposed by Taiwan (no scholarships, no public health insurance, no right to work etc) and the relatively low level of awareness of life and universities in Taiwan, it’s not that surprising. I mean, Taiwan is a nice place to visit or study Chinese, but to come study for a degree, not so much. The local authorities have kind of seen the light and have eased some restrictions and may remove the restriction on national health insurance enrollment, so maybe things can improve next year.

In a startling reminder that the world can still be a crazy and unsafe place, the US got a big shock this past week when its ambassador to Libya was killed in an attack on its consulate in Benghazi. This is obviously a tragedy, and several questions remain such as how the attackers, part of a crowd that was protesting an anti-Muslim film that was released recently, managed to attack and destroy part of the consulate. Second, the circumstances surrounding the US ambassador’s death were sketchy, for instance, when reports of the attack on the consulate first came out, his death wasn’t even reported. It’s also confusing why the US ambassador was in the consulate rather than in the embassy in Tripoli, or why there wasn’t more security with him. The attackers might be Islamic militants, which makes sense since ordinary protester, no matter how incensed, wouldn’t be expected to easily overrun a diplomatic compound and kill US officials. These protests have spread and more US embassies, along with German and British embassies in Sudan, have been attacked, with deaths and injuries to protesters mounting especially in Tunisia.

Meanwhile, things are heating up between China and Japan over a bunch of rocks in the sea as ships from both nations exchanged warnings near the Diaoyutais. Taiwan meanwhile has been making noise over having a three-way meeting over the islands, since Taiwan also claims them, but it seems ludicrous, since holding these talks would mean Taiwan being treated as a sovereign nation, which China is adamantly against. Also, Japan does.

Hong Kongers got out last Sunday to protest plans to introduce nationalistic courses to the HK school system, making the HK government back down. While it’s understandable, I wonder if HKers will ever be compelled to care enough and march for problems in their society that have nothing to do with mainland China, such as say, people having to literally live in cages because they’re too poor to afford apartments or the fact almost 20 percent of HK people are in poverty.

China played Brazil this past Monday and unfortunately it was a slaughter. Neymar’s hattrick helped Brazil maul China 8-0 in a match where China was heavily outclassed. After I saw the result the next day, I was a bit despondent and really, I’m barely hanging on as a China supporter. Nevertheless good old Wild East Football put things in perspective here and it does make the loss a bit more bearable. China played the match in Brazil on Monday, having flown directly from Sweden which they played to a credible 1-0 loss on Friday and they were without several key players, who were from Guangzhou Evergrande and face a tough slate. Guangzhou will play again in the Asian Champions League quarterfinals against Al-Ittihad this Thursday (Guangzhou drew with Dalian Aerbin in domestic action last Thursday). Go Guangzhou Evergrande (广州恒大), fly the flag for Chinese football and make one billion plus people happy.

Finally, out of Japan comes this amazing news. Hurry up, Taiwan girls, go and apply before it’s too late. The lede is really great (no sarcasm) too – “In a country where cuteness is an obsession, the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka boasts that its girls are the cutest of them all.”

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