Thursday, February 16, 2012

Let Freedom Ring

*ok so, I KNOW that I said that my next entry would be about Thailand, but this has been on my mind for awhile. Thailand entry is soon I promise.  That Thailand entry is gonna be like good beef stew, even more amazing when it's been in the fridge and eaten cold a few days (weeks?) later. I promise. :) *

ALSO- I want to say that, the Chinese PEOPLE have been really wonderful and kind in general here. I've met GOOD people.  Being "Pro-Taiwan" doesn't mean that I'm "Anti-CHINA" ...I'm not "Anti-Chinese People".  I just don't like the government and the way that the government manipulates the people and the propaganda they put out. I don't like the censorship. Really, my day-to day experience has been very "middle America" here. Shopping Malls and Starbucks. It's not a "bad place", but I think that the Chinese people have the chance to step up and make it a better place..

ok, so that being said ...

I've never been to Taiwan.
I don't even think I've ever eaten Taiwanese food.
I can't tell you how to say anything in Taiwanese.

But I AM completely 100% Pro-Taiwan independence.
Like firm, undeniable,"the emperor is wearing no clothes" type obvious support.

I feel like it's time to write a blog post about it just because I feel like I post about it a lot on Facebook. Or maybe I don't. Maybe it's just because I follow "I Am Taiwanese, Not Chinese" and "Keep Taiwan Free" and I see so many things about it in my Facebook news feed. Either way, it's on my mind a lot.

Before coming to China, before thinking about coming to China, about a year and a half ago, I didn't know much ( and still don't know a whole lot) about "Forumosa" -  aka Taiwan ( another name that Taiwan goes by - it's Portuguese for "Beautiful Island". I know that.). I think I thought that it WAS a part of China. But kind of the way that "The US Virgin Islands" are part of "the US". I didn't think it was a "big deal" either way. I didn't know how differently and strongly both sides felt about Taiwan's "independence" and then I started to read and to listen and to see .... and I started to care.

Here are the facts:
Taiwan is a Democratic Country ( China is Communist)
Taiwan holds its own elections and has its own currency, flag, army, and government.
Taiwan does NOT have a seat at the UN and so is blocked from becoming fully recognized as an independent country.

That is all that I know for now. I know that President Ma just got re-elected. I know that he is trying to maintain friendly relations with China ( his opponent was very ... "Anti-China" and I think she could have made relations and any attempt at further independence ... worse.)

I DON'T know why China is so hell-bent on holding onto Taiwan. Claiming it. It's not even landlocked like Tibet is. Taiwan is a tiny little island .... just trying to "do it's own thing" in this big world.

My attitude is "if you wanna be free, be free". This applies to anyone/anything. If you have the money and resources and your own centralized government set up and happy inhabitants on your little island ... if you feel that you are just TOO different from the "other country" that is claiming you, then go and support yourself and BE FREE. I would feel the same way about Texas or California  or any other state that wanted to secede from the USA. Yes, I'm sure it would suck in some ways economically for the rest of us, the other states in the US - if we lost Silicon Valley and ... whatever else.

But I identify with Taiwan completely - and thank goodness no one has asked me my opinion here in mainland China because I would never deny it. I would probably say it nicely and quietly but I would not deny it. (Sometimes it's like that - when something is TOO true in my gut, I just can't deny it- like when my boss and I were talking about "boyfriends"... and I trailed off with "actually.. I date women.")

I feel a "kinship" with Taiwan. I feel like I can completely relate. My family is predominantly Irish ( a "small island" in Europe) and American. Both Ireland and America were once "owned" ( and not treated very nicely!) by England. But today .... they are free. When I look at them, I see 3 completely different countries, three completely different cultures, DESPITE the fact that the predominant language in all 3 countries is ENGLISH.  -- and all 3 countries "get along" ... we have all "moved on" and we're allies and friends today.

Although I am interested in the British monarchy, I feel no connection to it. I prefer my government. I prefer American tv shows and a summer BBQ over Britcoms and Bangers and Mash. I love Ireland and I do feel a connection to it. But I also feel like ... it's its own country. It's where my family came from, but it's not completely who I am.

I don't know why it can't be that easy with China? ... I would love to ask President Hu or anyone, why do you care so much? do you feel like you're "losing face" if you lose Taiwan? ... what IS it?

I have to add that it's really NOT something that comes up in conversation much here. I think mainland people know that ... Taiwan is "different". Even more different than Hong Kong or Shenzhen or any of the other "Special Economic Zones" in China. But it's not an easy pill to swallow, for whatever reason.

It's funny because I have one student here- 9 yr old Justin - who is Taiwanese. He has family in both Taiwan and California but he lives with his parents in Foshan, China. He's lived here since he was 4 yrs old. He speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese and English. He was born in California and speaks English very well.... and he is definitely "Taiwanese" and considers Taiwan to be another country. ( I didn't tell him that he was wrong either... ) One day he was talking about that and my TA told him - "If you say that here, people will be very angry". I didn't ask her WHY? at the time ... but maybe when the time is right I will.

it's ironic too because ... "Freedom" ( in English anyway, I don't know how to spell it in Chinese characters) is blocked on the internet in China. Literally, the word "Freedom". If I went and googled - "Freedom" online here - without a VPN code, depending on if I was on a PC or a MAC I would get "Internet Explorer Cannot Display This Web Page" or "Safari Has Dropped The Connection" and no page would show up. I've done it a few times so I know.

I think with time, things will change. But it has to be that "sit on your hands, grit your teeth and be patient" kind of time. It can't be "aggressive".

Taiwan, I don't really know you (yet ).... but I feel you.
I fully support you.... I "get it".

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