Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Taiwan and his neighbors: Mainland China, Japan and Korea

A friend (Taiwanese, 29, male) of mine identifies with Japan and contempt for China to the extent that I find it incomprehensible and almost unusual. Then I had the second thought. This could somehow derives from my deliberate detachment to the island. The attachment to Japan and other understandable or incomprehensible phobia to other countries somehow are common among Taiwan people for decades, and for reasons.

My friends is a engineer, taking Japanese language courses and LOVE Sony Ericsson and anything of Japanese brand and label. Accordingly, as an Android smartphone lover, Sony is his first choice. Therefore he seems to have different standards about his theory on buying new technology stuff when the new thingie is made in Japan.

I was sort of surprised by his reaction, and made fun of him: 'You Japanese!' And his reply was even more startled.

'Thank you. I take that as a compliment.' 

Another thing is that we had a conversation about online social networks, such as Facebook and twitter, and how to use them to promote one's own products or ideas. Then I asked him if he had any idea how the Weibo (China's facebook or twitter and has billions of users) works. He simply replied with despise: 

'That Fake Twitter? I don't care. It's just a local network.'

How could you suggest a website with over1 billion users as a local social network? I started to rethink what I've seen and experience about people's attitudes and stereotypes of other nations during the recent 5 years. 

When I was studying in London, my flatmate, a Korean girl, once asked me with curiosity and discouragement, 'why is Taiwanese dislike South Korea? Did we do anything to upset you?'

Many of my Taiwanese friend in London shared the hostility towards people from China (not including HK and Macaw). 'They acted as your friends and became your enemies for interest.' 'I can't stand their sanitary condition.' 'Avoid talking politics, no matter how close you are.'

After the 311 devastating earthquake in Japan, Taiwan has been listed as the top one donor of all countries and is very proud of being 'a close and trustworthy friend of Japan'.

Let's review some simple facts of East Asia:

Taiwan, aka Republic of China, is a troubled nation state because it was colonised and modernised by Japan in the early 20th century and then taken over by the KMT government in exile from mainland China. 
Japan no doubt set a successful sample as the first modernised culture and economically developed country in East Asia. 
Both Taiwan and South Korea had been colonised by Japanese for more than 50 years.
South Korea has raised as a 'second Japan in Asia', showing the world that they're financially capable of change the world economy, with Samsung and LG.
As to the entertainment and show business, Japan has no doubt been the leader for years until South Korea endangered its status recently. But I reckon this should be discussed independently.*

Taiwan has rather intriguing and perplexing attitudes towards and relation with its neighbors, in many ways. It's not as politically powerful as China, not as financially influential as Japan, and not as ethnically proud as South Korea. The Taiwanese embrace Japan, and justify it with its postwar years ruled by the corrupted KMT government. Their education taught them that they are the legacy of Chinese culture, the real, authentic, not contaminated by the Communists. However, the recent years Taiwan seem not to be accepted as a real Chinese and constantly suffered from PRC's political prosecution and diplomatic boycott on its entrance into UN, WTO and other international organisation. It seems that either politically or culturally, Taiwan is not China, and they don't want to be just part of the communist nation. Because they're better, in the light of modernisation.

And speaking of the most modernised country in East Asia, Taiwan love Japan. Most Taiwanese, young or old, male or female, have a overwhelmingly positive impression on Japan, including its brand, technology, products, fashion, people, almost everything. People simply trust everything (and everyone) 'Made in Japan'. On the other hand, Taiwan has a rather suspicious attitude towards the burgeoning country and everything related to it. Further, it's likely that they hate China yet are not capable of doing anything against him, so we somehow swift our hostility from mighty China towards the 'once parallel (both politically and financially)' country--South Korea. For one thing, they replaced Taiwan's status in high-tech industry. For another, South Koreans share similarities on national pride, especially about sports.In other words, we can do nothing about China's bullying, but we can make South Korea an outlet for our unconscious our umbrage. For example, made-up news about how South Koreans government claims that Confucius is actually Korean, not Chinese.

* Japanese soap opera series, music and alike, along with its culture, are popular among mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea. It's rather interesting to see that most people listen to Japanese music, get crazy for the Japanese pop stars without speaking or reading Japanese. The same pattern applied to the South Korean show business culture of present days.
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