Taiwan Blog 8: Reflection on this Semester

Throughout all of the wonderful guest lectures we were able to have this semester, my absolute favorites were Joe Erb’s discussion of his work with the Cheslatta and Sherry Mariea’s talk about global women’s issues. Both were not only informative, but inspiring and really changed my view of different cultures around the world and how their people interact with one another.

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Joe Erb’s was probably the most informative for me and challenged my perspective of the removal of native peoples across North America – and even the world. What made them so interesting is not the way the interact with people who are not Cheslatta – but the way they interact with the physical space they call their own. How they view the lake as sacred and an entity as real as themselves is so different from how modern western nations treat land and the space they live. For the Cheslatta, it is part of their identity as a people, almost like a member of a family. If it is well, then they are well, if it is harmed, then they are harmed. It really changes the way I think about the space around me and my “places” in relation to myself and others around me. Displacement of native peoples around the world can be so much more damaging to their identity and the culture they have created than we would think with our western view of place.

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Sherry Mariea was a really interesting lecture to me and very inspiring to me as a woman. What she said about how other cultures treat their women just because it was a cultural norm challenged the way I view women’s rights around the world. There’s not just a big western switch you can flip in some of the eastern nations that are known for high misogyny. The way they treat women is part of their culture, and many women don’t see anything wrong with how they are treated in this area too because of that. In a video we watched, women and men were proud of the beatings they received and gave within their marriages. Here that would be shunned on unimaginable levels. It really shifts the way I think worldwide women’s rights should be approached and the ways we discuss these issues with each other and the nations it is effecting.

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Throughout the semester I learned a lot about Taiwan and the way they interact with the world. Through guest lectures, in-class discussions and my own research it amazed me how much I learned about Taiwan’s relationship with not only its Eastern neighbors but the Western world as well. China has had an extremely interesting hold over Taiwan and its assets since the mid twentieth century, which really affects how it interacts with other nations. While it attempts to participate in world events economically, politically, and socially, China has stood as a political barricade for years now. Taiwan cannot participate in any UN projects under its own government because it was removed from the worldwide organization based on China’s position on its sovereignty. That means even humanitarian issues that Taiwan wishes to aid with are left to everyone else while Taiwan’s contributions are turned away.

07d06e0fb9f3f19a0b6ee32089866d5d9d947dd4Politically, the Taiwanese president cannot even call the president of the United States without China bringing down its hammer on the both of them. Economically, Taiwan cannot get out from under China even if it wanted to, as China is Taiwan’s largest export market in the world. If they pulled their support, it would spell economic doom for Taiwan. And eve if Taiwan wanted to branch out and make political and economic connections elsewhere, China will not allow it by using its own trade with those countries as a threat as well. Despite these shortcomings, Taiwan still strives to make itself heard throughout the world and be a globalized country through its humanitarian work, its economic success, and its growing political and social advances.

Blog #7: Taiwan – An Epicenter of Trafficking

Taiwan is sadly a significantly large hub for human trafficking of men, women and
children. In Taiwan, though, sex trafficking is only a portion of the human trafficking that takes place – another largely utilized form is forced labor. Taiwan is the epicenter of women being trafficked around the world, including Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Most of the victims are migrant workers from Indonesia, mainland China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as Bangladesh and India. The sex slavery in Taiwan is typically facilitated through fraudulent marriages, as well as auctions to sex traffickers that result in their being brought into the commercial sex industry.   Those who are trafficked through Taiwan live in extremely poor conditions, make little to no money, and are often confined to small spaces that they are not allowed to leave.

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In January, 10 female sex workers were found in Kaohsiung, Taiwan living trapped in a 33-square-meter dorm room. They were migrant workers from Indonesia and the Philippines , and said they did not know the work they were going to be forced into until after they arrived. They had originally believed they had been recruited to dance in night clubs. They were constantly fined for minor “infractions,” such as being above a certain weight, and were expected to pay a significant amount of money in rent a month. In order to pay back their debt, they were “encouraged” to work as escorts, thus began their sexual slavery. Foreign workers like these are only ten of some 40,000 migrant workers that have gone missing in the last year, making up over 8 percent of all migrant workers in Taiwan. It is believed that majority of these people have fallen into some kind of human trafficking.

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While most women end up in the sex trafficking industry, thousands of men fall victim to labor trafficking in Taiwan as well, which is the most largely unprosecuted form of trafficking in Taiwan.  Most of these workers are in the fishing industry, as well as construction and manufacturing, all making little to no wages and living in poor conditions with no food and frequent physical abuse. In some cases, Taiwanese authorities have a significant oversight when it comes to labor trafficking. When they identify traffickers, they have the ability to request an arrest warrant from international bodies, such as Interpol, but fail to, or, “seem not to want to pursue it because it might shed light on the illegal/unregulated fishing activities, many of which bring in massive amounts of money,” according to Huffington Post.

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The United Nations Development Programme set forth Sustainable Development Goals in 2016 in order to address many issues plaguing the world, one of which is Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking is directly and indirectly mentioned in Goals 5, 8, and 16.

Goal 5 addresses Gender Equality, in which both sex trafficking is addressed. Some of its root causes such as having prostitution and forced marriages legal are also mentioned, both of which are heavily utilized in Taiwan in order to trick women into sex trafficking. Others include:

  • “Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies
  • Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources.”

It is through these forms of economic equality that fewer women will fall victim to the trafficking experienced by women who come to Taiwan for work. Furthermore, Goal 8 addresses Decent Work and Economic Growth, in which another root of not only sex trafficking but also human trafficking is addressed, including:

  • “Full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour
  • Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.”

By ensuring this rights of labor workers, women and men can seek employment within their own countries as well as migrant worker in places like Taiwan with less fear of falling victim to sex trafficking and poor working conditions. These conditions would be upheld by authorities more thoroughly and prevent the mistreatment of migrant workers, trafficked or not. Following the actions of authorities, Goal 16 addresses Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

This goal directly addresses the end of all forms of human trafficking by governments and institutions. It also calls for equal access to justice, which those who have fallen victim to trafficking could heavily utilize. The  reduction of corruption, the transparency of institutions, as well as the provision of legal identity for all would also improve the ability of victims of traffickers to seek freedom and justice.

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Despite its challenges, Taiwan has been awarded for the sixth year in a row a rank of Tier 1 from the United States State Department for its efforts to end human trafficking in the country. Taiwan has done a job on par with only South Korea to, “prevent human trafficking, protect victims and prosecute offenders.” While there is always more work to do as long as trafficking exists, Taiwan is doing much better than many other South Asian countries as far as attempting to bring justice to all of those who deserve it in the world of human trafficking.

Blog Post #6: NGOs and Taiwan

The main concern that Linda Polman raises in her book Crisis Caravan is that so many non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, go unchecked by the privileged ones who support and send them around the world. Polman urges people to continue to question NGOs, and to start if they aren’t already. Many of them go unchecked when it comes to how they use the money they receive and the ethics of how they’re providing for those perceived to be in need of assistance.

Another main concern is how the aided communities will fair after the NGO inevitably moves on to another community. If it’s not considered properly, they can leave communities worse off than they were before the NGO came in. Furthermore, thousands of dollars can go to waste if an NGO either misuses, or does not properly monitor its funds. Because there isn’t really any umbrella bodies to watch out for these kinds of discretions, she calls on people to be questioning and policing NGOs on behalf of the world.

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Taiwan is a very fertile growing ground for NGOs, as it has been dubbed practically a “miracle” for its “model of democracy and a flourishing open society conducive to the vibrant growth of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).” Because of their position as a political outsider in the modern world (thanks to its relationship with China), it has made efforts through NGOs to, “engage in international cooperation and international humanitarian aid, in other words, promote people-to-people diplomacy.” In North America Taiwan has 6 NGOS, 58 in South America, 10 in Europe, 76 in Africa, 29 in West Asia, 1 in Oceania, and 176 in East Asia.

In Taiwan recently, NGOs have been called to speak about particularly workers rights, corruption. One Taiwanese NGO was also banned from the UN by China, emphasizing China’s power over Taiwan.

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One of the most controversial news in Taiwan right now has been human rights violations concerning foreign workers in Taiwan, as alleged in the U.S. Department of State’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016.” The country has been accused of high volumes of human trafficking being used for labor throughout Taiwan. These foreign workers are being brought in becoming victims of coercion under threat of deportation, sexual harassment and assault, and poor working conditions. NGOs have been keeping track of and funding campaigns against the violations that take place. Some have “advocated lifting restrictions on foreign workers voluntarily transferring their contracts to different employers.”

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A Belgian NGO is currently fighting corruption in Taiwan. They performed a study in the Asia-Pacific region and found that those who are more likely to pay bribes are wealthier, and are mostly used to influence public education and utilities. Majority of people felt the government wasn’t doing enough to fight corruption, but didn’t feel that corruption was increasing.

NGO’s may not be known for being corrupt themselves but they know how to follow the money wherever they go. Polman said in her book, “Aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Teresa” (p. 177). What Polman means by this is they go wherever the money is under the mission of assisting whoever is there. However, once the money is no longer flowing toward that location, they move elsewhere. She calls this “contract fever.” This is highly problematic because it provides less incentive to make sure the work they are doing there is actually helping, because they’re getting money no matter if what, they just have to have publicity-worthy assistance wherever they are.

This publicity means that journalists, as well as the public and governments, need to be watchdogs when it comes to NGO’s. Because helping people is great and great publicity, many don’t think to look at how some NGO’s can be problematic. If they’re seen doing so much good, how could they possibly be bad? Polman says that journalist are actually guilty of reinforcing contract fever and corruption within NGO’s – reinforcing the mentality of going wherever the money is and getting a few publishable photos of them doing so to encourage more donations. She calls on the public, governments, and journalists to keep NGO’s accountable for what they’re doing.

For Taiwan, though, China’s government has been a major roadblock in some of their international work, as China blocked and NGO working to help treat rare diseases from operating through the United Nations. China objected to their speaking at a UN event moments before it was supposed to take place, barring them from doing so. According to the Taipei Times, “The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday condemned China’s behavior as ‘very unreasonable.'” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered its apologies, but its hands were tied by China’s hold over Taiwan. This definitely calls into question the power of non-governmental organizations, when the Chinese government is able to blockade them simply because their country of origin.

Blog Post #5: Taiwan’s struggle to maintain human and environmental rights

Taiwan’s government is recently becoming one of the more progressive Asian nations in recognizing its citizens human rights. Just this spring, it is debating legalizing same-sex marriage, and doing so would make it the first asian nation to recognize the union of same sex couples. Taiwan has had a difficult run with human rights, though, both in its past and as recently as yesterday. 1896_map_of_Taiwan.png

Throughout its struggle for independence from other Asian powers, the Taiwanese people have been denied their human rights in effort to make them more submissive and cooperative of first Japan, and then China. While under the control of the Japanese, they were educated and ruled under the idea of assimilation and the attempt to “fully Japanize Taiwan.

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maintain their Taiwanese culture in spite of China’s assimilatory efforts.

China heavily enforced the idea Noor introduced to us, the “Asian Values” argument. In Taiwan’s case, the idea of Asian values not only impacted the human rights of its people, but also its environment. The Chinese held that “political and cultural traditions of Asia justify a certain degree of autocratic rule to enable the rapid economic development of society” within Taiwan. Several Taiwanese scholars and even former leaders, such as former President Lee Teng-hui argue that “asian values” is just a nicer way of explaining the suppression of human rights, such as freedom of speech. The fact that Taiwan and other democratic asian societies (such as Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong) have thrived is a common criticism of “asian values,” because these societies have rejected the phrase and the mentality it supports.

The rapid economic development of countries like Taiwan without regard for the environment has caused a significant amount of pollution. The air is barely breathable in many of Taiwan’s major cities, and is almost always above levels that are healthy to breathe. However, Taiwan’s expanded human rights agreements and furthered efforts to ensure the freedom of speech of its citizens has allowed Taiwanese people to protest the quality of its air and the need for environmental change. These protests include those I mentioned in my blog post #4. Recently, the people of Taiwan have held protests in efforts to secure better worker’s rights and the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

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Dr. Elizabeth Lindsay mentioned that we live in a world that is “posturing before false gods of consumption and commerce,” which has led to ignorance of both non-European cultures and of the environment. This is where Taiwan finds itself, now having to address not only the environmental decay their country is in, but the newfound political stamina to combat human rights violations and attempt to progress beyond both issues.

ungenassbly.jpgAs of March 2010, Taiwan did ratify an international human rights covenant, called the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.” However, because the ROC (Taiwan) lost its seat at the UN in 1971, and China never ratified the covenant, the UN rejected  Taiwan’s deposit.

Most recently on Taiwan’s human rights plate is a March 4th report from the US which cites a violations of worker’s right and corruption by Taiwanese officials. While these were the top concerns of the report, other violations during 2016 included, “some media self-censorship with regard to China, vote buying, violations of legal working hours, lack of barrier-free spaces and accessible transportation systems for persons with disabilities, particularly outside Taipei, gender-biased sex selection, and a rise in child abuse.” So far this year before this report was even released, Taiwan has seen several protests for worker’s rights, particularly in regard to denied time off and strikes by transportation workers.

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According to spokesperson Sidney Lin, in response to the report, “President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is firmly committed to the protection of workers’ rights and interests and has already made several regulatory changes in that regard.” The government has implemented a maximum 40-hour work week, and has made efforts to improve the conditions of workers within the industrial sector. Lin also noted Taiwan’s efforts to adopt international human rights legislation and the steps it has taken to enforce the laws.

 

Blog Post #4: Pollution and Activism in Taiwan

Considering the state of the world, the proven increase in fossil fuels entering our atmosphere and the resulting warming of the world (i.e. global warming), the first step countries must make is moving away from these toxins. Larger world powers should be the first to take these steps, as they are the largest contributors to the emissions of fossil fuels and other atmospheric-destructive gases. This includes moving toward electric transportation and natural gathering of said electricity. The use of hydro-electric power plants, wind turbines and solar panels would highly decrease the release of toxins because “emissions associated with renewable energy—including manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance, and dismantling and decommissioning—are minimal,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, citing data gathered by the International Panel on Climate Change.

International entities such as the United Nations has made several efforts to battle the causes of climate change amongst its members, though not all have succeeded. The most recent was held in 2015 in Paris, France, though was not celebrated by many due to its lack of a binding agreement, only “promises.”

Taiwan was left out of these negotiations, as well as all foreseeable negotiations in the future due to its relationship beside (or under) China. Many believed it should be part of the discussions as its air quality and amount of emissions is considerably high and borderline out of control. Just in February, the Taiwanese Environmental Protection Agency has warned that air quality is at an status of being unhealthy for residents of Southern and Central Taiwan, Western Taiwan and a new study found that warming waters were hitting native species hard. One study found that the increase of deaths related to air pollution in Southern Taiwan has increased by 12 percent.

Despite it’s lack of a presence on the international stage, forces within Taiwan are banding together to fight the rise in pollution in their country. Thousands of protesters came together in the cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung to protest climate change and anyone who doubts its existence. They specifically targeted the government in their calls for something to be done about the consistently poor air quality throughout the country.

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The 350 Organization, an organization actively “building a global climate movement,” is active in Taiwan and holds an event in Taipei, Kaohsiung called “Taiwan Power Shift.” The event is for young environmentalists to learn how they can contribute to the global movement within their own regions of Taiwan.

Taiwan has succeeded in some advancements technologically when it comes to fighting climate change. Taiwanese scientists created technology to cut down on agricultural waste by converting it into bioethanol. Those pellets can then be used as fuel, which can be used to reduce waste and improve air quality throughout the region. Companies are also taking the steps to use renewable energy to run their plants. One in particular, I-Mei Foods, was crowned Taiwan’s leader in green power buying in January and February this year. Other companies on the list of companies taking significant advantage of green power include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Chunghwa Telecom Co. I-Mei Foods also founded I-Mei Environmental Protection Foundation over 20 years ago, which funds protection for the endangered Siberian Tiger and also sponsors projects by Dr. Jane Goodall and nesting programs for local green sea turtles.

Blog Post #3: Injustices within and toward Taiwan

Nationalism plays a huge role in the way that Taiwan is currently fighting for representation on a world stage. The country has a very nationalist perspective of itself because of its lack of recognition by major world powers.  This comes from 160114033413-taiwan-election-one-china-rivers-jiang-pkg-00003623-large-169.jpgChina’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, and pledge to end diplomatic ties with anyone
who does not recognize their sovereignty. In 1992, Taiwan came to a consensus, which many in Taiwan are hesitant to uphold today, that maintains their relationship and acknowledge’s the “One China” policy I mentioned in Blog Post 1.

As we discussed in Thursday’s class, nationalism is defined as viewing unity and cultural backgrounds as more important in a nation-state. Being nationalist is valuing independence and domination of a nation and having love for one’s country in a very political way. Because it has to fight for recognition from other powerful states in the world, Taiwan has a very strong sense of nationalism, and most of its top political leaders, especially its president, are very nationalist in how they address their country amidst these issues.

President Tsai’s election on a very nationalist platform actually very directly interrupted ties between China and Taiwan, and led to China briefly halting all cross-strait communication to show its displeasure with her anti-One China sentiments.

Protesters from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party hold placards during march against the upcoming Taiwan and China cross strait talks in Taichung

Taiwan fights for its individualism as a state – though it has not yet formally declared its independence from China due to a threat of military force by China to formally make Taiwan an official territory. China has flexed its military muscle several times in the past and even as recently as January of this year. Taiwan’s hesitation, though smart in that it 80ABF1BE-BD32-46AD-A0A3-AD761A34185D_cx0_cy5_cw0_w1023_r1_s.jpgavoids conflict, may weaken its sense nationalism. Despite its hesitation, its relationship with China is weakening thus far in 2017.

Externally, Taiwan is increasing efforts to be economically stable without China, attempting to deepen ties with other East-Asian countries. This proves difficult, however, as one one formally recognizes Taiwan. Accordingly, “A lack of diplomatic relations means Taiwanese companies cannot benefit from the bilateral trade agreements or tax and investment treaties that help their multinational rivals invest overseas,” (Today Online). This economic independence from China is crucial for its overall independence and the furtherance of its nationalist agenda. Its lack of diplomatic ties with other countries and those countries’ strong avoidance of such ties makes it very difficult for Taiwan to gain any kind of independence at all.

Due to its very complicated fight for equality with other nation-states on an international scale, Taiwan is progressing in its attempt for equality within its own borders. President Tsai has made several actions recently  to fight inequality toward indigenous peoples and same-sex marriage. This year alone, a legislative committee in Taiwan’s government has approved a marriage equality bill, making it of the first in East Asia to take significant steps toward equality for same-sex marriage.  Though they are in a parliamentary recess currently, discussion of the bill is set to resume in April or May, and has significant support despite the generally divided country-wide opinion on it.

Last August, President Tsai began turning Taiwan’s attitude toward an “apologetic” one concerning its aboriginal peoples. The president issued a formal apology on behalf of the government toward the many indigenous peoples of Taiwan for how they have been treated in the past.

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Many modern governments are attempting to make amends with their indigenous people, which we discussed in Tuesday’s lecture through the lens of Canada and on of their indigenous groups, the Cheslatta. Like the Cheslatta, the Taiwanese aboriginal people are not technologically advanced and deeply rooted in tradition and place, which has allowed in the past for the Taiwanese government to bully them into submission to make room for the industrial, modern society to grow and flourish. The apology issued by President Tsai is, according to her, just the beginning of the efforts Taiwan will make to make amends for the years of this treatment.

Taiwan’s position concerning labor rights has been a bit rocky recently, though. Several large protests have taken place this year alone including a flash dance mob held on February 12 of 2017 and a rail worker’s strike in late January. The strike by workers the Taiwan Railways Administration halted operations in many major railway stations throughout Taiwan as hundreds of workers a day went on strike to bring to light the injustices they were experiencing. Many of the workers were being denied time off, even for the Chinese New Year holiday, which all workers are supposed to be guaranteed the right to do.

The dance flash mob took place to highlight the injustices women face in the work place, especially sexually violent injustices. The movement, which is taking place on an 201702120010t0001international level, is called “One
Billion Rising.” Organizers said their dances were intended to “showcase control over their own bodies and call for the government to protect their rights and interests,” (Focus Taiwan). Furthermore, they urged Taiwan’s government to take workers rights and issues more seriously in the coming year.

Post #2 – Taiwan’s past and semi-existent present

Taiwan is a country that has more or less lost its own identity in recent history. The country is not very much even a country anymore, but simply a Republic of China. By this, I mean that while it is a self-ruling, technically independent state, it’s complicated past and present relationship with China has changed the way the world views it today. It is categorized on many official websites as being a state under China’s sovereignty, though many in the nation are fighting to retain its independence. While it its government used to be what ruled over the entirety of China, formerly known as the Republic of China (ROC), China’s communist rule, known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC), forced it out to the island of Taiwan. There it has remained it’s own country despite the fact that the PRC considers it as somewhat of a territory and refuses diplomacy with any country that recognizes the ROC that governs it. Thus, it has lost several aspects its identity amidst its complex relationship with China.

For example, it is no longer recognized as a member of the UN as of 1971, out of respect of China.

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However,  Taiwan does still has a representative in the United States fighting to regain its recognition on the international playing field. Joanne Ou (pictured above) is the director of Taiwan’s United Nations Task Force. The task force’s mission is to fight to get Taiwan a seat once again at the United Nations, amongst other international organizations.

Taiwan is also no longer a member of the International Monetary Fund as an independent state-actor, though it does still report on its economic growth or decline. Last year, the IMF reported that Taiwan’s economic growth had decreased by 0.5 percent, from 1.5 to about 1 this year and 1.7 the next year, respectively, according to a Taiwanese source.

And thirdly, the World Trade Organization also only somewhat recognizes Taiwan, though it previously only mentioned it under the wing of China. In 2001 it successfully concluded negotiation of including Taiwan in the WTO as a Separate Customs Territory.

Another example of how China has all but overtaken Taiwan internationally, is that though 70% of native Taiwanese people speak its native language, Hokkien, the official language of the nation is Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin was spoken by persons and families of those who emigrated from China to Taiwan after it became a republic of China. In the late 1940’s-50’s, it was the official sanctioned medium of instruction in Taiwanese schools, and is today universally understood and spoken throughout Taiwan.

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There were many aboriginal tribes that were the original inhabitants of Taiwan, and each tribe spoke its own language. The areas inhabited by each tribe and the languages they spoke are shown above on the map. According to Taiwan News, Taiwan is home to over 20 living languages today, including some of those aboriginal languages. Taiwan also offers foreign languages as subjects in schools across the republic, most recently including Vietnamese.

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Language is very influential in Taiwan, as it hosts so many languages in such a small space. Many of its students and citizens are bilingual, learning languages from home, the standard Mandarin, and foreign languages in school.

Despite its unstable relationship with China on both a national scale and international scale, Taiwan and its people still do much work to retain its individuality. Though it hasn’t offered much success in the past, efforts have not halted to put Taiwan on a global scale in both its presence in international organizations and its classrooms, educating children to speak the words of their ancestors and the neighbors around them.

Post #1: What’s happening now in Taiwan

The new year has just begun for Taiwan as of January 28th, kicking off the Lunar Year of the Rooster. The new year is based on the Chinese zodiac calendar, and is celebrated in in both China and Taiwan, which is officially known as the Republic of China. For those who are not aware, Taiwan is an official republic of China which China has repeatedly claimed sovereignty over.

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BBC News – US and Canada

This was briefly a hot topic of international news in recent months as the, then-president-elect, now-President of the United States, Donald Trump, turned his back on 4 years of diplomatic policy with China and tweeted about a congratulatory phone call he received from “The President of Taiwan.” The tweet was a slap in the face to China, who had, for decades, had an understanding with the United States and almost all other foreign powers that Taiwan did not have its own legitimate government, but was solely a republic of China under its “One China” concept. A spokeswoman from the Trump transition team recently said, however, that neither Trump nor anyone from the transition team  will be meeting with Taiwan’s president during her upcoming stops in the Americas.

Lots of international news is currently surrounding President Trump and his recent Executive Orders, which severely limited and partially halted immigration into the United States. One news source in Taiwan, The China Post, reassures that “visitors to the United States entering under the Taiwan-U.S. visa waiver would not be affected by a recent change in US immigration policy.”

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Taipei Times

While it’s keeping its eye on new changes due to the Trump administration – as is the rest of the world – it’s relationship with/within China does not seem significantly strained as of late, and the economy is on the up. There was one issue at the very start of the Lunar New Year, when the Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted a happy new year message in Japanese and English, which many Chinese nationals took offense to. I am also interested in President Tsai Ing-wen’s role in foreign affairs and her role in the up keeping of the “One China” concept.

Transportation within Taiwan has been rocky recently, especially with increased traffic during the Lunar New Year weekend. The photo on the right is from the Focus Taiwan News Channel, who is reporting restrictions that will be in place on the Taiwan’s main Freeways No. 1 and No. 3 on Monday and Tuesday due to increased New Year traffic. Only vehicles with 3 or more people, or vehicles containing pregnant or disabled peoples, will be allowed to use the freeways from 9am-2pm both days.

The second image above is that of a closed railway ticket booth due to major strikes held by employees of the Taiwan Railway Administrations (TRA). Over 500 employees per day refused to work in protest of working conditions over the Lunar New Year. The absence of the employees caused confusion and stalling at ticket booths and station operations. the TRA says that it is currently in negotiations with the union members on strike to meet their demands for better bonuses and to hire more workers.

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The China Post

Air quality continues to be an issue for Eastern-Asian metropolitan areas, particularly the western side of Taiwan this weekend. The EPA reported low air quality which resulted from a lack of wind in that region of the country, which is necessary to disperse the usual toxins in the air. The country measures the amount of toxins by PM’s, or fine particulate matter present in the air. Values ranged from 8-10 in areas that usually measure around 2.5, which is still considered extremely high. Levels at 7 and above are deemed dangerous enough to cause noticeable discomfort and health problems.

Taiwan’s economy is continuing to see stable growth for the sixth month in a row according to Taiwan News. While the National Development Council says it is closely monitoring the effects of the new Trump administration’s trade policies’ and Brexit’s effects on the nation’s economy, it expects the growth to remain stable for the rest of the year.

Despite the nation’s environmental and transportation problems, Taiwan seems to be in pretty mild water both internally and internationally. It will be interesting to see if and  how the pollution and transportation problems it is facing, as well as the Trump administration’s actions, will affect the nation over the next few months.