Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The contrast across the Taiwan Strait

People watch a water show outside Longshan Temple
How Taiwanese and Chinese behave in the face of political crises is yet another sign of the huge identity gap that exists in the Taiwan Strait 

Four Japanese and a Chinese co-worker were enjoying a quiet dinner on Thursday when, out of nowhere, a group of people approached them and roughed them up, the kicks and punches accompanied by queries — some warped idea of due process, perhaps — as to whether they were indeed Japanese. 

This “welcome” to China dispatched the Japanese and their Chinese friend, whose hand was apparently slashed by an assailant’s knife, to hospital. According to a Japanese consulate official, the attack may have been linked to the escalating tensions between China and Japan over the Diaoyutais (釣魚台). Given a series of similar attacks on all things Japanese across China in recent weeks, the official’s assessment was probably not too far off the mark. 

What is worrying about this latest incident is that it didn’t occur in some backwater, where lack of exposure to foreigners would perhaps explain the ignorance and xenophobia that led to the attack. No, it was perpetrated at the heart of China’s commercial hub, in “modern,” glitzy Shanghai. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here .

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