I am going to refrain from discussing Taiwan or U.S. politics on this blog. There are several reasons for this. The first and foremost is that I am a journalist and therefore supposed to strive for some semblance of neutrality in my reporting. Since I am using my full name here, I will extend that policy to this blog, even though it’s not quite journalistic. Second, I have family members who read this blog, and it is a general family policy not to discuss politics because all hell will eventually break loose. Third, there are already tons of blogs out there that discuss Taiwan’s political issues.
But I don’t think it would be too political to say I’m sorry that, after months of negotiations between China and Taiwan, the Olympic torch won’t be coming around Taipei after all. I think it would have helped improve awareness of Taiwan and the various issues surrounding its relationship with China and the rest of the world even more than Taiwan’s participation in the game as Chinese Taipei will, since I’m sure most international spectators will be too focused on their own country’s teams to really play any attention to the various compromises Taiwan has to make in order to compete. I was surprised at how many people I talked to in New York City–people who are college-educated and relatively savvy about international politics–who had no idea what Taiwan is, let alone where it is. Since I have pledged my troth to Taiwan for at least two years and am investing a lot of my time and energy into studying (and eventually working, hopefully) here, it would be nice to have more people within my professional peer group know more about the country and its intriguing place in geopolitics.
One of the reasons I am keeping this blog, aside from keeping in touch with family and friends, is to show anyone else who might stumble upon it what an intriguing, quirky and stimulating place Taiwan is. I want to refrain from writing posts that portray Taiwan as “weird” or “foreign” or “exotic” or “backwards” because it is none of those things to me (certainly not any more weird or foreign or exotic or backwards than New York City was). When I was preparing to leave New York City, there were some people who were doubtful that I’d actually want to go to Taiwan for any reason other than to reunite with Ron. “I bet you’d be happier if Ron would agree to move back to New York City,” one of them actually said to me. Aside from being incredulous that anybody who knows me would think I would hitch up my skirts and go scampering to my fiance whenever he crooks his finger, the comment was also irritating because it belies the enormous professional and personal opportunities I believe I have in Taiwan. Also, I’ve also had people ask me why I decided to move to Taiwan instead of China to learn Mandarin. It’s a valid question, I think, because China is the emerging economy that everyone is focused on. But I have family ties in Taiwan and I wanted to learn traditional Mandarin instead of simplified Mandarin, since it is easier to go down than up. And, frankly, I like democracy. I’d miss Flickr too much if I moved to China.