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Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2019

Taiwan Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill Today: A Look Back at the 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade

people holding up a large waving rainbow banner at the 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


Big news today out of a Taiwan:
Lawmakers in Taiwan have approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, a landmark decision that makes the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.

The vote came almost two years after the island's Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law -- which said marriage was between a man and a woman -- was unconstitutional. The panel of judges gave the island's parliament two years to amend or enact new laws.

On Friday -- only a week off the two-year deadline -- lawmakers in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality. It will go into effect on May 24.
Over eight years ago, I shared some thoughts about stumbling upon the 2011 Taiwan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Parade in Taipei:
Seeing people freely and openly march for a social cause in a land rich with Chinese culture felt surreal. Nothing like this was possible in mainland China where I had been living for over five years. The parade also brought to mind several friends who had repressed their sexuality but felt comfortable during their college years to "come out".
I then shared a personal account to demonstrate one way that decreasing LGBT discrimination would not only obviously benefit the LGBT community but heterosexuals as well. While I still agree with the main point I wanted to make, I later wished I had expressed myself much better (reading it makes me cringe now) and, perhaps more importantly, done so in a separate piece. That way a post which included a video and numerous photos could have been much more focused on the people who had marched and rallied.

So to finally rectify my mistake to a degree and to provide some more context and color for what happened today in Taiwan, without further ado I will share here the video and 16 photos I shared before plus 14 more photos I haven't previously shared of a parade eight years ago in Taipei that was part of paving the way to a long sought and significant gain in rights for many.




2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


young man holding a sign and dressed up in a maid's outfit at the 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


people holding up a large waving rainbow banner at the 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


Photography on the street at the 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


young women hold signs that say free hug and LGBT at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


young women hold signs that say "Follow Your Heart" and "Equal Love" at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


paraders carrying signs at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


paraders at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


police policing  at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


two young men with rainbow flags at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


"LGBT Fight Back! Discrimination Get Out!" sign at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


same two young women who are dressed with minimal covering and vines at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


two young women holding hands with Chinese writing on their backs at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade
The young woman on the right has “我是夏娃” written on her back.
It translates to "I am Eve".
The other has "我爱夏娃" which translates to "I love Eve".


Android Robot mascot and people wearing shirts with two Android Robots holding hands and a rainbow flag at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


group standing behind the sign Promise Giver Christian Action Network


two young women with rainbow stripes painted on their left cheeks


man in bondage outfit at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


man dressed up in colorful women's clothing and wearing a large wig at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


stage at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade rally


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade rally


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade rally


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade rally


Young men being photographed at 2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


2011 Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade


Monday, April 8, 2019

A Cantonese Opera in Hong Kong About Donald Trump

About a month and a half ago in Hong Kong, as I left the Yau Ma Tei metro station I noticed an advertisement for the new Cantonese opera "Trump On Show".

Trump On Show advertisement


Yes, this really exists:
Start with a performer playing President Trump. Then bring in a long-lost brother who was raised in China.

Throw in castmates portraying a ping-pong-loving Mao Zedong, a deal-seeking Kim Jong Un, Ivanka Trump and Mao’s power-hungry fourth wife.

They are singing. Opera. In Cantonese.

And, well, it’s complicated.
For more about those complications, read Mary Hui's piece about the Trumpian opera in The Washington Post, which includes some perspectives from the opera's creator, Li Kui-ming:
Li also studied the president’s quirks and habits — his penchant for fast food and television-watching habits — to develop Trump’s character.

Li, however, was struck by similarities between Mao and Trump.

“What they share in common is they both started a cultural revolution,” Li said.
Oh boy.

Trump wasn't the only Republican U.S. politician that I recently noticed in Hong Kong. Admittedly, it was a bit confounding to turn around at a bus stop in Kowloon Bay and think "Is that really Dick Cheney?".

Vice movie poster ad in Hong Kong


I don't expect to attend any "Trump on Show" performances, which opens April 12, or have anything worth saying about the movie "Vice". So this post is probably all you'll find about them here. I will update if I see any indications of a Hong Kong musical about George W. Bush though.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Apparent Mismatch for a Name: Mini Jumbo Wuzhou Buses in Guangxi, China

Hong Kong formally names its minibuses, like the one which appeared in the previous post, "public light buses". Wuzhou, a city in the Chinese autonomous region Guangxi, also has minibuses. But instead of "public light bus" they have another name on them.

mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus (梧州珍宝巴士)


The "Wuzhou" and "Bus" parts of the name "Jumbo Wuzhou Bus" make obvious sense. "Jumbo" is less clear, though, since these are minibuses. If that is the jumbo size then what's the mini size?

A larger bus can help begin to clear up the mystery.

full-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus


They have the same name on them, which is the name of a bus company. This is clearly stated in smaller Chinese print elsewhere on the buses.

Jumbo Wuzhou Bus logo


Like buses in Hong Kong, some buses have advertising.

full-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus with advertising


However, you won't see advertising quite like what's on the minibus in the previous post. Hongkongers have greater political rights and more freedom of speech than people in mainland China. The "Tell Right From Wrong, True From False" slogan was part of a campaign for the Labor Party's attempt to win a 2018 Kowloon West by-election. But China still limits Hongkongers' rights to a degree that leads some people to claim Hong Kong doesn't have real democracy. These limitations were evident in Kowloon West election when the Labor Party's original candidate, Lau Siu-lai, was barred from running due to her previous stances regarding Hong Kong's self-determination.

Back to more mundane matters . . . in Wuzhou there are buses in between the mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus and the regular-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus in terms of size. So here are two mini-plus Jumbo Wuzhou Buses:

two mid-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Buses


The word "珍宝" in the Chinese name for Jumbo Wuzhou Bus would often be translated as "treasure". But it is also a loanword in Cantonese meaning "jumbo" because of its similar sound to the English word. Like in Hong Kong, Cantonese is a commonly spoken language in Wuzhou.

I can't shed more light on what inspired the choice of "jumbo". But if you want to dig more, it might be worth looking into the Guangzhou buses with a similar name and logo.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Trump's Tweets in the Hong Kong News

Tonight on the news as I waited for a ferry tonight in Hong Kong:


Donald Trump on the news in Hong Kong


A tweet by Donald Trump featured in the news in Hong Kong


A tweet by Donald Trump featured in the news in Hong Kong


China and US flags displayed on a news segment about the China - US trade discussions


Just a basic point that is part of a larger picture: Trump's tweets receive close attention, even here.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Little Red App, Li Rui's Death, Lots of Debt, and Forced Pork: Four China-Themed Tweets With Links

Here are four tweet with links to pieces very much worth checking out if you haven't already:




Friday, January 11, 2019

Hu Jintao Looking at a Fish

A piece about a site in Zhongshan I had planned to post yesterday turned out to be more challenging to put together than expected. I think I finally sorted out the loose ends which had bothered me, but I won't get around to finishing it today.

Instead, today I will share a photo that tangentially relates to the future post.

Photo's caption:
"2004年12月21日,时任中共中央总书记,国家主席,中央军委主席胡锦涛视察中山市食品水产进出口集团,时任中央政治局委员,广东省委书记张德江等陪同"


The photo in the above photo is displayed at Zhongshan's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. According to the caption, it was taken in 2004 and captures a moment as Hu Jintao (far right), then general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and president of China, inspected the Zhongshan Foodstuffs and Aquatic Import & Export Group Co., Ltd. The caption doesn't say anything about whether the visit was a success, but with all those smiles it looks like at least this part went quite well, at least for the non-fish entities.

I now see that the photo relates in yet another rather tangential fashion to the unfinished future post. So I will add that it includes another exciting photo of a past Chinese leader displayed at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and has an indirect fish theme. Most importantly, I can now rest in peace knowing that I have a "Hu Jintao Looking at a Fish" post.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Assorted China Links: Human trafficking, Silence on Uyghurs, Inspired Student Activists, and a Canceled Column

There are several (OK, much more than several) pieces I have been keeping in open browser tabs, so I could write about them some day. In part since I am fearing they will become buried and I haven't done an assorted links post in a while, below are several of the pieces below with links and an excerpt.

1.  "Myanmar woman escapes Chinese captors after 6 years" by Todd Pitman, Esther Htusan, and Dake Kang:
When she entered China surreptitiously in September 2011, there were no border guards, no checkpoints. They walked across a shallow creek in broad daylight.

In Yingjiang, after eating a bowl of noodles for breakfast at a local restaurant, Marip Lu began to feel dizzy.

Soon, her vision blurred. Then everything went black.

When Marip Lu regained consciousness, she was slumped on the back of a red motorcycle racing down a highway, a chubby Chinese man holding onto her with one hand.

Rubbing her eyes, she saw rivers and flower parks flashing by. Then things she'd only seen in movies: twinkling skyscrapers with vast crowds walking between them like ants.

When she reached for the phone in her purse, she noticed it was missing along with her Myanmar identification card and the handful of Myanmar kyat — worth only a few U.S. dollars — that she'd brought.

Suddenly, she understood. She'd been tricked, then drugged. And now, she was being trafficked.

2.  "Muslim Governments Silent as China Cracks Down on Uighurs":
Almost three weeks after a United Nations official cited “credible reports” that the country was holding as many as 1 million Turkic-speaking Uighurs in “re-education” camps, governments in Muslim-majority countries have issued no notable statements on the issue. The silence became more pronounced this week after a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers urged sanctions against senior Chinese officials. . . .

The silence on Uighurs contrasts with outrage last year when some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled clearance operations by the Myanmar military, which the UN has since likened to genocide. One big difference between the two cases: Myanmar’s economy is 180 times smaller than that of China, which is the top trading partner of 20 of the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

3.  "Inspired by #MeToo, student activists target inequality in China" by Sue-Lin Wong and Christian Shepherd:
They use code words to evade government scrutiny. They communicate on messaging apps using end-to-end encryption. On the heavily-censored messaging platform WeChat, they send images of articles, rotated and distorted with shapes and squiggles that can trip up text recognition functions.

When online censors tried to scrub a letter Yue posted on WeChat in April about being pressured by her university, fellow students used blockchain technology to ensure it remained accessible.

4.  For the fourth and final slot, I am going break with the link-sharing traditions and instead share a series of related tweets, the latest of which just caught eye:



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

An Apartment Visit and Another Activist in Jail in China: Two Post Liu Xia Departure Links

After years of detainment despite never being charged with a crime, yesterday Liu Xia left China. Here are links to two relevant articles, both from Agence France-Presse, published today:

1. In "On the eve of freedom, a glimpse inside Liu Xia's flat" Becky Davis shares her recent visit to Liu Xia at her home in Beijing:
Judging by her apartment on the eve of her departure from Beijing to Germany, Liu Xia seemed completely unaware of her impending freedom -- or perhaps unwilling to believe it.

AFP on Monday evaded tight security to gain rare access to the fifth-floor duplex apartment.
Perhaps the Chinese government deliberately allowed Davis to slip by security as a test to see if Liu Xia would follow a "request" not to say anything about an upcoming departure.


2. In "Chinese democracy activist sentenced to 13 years for 'subversion'" Joanna Chao reports an example of how human rights remain a significant issue in China despite Liu Xia now being free:
A prominent Chinese political campaigner was sentenced to 13 years in jail on Wednesday, a court in central China said.

Qin Yongmin was found "guilty of subversion of state power," the Wuhan City Intermediate People's Court said on its official website. . . .

The European Union on Wednesday criticised a "deteriorating situation of civil and political rights in China, which has been accompanied by the detention and conviction of a significant number of Chinese human rights defenders."
And the world turns.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Liu Xia Free and Out of China After Years of Detainment for No Crime

Post updated with additional tweets and attributions at 5:42 p.m.

Nearly one year ago, Liu Xiabo died in China. Today his wife Liu Xia, who faced her own long and difficult journey, is finally free under more positive conditions — as reported by Suyin Haynes in Time:
Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, has left China for Europe after eight years under de facto house arrest.

Family friends said that Liu Xia boarded a flight from departing from Beijing on Tuesday headed for Berlin . . . .

An accomplished poet and writer, Liu Xia was placed under house arrest by the Chinese authorities in 2010, after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize but was unable to collect it due to his detention on political grounds. She had never been charged with a crime and was placed under close state surveillance. Concerns for her health mounted after she was heard in an April audio recording saying that she was “prepared to die” under house arrest following the loss of her husband.

The recent lack of high-level official condemnation over Liu Xia's previous ongoing detention was striking. Jane Perlez in The New York Times reports Germany played a key role in her release and provides one reason for the relative quiet:
European diplomats had said over the last several months that China had left Ms. Liu in limbo as a show of resolve against Chinese human rights dissidents, despite aggressive efforts by Germany to press for her release.

After Ms. Merkel’s visit to Beijing in the spring, the Chinese authorities let the Europeans know that if Ms. Liu’s case was not publicized, her release would be possible, a European diplomat with knowledge of the case said.

Although Liu Xia is now in Europe, as reported by Catherine Lai and Tom Grundy in the Hong Kong Free Press she may not yet be entirely free.
Patrick Poon, researcher for Amnesty International, told HKFP: “It’s really wonderful news to hear that Liu Xia is eventually able to leave China. She has been suffering depression. It’s good that she can receive medical treatment in Germany now. Her brother Liu Hui is still in China. Liu Xia might not want to talk much as she would be worried about his safety.”

So some are calling for her brother to take a similar voyage.


Some see positive signs in the news that extends beyond Liu Xia's freedom.


Some don't see Liu Xia's release as a sign of broader positive change inside of China.


But the news may still suggest something about changes outside of China.


I found Liu Xia's detainment extremely troubling and feared she would meet final circumstances similar to her husband's. So it is heartening to see she will now be in a far better situation, to say the least. Hopefully she can recover her health. And may she find it possible to safely express herself.

"Created by Liu Xia during the time of Liu Xiaobo’s labor reeducation in 1996-1999, the 'ugly babies,' as Liu refers to the dolls, are positioned in tableaux that evoke confinement and repression."
Source: Columbia University's The Italian Academy

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Shirts for Sale in China: Still Supporting Jesse Jackson

Admittedly, I didn't predict any presidential political campaigns in the U.S. would inspire a little bit of fashion in China 30 years later.

"Jesse Jackson '88" shirt for sale in Jiangmen, China
For sale on the 2nd floor of Wuyi Plaza in Jiangmen, Guangdong

Monday, April 9, 2018

Political Art: Trump Gives Orders to Japan's Prime Minister at an Aircraft Carrier Restaurant in Jiangmen, China

While looking across the street at the Rongji Plaza shopping center in Jiangmen, Guangdong province, one of the signs perched on its roof especially caught my attention. I soon felt compelled to check out the Jin Li Ao Aircraft Carrier Restaurant (金利奥航母主题西餐厅). A dining experience with aircraft carrier ambience could be something to behold.

The 3rd-floor restaurant features Western-style food with a heavy emphasis on steaks. I assume this is not standard fare on China's single combat-ready aircraft carrier, but admittedly I have never eaten there.

In addition to a variety of steaks, the restaurant in Jiangmen includes a large structure with features similar to a miniature aircraft carrier. At the ship's bow sits a jet.

mock fighter jet with child inside


And a helicopter is ready for takeoff on the stern.

mock aircraft carrier helicopter


Both the jet and helicopter are open to visitors. Set between the two on the aircraft carrier's flight deck is seating for diners. There is also seating next to the carrier and in another section of the restaurant with a tropical theme. The servers and hosts all wear sailor uniforms.

To me, the most remarkable aspect of the restaurant isn't the aircraft carrier or the two vehicles on it. Or even the extensive variety of steaks on the menu. Instead, that honor belongs to some artwork in the restaurant's lobby area.

mural of Donald Trump pointing from a ship and Shinzo Abe made to look like a shrimp


After pondering the piece a couple of times, I asked a host who had earlier invited me to take photos about the intended meaning. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: What is happening here?
Host: Oh, it's just a picture. There's no meaning.
Me: Is that Trump?
Host: It's just a picture. It could be anybody.
Me: Um, how about the other person. Is that Japan's leader?
Host: Nobody in particular. It could be anybody. It's just a picture.
At this point, I figured the conversation wasn't going anywhere. I strongly suspected he was deliberately avoiding an explanation and appreciated that this was far more than "just a picture".

A minute or so later he asked, "Oh, do you think that looks like Trump?".

After I confirmed I did he replied, "Well, it could be anybody."

He smiled throughout our conversation.

Good times.

So my best current take on what is going on here. . . Well, it sure looks like a deliberate depiction of President of the U.S. Donald Trump and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe. Abe's appearance as a shrimp may be connected to a politically provocative meal served to Trump during his visit to South Korea last November:
The menu at South Korea’s state banquet for Donald Trump has left a nasty taste in Japan, after the president was served seafood caught off islands at the centre of a long-running territorial dispute between Seoul and Tokyo.

Japanese officials have also complained about the decision to invite a former wartime sex slave to the event, held earlier this week during the second leg of Trump’s five-nation tour of Asia.

Conservative media in Japan labeled the banquet “anti-Japanese” for featuring shrimp from near Dokdo – a rocky outcrop known in Japan as Takeshima. Both countries claim sovereignty over the islands, which are administered by Seoul.
China makes no claim regarding these islands, but it does have a similar dispute over the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China, currently controlled by Japan. Many in China would applaud the meal served to Trump in Seoul.

The island in the background looks like a possible match to the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands (would be easier to confirm if Trump weren't blocking a portion of it). Perhaps Trump is ordering Abe to deliver an apology (big in China) and hand over the islands. Although I wouldn't bet on this scenario happening, even forgetting the shrimp part, many Chinese probably find it far more plausible. At the very least, Trump would certainly gain a huge number of fans in China if he achieved something like this or even tried.

So perhaps the restaurant dreams of a visit by Trump. Maybe that is why they feature steak. It is one of his favorite foods after all. They better have some ketchup though.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Time Rex

pedestal missing most of a once-attached stone sculpture of an animal


Yesterday I was thinking about putting together a picture-heavy post about a temple I had recently visited in Jiangmen, Guangdong. I thought it could make for a good change of pace from previous posts.

Then I took a look at Twitter.

My reentrance into that world happened to be shortly after the first reports of Donald Trump firing the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. I quickly got sucked into the drama of various people trying to put the pieces together and figure out what it all meant.

I use the word "drama" because, admittedly, that's a large part of what kept my attention. Yes, the news was quite important. But ultimately, if I hadn't learned about the details for another day or two, there wouldn't be any negative effects for me. There was no likely decision I was going to make during that time which could have been impacted by it. If anything, it would be beneficial to wait. As news breaks typically some of the information is wrong and many relevant pieces are missing.

Sure, it could have been different if I desired to contribute to the discussion. But in this case, I wasn't planning to.

I followed along on Twitter nonetheless. I clicked links to stories that quickly became outdated as new information came out. Watching it all play out was stimulating.

Once I pulled myself away, there was too little time left to put together a post.

So, in the end, Rex Tillerson was still gone. And a chunk of time I could have used more productively was also gone.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Presidents Day Prologue in Jiangmen

This past Sunday while I was in Jiangmen, Guangdong province, I had forgotten the next day would be Presidents Day in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, the holiday doesn't receive much notice in China.

Nonetheless, I experienced some presidential . . . spirit that night.

Donald Trump mask for sale


The Trump mask for sale at the small trendy shop led to inspired conversation. I still have a few questions about why they were selling it, so I'm just filing this one away.