Elbowing my way through the crowd of old ladies to grab my bag at the
luggage carousel in Hangzhou, I realized I had returned to real China. My
MTV Spring Break was spent in the fairy-tale land of the “other” China —
Taiwan. The small island off the southeast of the mainland is known for
being neither here nor there. No country dares recognize Taiwan as a country
but any country worth its weight has established “connections” with the
island which Beijing claims as part of the mainland.
And the intrigue about the rogue province is enormous. It’s a myth. Ever
wonder what China would look like with democracy and no population problems?
It’s China but civilized? People stand in lines. You get tickets from
automated machines. People aren’t trying to cheat you left and right with
fakes. Economically developed but without loss of vibrant culture.
On the other hand, for every custom that sets Taiwanese apart from the
mainland, there are at least two reasons to say that Taiwanese Chinese are
still fundamentally Chinese. They still sweep the graves of ancestors, still
superstitious, still celebrate family, still ambitious workers. And they
still pay tribute to the 5,000 years of history, the same history that the
mainland tips its hat to.
From my brief trip to Taiwan, I don’t see Taiwan declaring independence any
time soon no matter how many U.S. missiles are pointed at the mainland. Then
again, Taiwan is too proud to let Beijing lead the island no matter how good
the economic opportunities are.
…and it doesn’t help that the Taiwanese are up-in-arms that they are
losing Traditional Characters!
Picture of the Day: a couple eats soup dumplings at the night market in
Taipei. More photos to follow (slow internet in Hangzhou is making uploading