At night, the neon lights of Taipei 101 shine over the capital. Sometimes, entire floors of the building are enshrouded in clouds, with only the needle at the top of the building exposed. Is this the glory of Taipei?
At night at a crosswalk on Dunhua S Road, there is a beggar bent over on the ground holding an empty jar for pedestrians to throw money in as they walk by. His situation deserves some sympathy. However, sometimes through the thick, cold air I hear some people utter swear words as they pass.
From the era when money flowed into the nation, Taiwan has evolved into a dog-eat-dog society, with strangers crying as others pass them by. To beggars lying on the street, a building that towers in the clouds like Taipei 101 presents a sharp contrast to the glory of the big city, both a bright and dark side.
The 20th century is over. At an art gallery in Cologne, Germany, there is a sub-theme within a 20th-century-themed exhibition that shows both the beauty and dark side of capitalism: Metropolitan areas around the world with glass-covered buildings, luxury and downtown shopping streets standing in contrast to shanty towns and scenes of ragged alleyways.
So what of the beggar on the ground? What of the people who curse them and do not extend a helping hand? This is class-based hate. In a society with extremely unequal wealth distribution, resent takes shape. Is this an issue that can be resolved with a lofty wall of strict preservation? How can one protect oneself, yet deal with the problem?
Taipei’s Dunhua S Road, a boulevard, has commercial skyscrapers lining both of its sides. When former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) was in office, NT$100 million (US$3.19 million) was spent on bike paths along the road despite opposition. Due to their ineffectiveness and alleged traffic problems they caused, the bike paths were abolished. In just a few months, public funds vanished, in the blink of an eye.
That a big city like this has beggars lying on the street at night — what kind of city is this to boast about? After spending such a large amount of taxpayers’ money, in the blink of an eye they splurge even more on a building project.
After spending a fortune, the lights of skyscrapers only reflect the government’s attitude of carelessly wasting money without blinking an eye. The money earned through residents’ blood, sweat and tears is often squandered and wasted by corruption.
Compared with other Taiwanese cities, Taipei, where money is piled high, has a heartless sense of arrogance along with the irony of beggars lying on dark street corners.
When spending money on construction, carefully consider the dark background of a city’s glory when choosing the project’s slogan. Class-based resentment is often repressed in the darkness underneath it all.
Through collusion between big business and government, the wealth gap has widened to the point of unilateralism that is prevalent today. We must not ignore this social phenomenon and we cannot afford to not reflect on this problem.
Lee Min-yung is a poet.
Translated by Zane Kheir
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Toward the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) final term in office, there was much talk about his legacy. Ma himself would likely prefer history books to enshrine his achievements in reducing cross-strait tensions. He might see his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore in 2015 as the high point. However, given his statements in the past few months, he might be remembered more for contributing to the breakup of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). We are still talking about Ma and his legacy because it is inextricably tied to the so-called “1992 consensus” as the bedrock of his