Friday, October 21, 2011

New Paths to Discovery: Unexpected Destinations and Kids

I think now is a good time for a change of pace with a light post about discovery and kids. 

As I mentioned when sharing my experience following a dog in Yuli, Taiwan, I enjoy opening myself up to new ways to explore the world.  It's not necessarily about building a fully representative view of any place but about discovering things I might not have discovered otherwise.

An example of this occurred almost exactly 4 years ago during a visit to Kunming, Yunnan while on vacation.  One day I took a bus to a temple far from the central downtown area and upon finishing my visit I took the same bus route back.  I think.  For reasons mysterious to me, the bus did not go all the way back to the center of the city and finished its trip in... well, I only had a very general idea where I was.

For a brief moment, I wondered how I should continue to the city center.  Then, I realized an opportunity had presented itself and began walking about.

It was a side of Kunming I hadn't seen before.

Mostly dirt street

Various items for sale amongst partially demolished buildings

I was pretty sure the area didn't see many foreigners and the kids were very eager to interact with me and have their photos taken:

This kid's father sold shirts.  When I asked to take his photo the first thing he did was take off his shirt.

After soaking it all in I decided to explore further.  While walking down a main street I came upon a side street that looked decidedly dull.  I figured that was an excellent opportunity to mix things up and headed down that street.

Soon, I came upon two young girls engaging in an activity that might be fun for kids around the globe -- smashing rocks:

Two girls engaged in the universal game of rock smashing.

Like the kids I met earlier, they were very surprised to see a foreigner.  They were particularly curious to know why I would be walking around that area.  I decided to keep it simple and said that I was looking for Chinese culture.  After talking with each for a short time they told me about a place they thought I should go see.  Possibly due to my Chinese skills I wasn't sure what sort of place it may be.  They weren't able to fully describe how to get there, so they excitedly decided that they would take me there themselves.

So they got on their bike:

The smaller girl broke out into laughter almost every time I took a photo.

And we left behind a little boy:

Not coming along for the trip

The place we went to was easily a kilometer or two away.  As we were heading there, the girls would occassionally ask me if I was carrying any money.  I wasn't clear why they were asking me this question.  I had never had kids in China ask me for money under similar conditions so I didn't think that was the explanation.  But I wasn't sure what their real motive could be and decided to just let events unfold.

On the way to the mystery place

Finally, after the unexpectedly long journey we arrived at our destination.  They had taken me to a very large outdoor market.

And after another question it became clear why they had asked me if I was carrying money.  As any smart kid knows, the market isn't as enjoyable if you don't have money to buy anything.

So, an unexpected bus route and meeting two cheerful young guides led to one of the best days of my visit to Kunming.  I saw a side of the city I would have unlikely seen otherwise.  I later examined several English and Chinese maps of the city and saw no mention of the market introduced to me by the little girls.  Often, what I learn from such experiences proves useful, even if it just provides me more context for an important piece of information.  The girl's choice of bringing me to a market in itself provided a clue of what they thought when I said the words "Chinese culture".

What I learn is certainly a large part of why I keep myself open to such experiences.

But for me nothing is better than getting to meet the various people I come across.

Girls bidding me farewell after a wonderful outing

The Many Layers of an Accident in Foshan

Wang Yue (Xiao Yue Yue), the little girl from Foshan who was severely injured in a hit and run and then ignored by many passersby, has passed away.

A few more words on this incident...

In referencing my first post on the subject Will Moss aptly wrote on Twitter "Many layers".  In following some of the many pieces written during the past few days I've seen the number of layers grow whether they are directly mentioned or subtly hinted at -- the lady who finally came to Xiao Yue Yue's aid being brought to tears because people were claiming she did it for the money or fame, the curious piece about "China's morality" by the Chinese publication Global Times, the claims that the behavior seen in Foshan could be tied to the cultural revolution, and many more. 

I've also seen some categorically recommend to not watch the video of the event.  I think it would take a long post to fully explain my view, so for now I'll simply say that I don't believe in sharing such videos simply for sensationalism and I do believe there was a potential benefit in sharing this specific video with a warning of its content.  And I maintain that view despite the fact that the day after I watched the video several images from it would disturbingly flash through my mind whenever I saw a little girl.

I think there are many issues to follow up on but for now, for me at least, I think it's best to spend some more time considering them.  Again, there are so many layers.  I may touch on them later, even if I don't specifically tie them to the topic of people's willingness to help accident victims.

For the moment, I'll express my hope that the conditions that allowed such an event to occur, whatever their scope, can be improved in time.  I also hope people do what they can to help make that happen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More on People Not Helping Accident Victims in China

In my previous post "People Not Helping Accident Victims in China" I shared the disturbing case of the little girl in Foshan who after being run over by a van was ignored by many passersby.  It's a darker topic, but I hope that discussion of it can serve a role in helping spur changes that may reduce such incidents in the future.  For more on the accident in Foshan and its significance in China see this post by Evan Osnos on The New Yorker.

In contrast to the previous post, I'll share some reactions of readers who I believe are all Americans.  I will refrain for now from commenting on them or attempting to answer any questions (one of which in particular I have little knowledge about) but I think they're worth sharing as they are informative or revealing of people's thoughts.  You're welcome to respond.

One reader wrote about a potentially relevant study and some of her personal thoughts:
This classic social psych study seems relevant if you haven't heard of it:

These were *seminary students* and many had just been primed to think about the good samaritan, and yet only 10% offered aid to the man in need when they were told they were late for their next appointment. The conclusions are about "haste", but I think a broader theme is simply that fear of inconvenience or trouble makes people less willing to help. If the Chinese government has created a situation where helping is so costly, then blaming the government might be more effective than blaming the passerby if it leads to productive legal reform. (Though really, I am perfectly willing to hate on everyone involved in that case and I hope they get shamed into oblivion.)

... That could be my child. I like to think that where I live this could never happen, because people here believe the police and emergency responders are here to help us, and because there are good samaritan laws. I also like to think people around here are brought up to care somewhat about others. Even if this third reason isn't true, I'll take the first two. :\
"The Reluctant Expat" wrote:
 As an American I am appalled at any person observing an accident and not stepping in to help. The incident you noted more than likely happened in a gang area where everyone shuts up and do not give police, yet the person who said that even making a 911 (emergency call) makes you 'involved' has to be highly uneducated. That is an untrue, stupid remark.

The article in Yahoo concerning the little girl made a statement about Chinese being afraid of being sued for helping another, "because his intervention broke government rules on dealing with accident victims." Is that true. Another person cannot help with accident victims and what does that entail? I am curious.
To which "Myra" replied:
Oh, response to The Reluctant Expat: No it's not the rule, however in the case of the little Foshan girl, according the the 'Rules" she should have been left there until the police arrived. BUT, no one in China follows rules about many things, and this was an atrocious lack of human decency and kindness. People should have helped.
"AC" provided this comment:
always scary to hear, not matter the society.
Maybe it is that good deeds are less newsworthy...or a dark way to put it is that as long as terrible cases such as this is deemed newsworthy it is a "positive sign" for the society as a whole that such acts are still considered deviant?
On that note, a reader brought my attention to a recent accident in the US state of Utah that was deemed newsworthy for the help offered to a motorcyclist who was entrapped under a burning car.  In light of the other recent news, I found it particularly inspiring.  I believe it shows how people anywhere possess an incredible potential to help others.

Here is what I believe to be the complete raw video footage (no sound) of the event.  I think it's worth watching as you can see how more and more people arrive to assist in a very dangerous situation.

There's also a video of a segment from The Early Show on CBS providing more commentary and including interviews with some of the people involved.  I can't embed it but you can find it here:

As I noted in the previous post, significant societal changes may be required to impact the degree to which some people are willing to help accident victims.  Whatever the case may be, I hope scenes such as the one in Utah can be inspirational to all -- whether in China, the US, or elsewhere.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

People Not Helping Accident Victims in China

A couple of weeks ago I was walking near the Shida Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan when I saw an ambulance approaching.  A few moments later I saw this scene:

Lady with her leg stuck in a hole in the sidewalk

Apparently, a brick in the sidewalk collapsed as a lady stepped on it and her leg fell into the newly created hole.  Her leg was wedged in so tightly that she couldn't get it out.  Several people tried to help her, including by pouring cooking oil around her leg to act as a lubricant.  However, it wasn't until emergency workers were able to pry another brick away that they were able to pull her free:

Hole in sidewalk and lady's hurt leg

Based on what I saw, both the people who were nearby and the rescue workers who later arrived reacted in a very helpful manner.  It was particularly notable to me as I was reminded of a recent post by Adam Minter on Bloomberg's "World View" about the unwillingness of some people in mainland China to help elderly who are involved in more serious accidents.  He explained why people might behave that way:
In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of elderly men and women who have collapsed or suffered accidents in public spaces who then sue the good Samaritans who have tried to help them. These cases have created a genuine and widespread fear that helping a person in need will lead to personal financial loss.
The post is worth reading in full and raises some points I've heard a number of people, both Chinese and foreign, mention in China.  It may also help shed some light on a shocking story not involving an elderly person but a little girl who was hit by a car in Foshan, Guangdong province.  Kenneth Tan on the Shanghaiist uses some understandably strong words to describe the incident:
This is the top story on Sina Weibo today, and it's FUCKED UP to the nth degree. On Thursday afternoon in Foshan, Guangdong province, a two-year-old toddler was run over by a van outside a hardware market. The first passerby, who is very likely to have witnessed what happened, walked around the girl, without even looking down to see what happened to her. Behind him was another man, who apparently also witnessed the accident, but decided to make a u-turn so he wouldn't have to come up close to the girl lying on the road. One cyclist took a brief look at the girl, but decided to cycle away as if nothing happened, and a fourth passerby also walked around the toddler.
Sadly, that's not all.  Read the story here for more details.  However, a video on Youku that is now making the rounds in China may be more than enough.  Warning: the video is "graphic" and could be very upsetting to some.  It includes video of the little girl being run over more than once, numerous people passing by without helping, the reactions of the parents upon seeing the video, etc.  It's in Chinese but if you skip to the 1 minute mark what you see doesn't require translation.

(note: if you're using a VPN and having trouble viewing the video try turning off the VPN and reloading)

I must say the video left me stunned [Update: The girl has passed away; Update 2:  Earlier reports were incorrect and the girl's condition has stabilized; Update 3: After one week in intensive care the girl has passed away.]  It is positive, though, that the story is being reported and passed around in China on sites such as Sina Weibo.

When I asked someone from Shanghai about it she wrote, "I really dont know what to say... an abnormal society leads to this. When I learned about it I felt guilty to be a Chinese in this abnormal society."

I asked someone from Hong Kong whether she thought this could happen there.  She carefully said, "Not now."  She then explained that she regularly sees news of people not helping accident victims in mainland China and that she worried things in Hong Kong might change as more mainland Chinese visit or move to there.

What seems particularly telling is that neither of the two people were surprised that something like this could occur in mainland China.

While I certainly would be surprised if it happened in the US, the US is not completely innocent in this regards.  One related case occurred in Hartford, Connecticut when an elderly hit & run victim was not aided by many people passing by.  An article on ABC News reported one of the possible reasons:
Park Street, where Torres was hit, is part of a notorious high-crime area, with many residents unwilling to help police or be labeled a "snitch" by others.
People in the neighborhood struggled to explain why no one helped a seriously injured elderly man.

"This area here is hot, a lot of bad stuff," one man who declined to give his name told ABC News. "I gotta go now."

When asked why people wouldn't call for help, he said, "If you want to, but you're involved then."
Like in mainland China, the fear of putting oneself into a negative situation may have been a key reason for why a number of people didn't help an accident victim.  Not only does this put some people's behavior in a new light, but it suggests that the behavior could be better influenced if the sources for the fear were to be addressed.  Unfortunately, in both Hartford and Foshan the sources may be part of societal issues that are not easily changed.  Regardless, after watching the video of the little girl in Foshan maybe more people in China and elsewhere will be willing to try.

To end on a more uplifting note I'll mention that just a few days ago a stranger saved a woman from an attempted suicide in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.  In light of the stories about people not helping accident victims in China, it is hard not to notice the identity of the rescuer.  It is emphasized in the content and title of an article by Xu Wenwen on the Shanghai Daily: "Praise for foreigner's lake rescue bravery".

Why was the American rescuer willing to help?  Was she worried about getting herself embroiled in a bad situation?  I can't say in part because she took what may have been a very smart action in China.  As noted in the Shanghai Daily:
Afterwards, she didn't leave her name or contact information, Hangzhou police said.

Update: Follow-up on this post here: "More on People Not Helping Accident Victims in China"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Conversation with a Journalism Student and Shantou, Guangdong Province

Recently while riding a train in southern Taiwan, I had the opportunity to speak to student who is studying journalism at Shantou University in Shantou, Guangdong province in mainland China.  She was in Taiwan as part of a student exchange program -- a sign of the openness that is growing between Taiwan and mainland China.  She had several positive things to say about Taiwan, so I asked her whether she'd prefer to later work in Taiwan or Mainland China (if she had the choice).  She said Mainland China even though in her own words it was more "challenging" due to the level of censorship applied by the Chinese government.  Despite that, she felt that China would offer her greater opportunity since there was "more to discover".

Her story reminded me of many others I've heard from some of the youth I've spoken to in China -- frustrated by censorship but pragmatically accepting it as a part of life.  In a later post (yes, I have a lot of "later posts" lined up and am working on them), I'll write about another student I met who is studying law and journalism at a university not too far from Shantou.  Her story helps to draw attention to the broad array of views that are held by people in China.  However, it can be challenging to express those views when some of your articles are blocked from being published in the school newspaper because they're not "appropriate".

I visited Shantou (map) this past winter and also had the chance to visit Shantou University.  Shantou is less than an hour drive from another city I highlighted in a post over half a year ago -- Chaozhou, Guangdong.  Although Shantou is roughly in the middle of two other cities covered in recent posts, Hong Kong & Taipei, and shares aspects of their cultures, it is readily apparent that its economic development lags significantly behind them.

In my usual spirit I'll share a selection of photos to provide a glimpse of some scenes around the city.  The photos around the university in particular provide a hint of some of the issues I was exploring there.

students picking up delivered packages sitting outside, several with logos of the boxes
Students picking up their recently delivered packages at Shantou University.  Notice a familiar logo?

PC's were the norm in the Shantou University library.

This Shantou University classroom was filled with Macs, though.

The people with umbrellas are actually part of an artistic piece at Shantou Unversity.

A typical street scene

One of the main streets of Shantou

A pedestrian shopping street

What was this man watching on the TV in a small restaurant?

American wrestling

However, I sampled their famous snacks & sweets.

A kiddie play area in a shopping center

A slide offers a quick and fun way to descend this hill in the Queshi Scenic Area.

A market in Shantou's central "Old Town"

Another scene in the "Old Town"

Harry Potter working his magic

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tram Advertising in Hong Kong

Tram in Hong Kong with California Pizza Kitchen advertising
Tram in Hong Kong with California Pizza Kitchen advertising

In an upcoming post, I'll share some thoughts on the impact advertisements can have on designing effective user experiences for online services or even software.  One point I'll make is that it is important to understand people's typical "advertisement environment" not only on their various electronic devices but in their broader world as well.  It's one of the reasons why I sometimes post about topics that touch on marketing in everyday situations in China, whether it's Coca-Cola police tents in Kunming or BlackBerry promotions with Obama in Chengdu.

Hong Kong is certainly a place where advertising can be found in a variety of locations.  One form that has caught my eye is easily seen on the double-decker trams that operate on Hong Kong Island.  I was intrigued by the various advertisement designs since trams offer a unique space for the advertising and are mobile.  Some may argue that an advertisement on a tram or bus that passes by people isn't fundamentally different from an advertisement on a billboard that is itself passed by.  While Albert Einstein may agree, the fact that potential viewers are often engaged differently in the two situations may mean that advertisement designers should not approach them identically.

On that note, I'll share a selection of photos of some of the trams I saw during a span of a few days in Hong Kong's Eastern District.  They provide a small window into how some have attempted to capture the attention of and influence people in Hong Kong.

Tram in Hong Kong with Guess advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Tat Ming Wallpaper advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Chinese traditional medicine advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Staccato advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Hong Kong University advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Harmont and Blaine advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Stella Artois advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Spain travel advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Park Rise apartments advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Escada advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Escada advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Escada advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with China Life advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Episode advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Public Bank advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Air Asia advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Costa advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Esprit advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with UniQ Grand condos advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Movado advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Movado advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with The Gloucester condos advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Sun Hung Kai financial advertising

Tram in Hong Kong with Marc Jacobs advertising

UPDATE: More trams in the more recent post "Inspiration on Tracks: More Tram Ads in Hong Kong"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs and the New Apple Store in Hong Kong

By now, you're likely aware of the death of Steve Jobs.  Many fascinating insights on Steve Jobs's life have already been shared online.  This paragraph from an article on Wired by Steven Levy particularly caught my attention:
Jobs usually had little interest in public self-analysis, but every so often he’d drop a clue to what made him tick. Once he recalled for me some of the long summers of his youth. I’m a big believer in boredom,” he told me. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, he explained, and “out of curiosity comes everything.” The man who popularized personal computers and smartphones — machines that would draw our attention like a flame attracts gnats — worried about the future of boredom. “All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”
Like elsewhere in the world, there has been some strong reaction in China to Steve Jobs's death.  Josh Chin and and Owen Fletcher on The Wall Street Journal's "China Real Time Report" capture some of the online reaction.  Laurie Burkitt, also for China Real Time Report, highlights the reaction outside an Apple retail store in Bejing as does C. Custer for Penn Olson with a video.  CNN's "News Stream" describes the similar reaction at an Apple store in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong store is notable since it is Hong Kong's first and opened very recently.  I was able to stop by a couple of weeks ago on its second day of operation and found both floors to be packed with people that weekend:

Half of first floor of Hong Kong's first Apple Store the day after its grand opening

This called to mind the opening of Best Buy's first store in China.  At the time I was able to chat with a Best Buy "Expat-Manager" who planned to work in Shanghai at least until the store's operations were stable.  He excitedly said that he was amazed by the number of people in the store and couldn't imagine a better start.  My first thought was that especially in China crowds don't necessarily equate sales.  More telling to me than the crowds was the lack of activity at the checkout counters.  Now, there are no Best Buy stores in China (they still own a local chain of stores, though).

However, Apple's stores in China have been doing quite well in terms of sales and during my brief visit to the HK store there were numerous instances of actual purchases:

At the Hong Kong Apple Store checkout counter

One of the most impressive aspects of Apple is the connection many people feel with its products and its brand.  For example, in Hong Kong I saw numerous people having their photos taken in front of the store:

Or on the famous staircase:

I think the Apple employee is trying to tell them that taking photos on the stairs creates a bit of a traffic jam.

Or on the 2nd floor in front of the Apple logo:

When I stopped by again two days later the crowds were smaller (it was a weekday) but there were still plenty of people taking photos:

The scenes were particularly striking to me since during a visit several months ago to the Apple Store in Shanghai I was told I could not take photos inside.  However, not only were numerous customers taking photos in the Hong Kong store but Apple employees were sometimes assisting.

I spoke to two Apple employees from the US who were temporarily working in Hong Kong.  They couldn't comment on the Shanghai store but they said that at least in Hong Kong and the US they would allow people to take photos for personal purposes (they also said I could use them as long as my blog wasn't for profit).  When asked to reflect on their Hong Kong experience (so far) they said that the behavior of the customers, including the photo taking, was similar to what they've seen in the US and the main difference was that everything was on a much larger scale in Hong Kong.

I think the taking of photos at Apple Stores isn't only significant for what it says about the incredible image Apple has created for itself.  It also highlights a somewhat hidden value of the stores.  Not only do they offer a chance for Apple to directly sell its products in an environment of their choosing, but they provide a real-world location for people to connect with Apple in a very direct fashion.

Now, in what is a sad moment for many it also serves as a place for some to pay their respects to Steve Jobs.  And just like people wanting to photograph themselves in the Apple Store, I think it says much about what Jobs helped create for both Apple and its customers.

Circular Trips

Like this flight I took from Taipei not too long ago:

The fruits of air congestion

I've been traveling in some circles lately -- both around the island of Taiwan and to & from another location indicated on the map above.

Just sharing to shed some light on how some upcoming posts came about.

More very soon...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Facebook in Taiwan: Lessons for Mainland China

When I recently arrived in Taiwan I didn't have a set agenda and was open to exploring a variety of issues relating to how it compares to Mainland China.  A discussion with some high school students in Hualien provided an opening to what I found to be one of the more interesting contrasts.  Unlike in Mainland China where Facebook is blocked, many youth I spoke to in Taiwan regularly use Facebook.  My experiences appear to have been reasonably representative.  Adaline Lau on ClickZ Asia notes that Facebook had caught up to its largest rival in Taiwan, Yahoo's, about one year ago.  And Paul Mozur on The Wall Street Journal shares that as of March 2011 about 40% of Taiwan's population had a Facebook account.

Susan Su on Inside Facebook last year examined the potential lessons that could be learned from Facebook's dramatic growth in Taiwan:
In short, Taiwan has become a Facebook country.

It’s not just the fact that the site has reached market saturation, however, but the rapidity with which it did so. It took a whirlwind three quarters for Facebook to jump from fewer than 400,000 total Taiwanese users in June of 2009 to its current 6.2 million. What were the factors that account for this rapid rise, and could they be replicated in Japan, Korea or mainland China (assuming Facebook were to become unblocked in that country)?
Su suggests that Taiwan serves as a valuable "hybrid" to examine since it shares a variety of characteristics with different nearby countries.  For example, its economy is comparable to South Korea, yet it shares a spoken language with Mainland China.  Because of this, Facebook's success in Taiwan may provide particularly invaluable insights for how Facebook could grow in nearby regions where it is relatively struggling.  While I think there are some issues in using Taiwan as an example this way, I think it's worth exploring what Su's conclusions about Taiwan may say about Mainland China.

In a nutshell, Su argues that "stagnant competitors" and social games were key to Facebook's growth in Taiwan.

Given that Mainland China already has a number of active social networking services, such as Renren, QQ, Sina Weibo, etc., that I wouldn't label as stagnant (at least not all of them), some may argue that the market there is saturated and doesn't offer the same opportunity to Facebook as Taiwan did.  However, as I noted in my earlier post about the potential value of Facebook (and some other global services) operating in Mainland China, I think there is ample space for services that can meet a key need that no Chinese company can now fulfill -- connecting Chinese users to the rest of the world.

Regardless, Facebook is most likely going to have great difficulty making any gains in China as long as it remains blocked there.  In this regard, it's important to consider how Facebook's impact in Taiwan may be influencing the Chinese government.  As I've shown before, it can certainly influence some Chinese people.  So, if the Chinese government is now viewing Taiwan as a test case does it believe Facebook is only a "safe" social gaming site there?  I doubt it.  Not only has Facebook been rapidly gaining popularity in Taiwan for its social gaming, but it's becoming increasingly ingrained into another area in which Taiwan greatly differs from Mainland China: politics.  Paul Mozur writes:
President Ma Ying-jeou opened his official Facebook fan page on Jan. 28, using the social network to disseminate videos of his speeches, provide updates on his activities and offer sometimes fiery responses to criticism from the local press. Other high profile politicians with official Facebook pages include Taiwan’s first democratically elected president, Li Teng-hui, and opposition Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidates Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang. Meanwhile, groups from aboriginal associations to environmental activists and students upset about new mandatory Confucian curriculum use the space as a forum to plan activities and distribute petitions.

Far from being a force for revolution as social networking sites have become in the Middle East, Facebook in Taiwan is in the process of being fully integrated into its democratic system. But the myriad ways the site has proven a powerful tool for organizing people and Taiwan’s cultural and linguistic closeness to China is likely to give Chinese officials pause when considering whether to allow Facebook to enter China. Most likely that means any plan for Facebook would have to include self-censorship and cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party that would earn the company a healthy dose of opprobrium in the U.S..
I agree that Facebook's role in Taiwanese political issues is "likely to give Chinese officials pause".

As I argued in an earlier post, even if a company that offers global social networking services has to censor in order to operate throughout China, its availability can provide important benefits.  However, something I didn't discuss at the time is that companies such as Facebook may be blocked in Mainland China even if they offer to censor material.  Issues such as competition or social gaming are all beside the point if the Chinese government simply won't allow Facebook, censored or not, to operate unblocked in Mainland China.  I'll comment more on this possibility in a later post.

For now, I'll just express again that Taiwan's Internet environment serves as a important comparison to Mainland China's.  I suspect some Chinese officials would agree.