Book review: Why China Will Never Rule the World

In the introduction to Why China Will Never Rule the World author Troy Parfitt sets out his motivation for writing the book. Neither academic nor journalist, he simply wants to see things for himself. However, Parfitt does not arrive in China as a naive foreigner. Instead he has already spent more than a decade living on the periphery of China in Taiwan and South Korea. This experience, combined with the author’s Mandarin speaking ability, gives the book a refreshing perspective that differentiates it from other travel books about China.

Parfitt’s journey begins in Hong Kong, another place that is on the periphery of China. It is both part of China, yet distinctly different. The opening chapters about Hong Kong and Macau provide a good counterpoint when the author’s exploration of China proper begins. Continue reading

Falun Gong protests arrival of ‘CCP villain’ in Taichung

Falun Gong protesters in Taichung

Several dozen members of Falun Gong (aka Falun Dafa) protested the arrival of Chen Zhenggao (陳政高), the governor of Liaoning Province, in Taichung this afternoon. The protesters shouted, “Chen Zhenggao, you’ve been accused, stop persecuting Falun Gong” (陳政高,你被告了,停止迫害法輪功). According to a Falun Gong website 409 Falun Gong practitioners have died as a result of persecution in Liaoning Province. Continue reading

Taiwan’s reaction to Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize

Liu XiaoboThe Nobel Committee has awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Taiwan’s Central News Agency (中央社) reports that Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia (劉霞), said in response to the news that she hopes Liu can be released from prison soon, but she felt the news was somewhat ironic.

Several days ago in the lead up to the announcement of the prize, the Taipei Society urged the Nobel Committee to award the prize to Liu Xiaobo. According the the CNA report the Society said that, “a Nobel Peace Prize for Liu would mean not only recognition of his long-term dedication to human rights and democratic reforms in China, but would also send a clear message to the Chinese communist regime that the world stands in solidarity with Chinese people who share Liu’s vision for a strong, prosperous and democratic China that respects individual freedom and human rights.”  Continue reading

A tale of two nations

It might seem hard to imagine now but 20 years ago there were many similarities between the political situation in Taiwan and China. Both countries had an authoritarian polity with strict controls on freedom of speech. On university campuses the party-state (KMT or CCP) maintained tight control over student organisations and political activities. The situation in Taiwan was less repressive and there was a formal opposition movement in the DPP.

In The Perils of Protest, Teresa Wright makes a comparative study of the 1989 student protests in Beijing and the March 1990 Wild Lily Student Movement in Taipei. She examines in detail the organisational and decision making behaviour of the students. The actions taken by the students in Beijing and Taipei had many similarities including the launching of hunger strikes and separation of students from non-students during protests. Continue reading

Taiwanese should support democracy in China

A few months ago I wrote about Charter 08 and its relevance to Taiwan. With the 20th anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square Massacre approaching the issue of democracy in China is again in the spotlight.

Chinese democracy activist Wang Dan (王丹) has recently accepted a teaching position at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University (政治大學). Wang was one of the leaders of the student movement during the 1989 protests in Beijing. He spoke at a seminar in Taipei yesterday. The Taipei Times reports: Continue reading

Wang Wen rock Underworld


Chinese band Wang Wen (惘聞) played their first gig in Taipei last night at Underworld (地下社會) in Shi-Da Road. Hailing from Dalian, Wang Wen are in Taiwan as part of the PUTS Sound 8, a documentary film and music festival.


Wang Wen’s sound not only evokes the spirit of Sonic Youth, they also employ some unorthodox guitar playing methods, such as using electric fans and screwdrivers, to create unique sounds. They create an intense “wall of sound” effect in their mostly instrumental numbers. Continue reading

Charter 08 and Taiwan

Charter 08 (零八憲章) is a document signed by a group of Chinese activists and intellectualls calling for political reform, human rights and democracy in China. It was released on 10 December, Human Rights Day. A full English translation of the Charter was published in The New York Review of Books.

The Taiwan News has made the Charter the subject of its editorial today. In relation to the Charter’s reference to Taiwan the editorial says:

Charter 08’s advocation regarding the “Taiwan question” is contained in its call to transform the PRC, including Hong Kong, Macau and other “national minority” areas, presumably including Tibet, into a “Chinese federated republic under a democratic constitutional structure.”

“Based on the premises of freedom and democracy, we should engage in negotiations based on equality and cooperative interaction to search for a formula for reconciliation across the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” the Charter declares.

Unfortunately, “Charter 08” seems to be unable to transcend “great Chinese nationalism” as its implied commitment to eventual unification seems to share the CCP’s rejection of the free right of choice of Taiwan’s 23 million people, not to mention the people of Tibet or even Hong Kong and Macau. Continue reading