After almost four centuries of being plundered and imposed upon by various foreign powers, you could forgive the average Taiwanese for being a little xenophobic. But we are a friendly bunch in general, and we don't mind helping out the old "big noses" if they are having trouble buying a pack of LongLifes in the local 7-Eleven or 10 dumplings at a roadside stall.
However, this kind of behavior may have to come to an end soon, as it seems as if the global community is getting the wrong impression of "Ilha Formosa."
It appears as if my beloved homeland, like my gal, Cathy Pacific -- until she met me of course -- has developed a reputation for being easy, a sort of Sisy Chen (陳文茜) of the international community.
Why, only last week there was a story on the China Post's Web site entitled "Dominican Republic considers relations with China," in which Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso was quoted as saying: "We are going to look at Taiwan's offers and we will see if Taiwan or China is better for the Dominican Republic."
Which, literally translated, means: "We will establish or keep relations with whoever offers us the most cash."
What cheek. And this is one of our supposedly long-term diplomatic "friends." With friends like these, who needs enemies?
This story was quickly followed by a piece from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "Northern Marianas looks to Taiwan for investment," talking about the governor of Saipan -- which isn't even a bloody country -- coming here looking for cash.
Then I noticed an article in The Hindu entitled "Hu to press Bush to contain Taiwan independence bid," concerning relations between the US, China and Taiwan, in which Taiwan is referred to as the "cash-rich island."
This got me worried, as with word traveling to India that Taiwan is loaded and a soft touch, don't expect it to be too long before some mysterious swami turns up in Taipei claiming to be a relative of Mahatma Gandhi and a representative of the Indian government, before walking out of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a suitcase full of cash in return for promises of re-establishing diplomatic relations with India, getting Taiwan into the WHO and making China's 800 missiles disappear.
While we are on the subject of sad old farts on foreign journeys, I couldn't write this week's column without a mention of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) trip to China.
But that's about all I want to say about it, as the wire copy about his trip was about as unremarkable as the man himself. But then what do you expect from someone who can put a political rally to sleep from a distance of 100 paces?
Lien's toadying to the Chinese leadership and his refusal to acknowledge the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) while visiting China would make old Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) turn in his grave -- if he had one.
I once went to Beijing on a short break with old Mama Neihu, but I didn't like it one bit. First of all, there was the language barrier. Everyone there rolled their "r's" so much it sounded like I was in a cheap western. Come to think of it, and since watching Ang Lee's (李安) latest flick, maybe that's why everyone kept calling me "comrade" (most worrying for a red-blooded Taiwanese male like myself).