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

Taiwan’s English-language media gets more digital

Taiwan News cover

This week saw two significant changes to Taiwan’s English-language newspapers. The first was the announcement by the Taiwan News on Tuesday that it would cease publishing a print edition and only be available online.

The paper, established in 1949 as the China News, changed its name to Taiwan News after it was purchased by the I-Mei Corporation in 1999. In January 2008 it changed from a broadsheet to a tabloid format. The final issue was published today. Here’s a quote from the Taiwan News’ own report:

During a press conference yesterday, Taiwan News President Jack Wong announced that the 62-year old newspaper is going digital.

“The unthinkable is finally upon us,” said Wong. “On Tuesday, Sept. 28, Taiwan News will launch the previously impossible integration of text, color images, and sound in a digital multimedia format. It will be the world’s first and log-on is for free.”

In response to the recent global trend toward digital publishing, Taiwan News has switched to an all-online format. “The whole world will witness an electronic newspaper that leaves all others behind in its digital technology and multi-media capabilities,” added Wong.

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Politics and social media in Taiwan

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With local elections approaching the campaign is not just being run on the streets but also in cyberspace. The screen shot from the DPP website above shows the party’s candidates for mayor or county commissioner in the end of year local government elections. Beneath each candidate’s photo there are icons linking to Plurk, Facebook, blogs, websites and YouTube. It shows that candidates are actively using social media as tools in their campaign.

A number of leading DPP politicians including Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) are active users of Plurk. Frank Hsieh has just published a book called “Frank’s Plurk Diary”. He began using Plurk in April this year and now has 11,447 friends and 3,519 fans. Plurk is currently much more popular than Twitter in Taiwan because it has a Chinese-language option. Continue reading

Dalai Lama arrives in Taiwan

The Dalai Lama arrived in Taiwan on a China Airlines flight from Delhi late last night. He was welcomed by Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu before taking a specially chartered high speed train to Kaohsiung. Given the short time frame between the Dalai Lama’s invitation and his arrival in Taiwan it is not surprising there have been some changes to his schedule. However, many of these changes may have been for political rather than practical reasons.

Today’s Liberty Times (自由時報) has an article titled, “Friends of Tibet blames Ma for restricting Dalai Lama’s activities” (台灣圖博批馬 限制達賴活動). I have translated the first part of the article.

The Dalai Lama arrived in Taiwan late last night. Compared to the Dalai Lama’s respects and good wishes, Taiwan’s has shown its hospitality by cancelling the press conference and public speech in Taoyuan. The venue of the public speech in Kaohsiung has also been changed.  Chow Mei-li, President of Taiwan Friends of Tibet, indignantly blamed Ma Ying-jeou for his double-handed tactics. On the one hand he respected public opinion by allowing the Dalai Lama to come, on the other hand he restricted the Dalai Lama’s entire schedule in Taiwan. Chow said, “This is definitely a result of pressure from the Chinese Communist Party. It is becoming more apparent that the Ma government is not acting autonomously, it is not even a good puppet emperor!”

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Typhoon Morakot flooding update

Following on from my post yesterday here is some more information about the damage caused by flooding from Typhoon Morakot (颱風莫拉克).

The Taiwan HSR website says trains are operating every half hour between Taipei and Zuoying today. Taiwan Railways website says there are no trains operating between Xinying and Shanhua in Tainan County. A transfer bus is operating between these two stations. Between Shanhua and Kaohsiung trains are running every 30 minutes. There are no services on the southern link line. A section of the line at Taimali in Taidong County was destroyed and the flooding has affected the foundations of the Linbian River Bridge in Pingdong. Taipei-Hualien-Taitung services are running as normal, but trains to Taidong are stopping at Luye and passengers must transfer to Taitung by bus.

A group of people from the Association of Digital Culture Taiwan (台灣數位文化協會) have established a website called the Morakot Internet Disaster Centre (莫拉克災情網路中心). They are also twittering news at @taiwanfloods and floods at Plurk. All the information is in Chinese so I will try to translate some of it to help give a better picture of the extent of the damage and the situation with providing disaster relief. Continue reading

Typhoon Morakot hits southern Taiwan hard

Typhoon Morakot (颱風莫拉克) hit Taiwan on Friday and Saturday bringing torrential rains that caused serious flooding in the south of Taiwan. It rained throughout most of the day in Taipei on Friday and there were some strong gusts of wind, but no serious damage in the north.

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Media outlets in Taiwan have been reporting the situation in the south as the worst flooding in 50 years. 2,000 millimetres of rain has fallen in parts of Pingdong County. The rainfall charts from the Central Weather Bureau show the rainfall in Taiwan from 6-8 August. Although the typhoon’s intensity has weakened it will continue to bring more rain today and tomorrow.

Taitung County also seems to have suffered some terrible damage. CNA reports that 20 houses were washed into the sea. Freddy Lim tweeted, “Panai sent some news. Morakot brought some torrential rains, Taitung has suffered a terrible disaster. Half of Kimbo Hu’s home village was washed away. Tomorrow’s music festival will be used for fundraising.”  (巴奈傳來消息,莫拉克豪雨襲擊,台東災情慘重,胡德夫的家鄉嘉蘭村流掉一半,明天東海岸音樂節將為賑災募款!) The Taipei Times reports that a 600 metre section of the Southern Link railway and freeway was washed away in Taimali (太麻里), Taidong County. Continue reading

Links across the blogosphere

As announced last week I am no longer posting weekly links. I want to suggest some other ways readers can follow the latest postings in the Taiwan blogosphere. It was great to see The Daily Bubble Tea posting some links to fill the gap.

I am an author at Global Voices Online and regularly post links on the Taiwan page of that site. Global Voices seeks to “aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online” and it provides a unique window into the global blogosphere. I recommend it as a way of discovering blogs from places around the world. Also if you prefer to read Chinese then check the Traditional Chinese page of Global Voices Lingua project which has regular translations of Global Voices articles. Continue reading

517: DPP reclaim the streets

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Hundreds of thousands# of people took to the streets of Taipei and Kaohsiung today for the DPP’s 517 rally. The rally marked the one year anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou taking office. During this time there has been the financial crisis, rising unemployment and concerns that closer ties to China were at the expense of Taiwan’s sovereignty. The event had four themes: safeguarding sovereignty, referendum on ECFA, help for the unemployed and assisting the disadvantaged.

In the days before the protest the DPP created an English language blog (perhaps in response to this criticism). A translation of Tsai Ing-wen’s open letter on the blog provides a clear and eloquent explanation of the rationale for the march. Sometimes the slogans are overly simplistic and don’t fully communicate the issues. Continue reading