23 April, 2016

T is for Taipei

One summer, while my family was living in Taipei, Taiwan, a student in China brought western media attention to protests happening in Beijing, by standing still in front of tanks that were bearing down on the protestors.
image: money.cnn.com

I know you’ve heard of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. We all witnessed from a distance shocking truths happening in a foreign, still Communist, country. What you may not know is that the government of the People’s Republic of China (PROC) enforced a media blackout. No news. No TV, radio, or newspapers to any part of China. If you were in China, but not on-the-spot in Beijing you couldn’t know. If you had loved ones taking part in the protest, you wouldn't know what happened to them - where they arrested? killed?

Democracy in action - downtown Taipei

SIDEBAR: Taiwan, Republic of China, or Taiwan, ROC, my then-home is NOT China. I know, Americans who buy into what the media tells us may be unaware. Taiwan is a FULLY FUNCTIONING DEMOCRACY. They would not object to reunification if PROC made drastic policy changes, but they currently stand alone. (pardon my soap-box, but this must be said.) The fact that the US gives/gave Most Favored Nation Status to a Communist government while denying the sovereignty of a nearby democracy is an absolute travesty, and makes me honestly ashamed to call myself American. We are so materialistic that we are enabling a government to continue violating human rights so that we can buy their cheaply manufactured crap, while a tiny republic has to keep close eye on the narrow strait keeping that regime at bay!

It’s outrageous.

It should be un-American.

If we stand for democracy, we need to stand for democracy.

(putting my soap-box away.)


You still here? Thanks. Here's my real point:

One day during the media blackout I was in my dad’s office, and all the Taiwanese staff were heading out for the afternoon. Dad’s secretary invited me to join them and we took a city bus to a huge gathering at one of the memorials in downtown Taipei. People were cutting pertinent articles out of the Taiwan papers, to be air-lifted over the Straits of Taiwan.
This one: Sun Yat-sen Memorial in Taipei

Now, I can’t read Chinese, but I do know how to operate a pair of scissors. There were thousands of people spread around the grounds, and bundles of newspapers being dropped off and spread around to clusters of volunteers. Among the different papers, someone pointed out to me the particular Chinese headlines I was looking for, and I got to work. The thought that this might be the only news that reached people in the far south of China was humbling and motivating. It still brings tears to my eyes.

image: cnn.com
I might not have known how to read the language, but I could recognize what was pointed out to me. People seemed surprised and appreciative that this strange, white girl was helping them send news of Beijing to strangers across the sea. Personally, I was surprised not to see more Americans in the mix.

Moral of the Story: Don’t EVER think you can’t help.


  1. I love this post in all sorts of ways. First, it's a reminder that we can't believe everything without reservation. Second, and most important, there certainly *is* always something we can do. And it's up to us to do it.

    Glad to have found you through the A to Z Challenge.

    ~Eli@CoachDaddy (#958)

    1. Thanks Eli.
      I'm not usually so preachy, but it's a sore subject.
      The list of AtoZ blogs keeps shrinking - I'll go check out yours.

  2. I take my freedom for granted. Right now I give thanks for my freedom and wish it for all beings

  3. I can't recall the details, but I remember China telling San Francisco that it couldn't have a Tibetan float in a parade..and apparently it told an Oregon town to take down a Tibetan mural.

    That it can have such influence completely outside it's own provenance is terrifying.

    1. I'd love to visit China, but I just don't get it.

  4. Well said, Red. I have been amazed to find in my own life during this past decade that there is always a way to help, ways in which one wouldn't expect.

    Humanitarian issues do get me fired up.

    1. Thank you. It was a strange moment in my life.

  5. I want to cut up some Chinese newspapers. Maybe I can get Moses to send me some.

    1. Or we could go.
      I still have friends in Taiwan...


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.