Dispatch to London
In contrast to David Pendery’s complaint (“Taiwan, I love you,” Aug. 26, page 8) about the thinness of Chris Wood’s farewell trade-show brochure (“On leaving Taiwan: Britain’s role,” Aug. 23, page 8), I prefer to imagine what the outgoing representative’s valedictory dispatch back to London would look like.
Would Wood review the history of Britain’s interaction with Taiwan, recalling imperial subjects such as James Laidlaw Maxwell and George Leslie Mackay? They established one of the most influential civil society institutions, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.
How about their successor Thomas Barclay, who introduced printing and journalism to Formosa? Remarkably, they achieved these not by being a colonizing power, but through compassion and service.
Would the representative call to mind the Commonwealth prisoners of war in the camps of Kim-koe-chioh — then Kinkaseki — and contemplate how wars over natural resources, egged on by nationalism, can sweep ordinary people — fishing folk, young soldiers — into much suffering, and how similar conflicts are again threatening the nearby seas?
Would he celebrate the contribution of Taiwanese-British citizens? The most prominent among them was the late theologian Ng Chiong-hui (Shoki Coe, 黃彰輝), erstwhile director of the World Council of Churches’ Theological Education Fund. He negotiated the cultural distances as well as the tumultuous circumstances during his life, all the while working for the ecumenical movement and maintaining a personal connection between the two nations.
As for current political realities, would Wood reflect on constitutional reforms, drawing comparisons between the two democracies? Can a moat be kept between free trade and deeper integration? Can first-past-the-post disproportionality be ameliorated with top-up seats? Are referendums competing with parliamentary decisionmaking for legitimacy?
Wood said that his office would continue to promote exchanges about “green” issues and sustainability.
So looking to the future, do the security and ecological implications of nuclear power get a mention in the dispatch, with both Hinkley and Gongliao projects stalled?
Sadly, such dispatches can only be released to the public after many decades, if ever.
For the moment, I can only amuse myself with the 1980s correspondence on the disposal of Fort Santo Domingo, in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水), after it was decommissioned as a British consulate. This has been released and is available on the Web.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Burger King Taiwan on Wednesday last week posted an update on Facebook advertising a new “Wuhan pneumonia” (武漢肺炎) home delivery meal, catering to customers hankering for a Whopper, but who wished to avoid visiting one of its outlets. “Wuhan pneumonia” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to describe COVID-19. Beijing has been waging an extensive propaganda campaign against the use of the words “Wuhan” or “China” in reference to the novel coronavirus, calling it racist and discriminatory. Meanwhile, Chinese officials have claimed that the coronavirus might have originated in the US. The intention is obvious: to distract attention from the Chinese Communist