It’s a three-day week-end in Taiwan, with Friday off to make-up for the Dragon Boat Festival aka Duanwujie 端午節, which actually falls on Saturday 20th.
But it’s so blazingly hot outside that I’m not really planning on attending any Duanwujie festivities, nor eating a steaming hot zongzi 棕子 (Chinese sticky rice dumpling, Chinese tamale, or whatever you call it). Boohoo to me, I know. Well, I’ll probably still end up eating a zongzi to not completely kill the festive mood, haha.
That’s why I’m making it up with this post, or mainly, I wanted to share some recent interesting reads about Taiwan, its future, and work culture. The Taiwanese presidential election is underway, and while there are some blogs out there dedicated to Taiwanese politics, they also tend to be geared towards an already savvy audience of the Taiwanese political scene. Often, it feels like a PhD in
Taiwanese Culture & Politics Taiwan Studies is a pre-requisite to make sense of what’s really happening, so needless to say, my head spins whenever I attempt to read and digest those kind of articles.
So my cultural zongzi of a post is stuffed with three posts/articles, some light political/cultural food for thought to consume somewhere cool, away from those fierce UV rays.
Reflecting on Tsai Ing-wen’s Chicago discussion session (blog Far From Formosa)
A recap of Tsai Ing-wen dinner-conference in Chicago, addressing a crowd of Taiwanese abroad. To the ones who raised their hands up when asked “Who wants to go home?”, here’s what she replied:
“Why do you want to go back?” she asked again, and then continued: “To fill a generic space at a generic company where someone tells you what to do all day? Jobs like that are not the future. Taiwan doesn’t need people like that. But if you want to go back and help get people moving, help getting people doing something new, then that is something we need.”
Why Taiwan’s companies should think about culture (blog Chris W. Hubbard)
The culture at Nike is used as an example of what Taiwanese work culture could aspire to to improve the current work culture, and push household brands on the international stage. The insights are interesting, written by someone with quite a few years of white-collar experience in Taiwan, and ties in well with Tsai’s remarks in Chicago.
Many of my young Taiwanese friends see only two options for finding better workplace cultures: Move abroad, or start their own businesses. And many are doing just that, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but it means larger Taiwanese brands are missing the opportunity to benefit from what these young people have to offer.
The Next President Of Taiwan (magazine TIME Asia, link has original text with Chinese translated version)
Tsai Ing-wen, the potential next president of Taiwan, and maybe leader of the only Chinese democracy. The choice of word on the cover of TIME Asia is subject to ambiguity, but makes more sense once you read the article, and realize that it meant the only real democracy in the Chinese-speaking world.
What falters readers here, is the English translation which doesn’t differentiate between 中國人, Chinese from the Mainland/P.R.C., and the concept of 華人, those who were/are part of the Chinese diaspora but generally don’t culturally identify with the P.R.C.. This 華人/中華 vs. 中國 is a subtle concept, but important to be aware of in the discourse of Taiwan and China.
I thought the article was pleasant to read and mostly positive for Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文, but then read (until my head started to hurt) this scathing but informative critique of it, which did help explaining some quirky details in the article. But well, at the very least, Tsai got some positive exposure to the general public outside of Taiwan.
And once again, to avoid relaying/commenting misleading or misinformed information, I think I should probably stick to topics like food or Chinese learning, which are much more pleasant to research and blog about, and keep me sane. Things are confusing enough as is, I’d rather not to add to it.
With that said, it’s hard to avoid keeping an eye on what’s going on politically, so for that I recommend: Thinking Taiwan, Frozen Garlic, solidarity.tw, Taiwan in Perspective, The View from Taiwan. For news more related to society, check: New Bloom, and Ketagalan media. And if you’re on twitter, do follow @FormosaNation, who’s probably my favorite political pundit out there, if only all of them could get their point across in 140 characters!
Note that the above are to keep abreast of what’s going on in Taiwan, and is best consumed with preliminary knowledge of Taiwan’s history and culture. I unfortunately don’t have any recommendations to actually learn about Taiwanese history from a more or less objective perspective, but if I come across something interesting, I’ll make sure to share it here.
On a lighter note, Tsai can cook, and apparently appreciates good food 😛 :
Tsai Ing-wen is making breakfast. The presidential candidate cracks five eggs and lets them bubble with bacon in the pan. She stacks slices of thick, white toast… The meat comes courtesy of Happy Pig, a farm near her spare but tasteful Taipei apartment, the bread from a neighborhood bakery. She offers me an orange. “Organic,” she says, in English. “And local, of course.”
端午節快樂！Happy Dragon Boat Festival week-end! 😘
(last updated: 2015/06/22 一)