US actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt recently asked for pictures of Taiwan for a project on his website, hitRECord.org, in a post to his Facebook page. Netizens have shared the post over 4,000 time and it has garnered over 21,000 reactions.
The photo he shared was a picture of the 2016 Taoyuan Lantern Festival in Taiwan, highlighting hundreds of red hanging lanterns above people’s heads.. The photo was originally taken by @kikishen and was shared as an example for people to post their own pictures of Taiwan for the project he on his site.
The post has caused quite a hub bub on social media. So much so that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs chimed in to praise the actor for his interest in Taiwan and also saying that “…he spoke to the media praising Taiwan’s #Coronavirus-fighting prowess.” MOFA also called for people to upload their own photos for the project on the site.
HitRECord is a platform for creators to find collaborators or make content directly on the site together. Contributors to projects that get monetized are able to share some of the profit from the venture. However Gordon-Levitt warns in his “HitRECord and money” that this isn’t going to be a way to make a living. Nevertheless its a great opportunity for anyone looking to fin projects to contribute to.
So Observers…… I have just been triggered…. call me a snowflake if you want, whatever floats your boat. I just saw a post in our TO – News from Taiwan group that got me miffed. This isn’t some “BREAKING NEWS” but I wanted to talk about it. Here we have some images of coming from the WHO, specifically World Health Organization Western Pacific Region, in which they mark Taiwan as “Taiwan, China”. In my eyes, unacceptable! Taiwan has done exceptionally well at keeping the pandemic from ravaging our society like so many other countries have experienced. Yet we still get pushed to the side by the WHO, which is supposed to represent the world, but then excludes 23 million people. The US was right to leave the organization, the WHO is a joke.
This got me thinking how does China still make this happen? They barely occupied the island (never having full control) before giving it up to Japan in perpetuity. The island then declared independence as the “Republic of Formosa” before the Japanese came to invade making us their first colony. [our up coming book will explain more, stay tuned for that]
The way this happens is through the buying of developing nations votes in UN organizations with massive loans and debt traps by China. That’s how China gets away with this nonsense. They basically tell these nations that they have to vote the way China votes and will punish them if they don’t. China often speaks of retribution to countries that don’t want to play their game. Now for a developing nation with little money and massive debt to China that threat is very real and can push them to do things that might not ideologically agree with, like excluding Taiwan from the WHO.
This aggressive diplomatic policy isn’t sitting well with countries all over the world and will have a bad end for China and their emperor if they continue on the path. But authoritarian regimes don’t have much other choice do they? They have to keep their people obedient and distracted. Causing problems and the blaming it on the outsiders is a go to in the authoritarian play book. We will have to wait and see how long they can keep it up.
Taiwan’s famous “Pokemon Go Grandpa” has upgraded his set up yet again. Mr. Chen, in his seventies, has now got a staggering 64 phones and space on his bike for over 70 phones. All of which are running the Pokemon Go mobile game.
The latest images were uploaded to Facebook. One poster captions the post with “The uncle has no limits since his Asus sponsorship.” Mr. Chen since going viral in 2018 became a brand ambassador for Asus and keeps adding more phones to his bike.
Attached to the front of his bike you can see a basket with the Asus ZenFone branding on it and a rack of mostly Asus Smartphones. This is a great partnership for Asus and they sure are getting their money’s worth considering the number of times this story has gone viral. Every time he adds more phones and his set up gets more awe inspiring, people want to know about it. It surely caught my attention and the attention of over 13,000 people in just over an hour in a single Facebook group!
Many in the comments are asking “Is it safe?” “Can the uncle see the road?”. Legitimate concerns seeing how large his set up has grown. From just a few phones on his bike to over 60 at a time now.
This begs the question: How large can his set up get? Maybe we will see him evolve again or may this is now his final form? We will have to wait and see.
In 2018 Chen first went viral for having 11 phones. Nintendo Soup has been keeping track of his upgrades and in January 2019 reported him as having 21 phones. June 2019 they reported he had 30 phone, in October of 2019 he had 45 phones. Now he has 64 phones and counting.
Note: Original Facebook post was deleted, here is another.
Local internet personalities, the Wackyboys, have released a new, longer version of their original blackface clip, which surfaced two weeks ago. The extended video, uploaded to their Facebook page and official YouTube channel, is almost 11 minutes long – fully edited with graphics and sound effects.
Soon after receiving backlash for their first video, which featured themselves in blackface imitating a popular meme of Ghanaian men dancing with a coffin, they removed it from their Facebook page. They also deleted photos from their Instagram account.
In the most recent video published on June 15th, they can be seen getting dressed, putting on make-up, and heading out to the streets. They asked several pedestrians to join them in the dance, and followed others around with their prop coffin.
Being a nuisance is not the problem here, though. Their use of blackface is the issue. Some of those who took part in a discussion regarding the first blackface incidenttalked about how we should give them a chance to learn and grow from their mistakes. Many were happy that they had chosen to delete their posts, and had issued apologies to those who spoke out via private messages. Those same people have reached out to me again, and this time, they are overcome by even greater disappointment and anger.
Several comments on the video are calling out the group for racism. One commenter called the video “messed up.” One posted a variant of the “That’s Racist” meme. Some tried to explain the situation, as many others had done before. Another commented: “This is discrimination. This is not entertainment…” and attached a link to an Apple Daily article about blackface. Another referenced the previous incident, and then said: “…At a time when we are fighting against all the injustices we have endured, you choose to make a mockery of us as black people? I don’t care how funny, or amusing the original video is, you could have done your skit/video without the use of blackface…”
Last time around, I said that these are times to educate, and urged people not to outright cancel them. This time, I can’t understand the reasoning. They had the chance to learn from their mistakes. They even went as far as to delete photos and videos. However, yet another video has been posted, this time longer and fully edited, meaning they had time to think about it, but chose to put up the video anyway.
BlackLivesMatter protests are currently unfolding in the United States and other parts of the world, including one in Taipei that we covered just a few days ago. These protests were sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others. Bearing this in mind, the Wackyboys’ decision to post this new video is particularly insensitive, especially since people have already tried to educate them on the history behind blackface, as well as the discrimination the black community faces on a daily basis.
The Black Lives Solidarity Rally this afternoon, June 13th, saw hundreds of demonstrators gather in the 2/28 Peace Park in Taipei. The rally was held in solidarity with all those demonstrating in the United States and around the world. Many demonstrators were from the expat community in Taiwan and the rally was held in English and Mandarin.
Demonstrations like these have popped up all over the world showing support for Black Lives Matter sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others. Speakers at the rally read off a list of names of people killed by the police in the United States, urging all to “Say Your Names”.
Musical performances, spoken word, and moments of silence were observed at the rally. Speakers gave insight into the systemic racism in the United states, higher incarceration rates for African Americans, reduced educational opportunities and more. They also touched on discrimination against aboriginals in Taiwan.
One moment of silence observed was for 8:46. This was the amount of time Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd. Another moment was taking a knee in a show of protest against police brutality.
There was a police presence at the rally, notably without riot gear or excessive numbers. They felt like peacekeepers and observers of a peaceful demonstration. Freedom of speech was well represented in Taiwan today.
Organizers made it clear ahead of time that this was not a political rally. So foreigners didn’t have to worry about getting in any sort of trouble for joining the rally.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic large gatherings have been restricted in Taipei. Last week saw the easing of some of those restrictions, particularly for gatherings over 500 people in outdoor spaces. Taiwan has seen only 443 cases and 7 deaths, and has gone 2 months without a local transmission, meeting the requirements for easing of restrictions. Organizers said they had the required permits from the police for the rally.
Something that struck me at the end of the rally was when the speaker asked us to tell the person standing next to us what we were going to do, a concrete action we were going to take, after today. Immediately a conversation was sparked. A conversation that hopefully moved people to act even if in just a small way.
A video posted to the Facebook page of a Kaohsiung -based restaurant shows a man in blackface promoting the upcoming recall election of mayor Han Kuo-Yu. In the video, the man, dressed in a suit and tie, and wearing a headband promoting the recall election, urges people to get out and vote, and reminds them to wear a mask when doing so. He also mentions in the video that he is playing Tedros, the WHO director General, and makes a pun about wearing your mask and wearing your pants.
Taiwan Observer contacted the restaurant and inquired about the posts. The Facebook page features a number of pictures of the owner dressed up in a variety of different costumes, mainly portraying local deities and other characters. When asked if he knew how offensive this particular costume was to the black community, he claimed that it was not his intention in any way to mock or ridicule black people.
He went on to explain that he often paints his face different colors when portraying characters. He referenced his Guan Yu (an ancient military general) costume, wherein he painted his face red, and stated that he also painted his face white in his depiction of Chang’e, goddess of the Moon. He reiterated that painting your face when playing certain characters is common practice, and compared it to painting your face white when playing Ronald McDonald. He claimed that his only goal was to raise awareness for the upcoming recall vote in Kaohsiung, and to get people to mask up, not to ridicule any group of people.
Judging by the comment section, it is clear that many still do not understand how derogatory the use of blackface is to the black community. However, some commenters have attempted to bring the issue to his attention. When one commenter asked if the use of blackface was really necessary, the page issued t he following response (translated): “I also paint my face red when playing Guan Yu…Just smile…Don’t make too much of a fuss…Hahahahahaha.”
This incident coincides with the Black Lives Matter protests currently unfolding in the United States and around the world, which were sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others.
Taiwan is now gaining more global recognition for its effective pandemic response and its push for soft power with mask diplomacy. Educating the public on issues important to the international community can only help to bring us closer to our allies.
*He has since deleted the video and issued the following apology (translated):
“Hello friends. I am the one who made the video that offended our black friends because of my ignorance towards our cultural differences. I apologize to the international community 120,000 points (times). I promise that I will do not this again. The post has been deleted. I am sorry.”
A few weeks ago, a dance group for a local nightclub, the “Luxy Boyz,” received backlash for performing in blackface. They were trying to emulate a popular meme of Ghanaian pallbearers dancing with a coffin, set to electronic music. The problem with this was the clear use of blackface, or darkening the skin to make oneself look “black,” which is historically associated with minstrel shows and discrimination towards people of African descent.
That being said, it seems the backlash towards the Luxy Boyz failed to educate the broader community, because just two days ago, on May 31st, another such incident occurred. Three men from a comedy group known as the “Wackyboys” took to the streets of Tianmu in Taipei, Taiwan, once again donning blackface.
The three men went to a department store in Tianmu, where they sported the same garb as the men in the meme, carrying a prop coffin, and danced. None of that is where the problem lies. Rather, the problem lies in the fact that these men did this while in blackface, which demonstrates their ignorance to how this is deeply offensive to the black community.
Unfortunately, the insult doesn’t stop there. One of the men from the group posted a picture to Instagram of them holding the coffin with the caption “My cotton is coming.” This part of the post was later edited out. Now, the man could have simply made a mistake, mistaking “cotton” for “coffin,” as English is not his first language; this is not a huge leap in logic. At the same time, this shows that the poster understands that this part of the post was discriminatory to African people and made the correction.
This begs the question: if he can understand that the reference to “cotton” is discriminatory, then it shouldn’t be a huge logical leap to see how his other actions are also discriminatory, right? Yet the post remained up and the video and pictures have weren’t deleted from Facebook or Instagram. (This has since changed)
The previous incident with the Luxy Boyz showed us that if you are willing to listen and educate yourself, you can make a change for the better. The Luxy Boyz have changed their routine since the backlash. They have kept the garb, the coffin, and the dance, but they have removed the blackface make-up. They also deleted the videos and issued a public apology. That is a step in the right direction.
As seen in the comment sections, many have yet to realize that the concept of blackface is not something to be taken lightly. Many find it hilarious. Some pointed out the need for a fourth person to complete the group, and that three isn’t enough. A few are calling them out, explaining how and why blackface is offensive to the black community.
An insightful comment from a local musician, @kerilmusic tries to explain to the men that their actions are discriminatory, even going so far as to provide a full history lesson on the topic, complete with resources, to help them better understand why their actions are discriminatory and why they cannot be tolerated. The comment received almost 100 likes on the Instagram post, before deletion.
When contacted by Taiwan Observer, @kerilmusic said he is deeply disappointed that he has not received a response from the Wackyboys, and added that this is particularly tone-deaf and insensitive, considering the BlackLivesMatter protests currently unfolding in the United States and other parts of the world.
These protests were sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others. The protests have been extensively covered by news outlets around the world, so it is not hard to believe that these career “influencers” have not seen what’s been going on.
However one of the group did respond to a fan saying that they did not mean to ridicule anyone and that they have deleted the posts. The Facebook video and Instagram posts have since been removed, but at the time of writing this, the Facebook photos remain visible to the public.
This isn’t to say that we condone sending hate messages to the Wackyboys or anyone else guilty of ignorance. We can use this opportunity, as @kerilmusic and many others did, to educate those that may still be ignorant, instead of calling for them to be “canceled” outright. The group has already started removing their posts, but they have yet to issue an apology. We will keep you posted if they do.
TAIWAN CAN HELP- From the New York Times to the skies of Sydney to being printed on the millions of boxes of masks sent to dozens of countries – this slogan is everywhere! And soon you can find it on bikers’ t-shirts and flags during a rally dedicated to Taiwan’s COVID-19 success.
Yes, Taiwan can help share the success of dealing with the grim pandemic that has taken the world by a storm this year. With millions of people affected by the novel Coronavirus around the globe, this tiny island has risen like a roaring lion. Learning from its previous SARS-2003 epidemic and the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the island was well prepared with the appropriate laws in place, timely tracking of the outbreak in China, scrupulous monitoring and testing, and effective treatment in well-equipped hospitals.
However, Taiwan did not just bask in the glory and praise it received from around the world in effectively dealing with COVID-19, it has gone many steps further and is sharing its technical know-how and equipment with other countries. Taiwan might have been excluded from the WHO but it has refused to be isolated. Taiwan has provided more than 16 million medical masks to support medical professionals around the world and has worked together with the US and the EU on the most advanced rapid tests and vaccines for COVID-19.The Indian community in Taiwan has felt touched by how Taiwan has treated citizens, residents and tourists alike- with respect, dignity and compassion. Taiwan has seemed like the safest place to live on earth during these tumultuous times. We have felt proud to be living in a country that was one of the few who reached out to Red Cross Society of India and sent 1 million masks to protect its vulnerable medical personnel. We want not only our fellow citizens back home but also the whole world to know how much we appreciate this beautiful island that we call home. We hope that the world will take notice of this event and support Taiwan in every way possible as it is not just Taiwan, but the rest of the world too which gains from being inclusive.
On June 13th, hundreds of members of the Indian community from all walks of life will come together in the form of a motorbike and car rally to show our appreciation to the government and people of Taiwan. The event is organized and supported by the different Indian associations of Taiwan. This is the first time any foreign community living in Taiwan is coming out and saying thanks to Taiwan.
Some weeks ago the Director General of the WHO (World Health Organization) Dr. Tedros Adhamon Ghebreyesus accused Taiwan of racial attacks against him. He even went as far as to say the Taiwanese government was complicit in this racist campaign against him by not denouncing it and even encouraging it. Taiwan denied this. Following these baseless accusations, he failed to provide evidence of his claims. My guess is that his Chinese handlers showed him a few posts floating around there on the internet and told him they came from Taiwan. Also, he felt personally attacked because a petition to have him resign as the head of the WHO, for his many failures, had been launched by someone in Taiwan. The petition had garnered over a million signatures by the time it was closed by the creator, Osaka Yip. I signed that petition and I hope you did too.
Only the problem for him, yet again, is that his words have come back to bite him. In the same week that he was chastising Taiwan with the now infamous phrase, “This attack came from Taiwan” (which had a great hashtag associated with it ,#ThisAttackCameFromTaiwan), China’s government instituted a controversial and entirely racist crackdown of African migrants living in China. Restaurants refused to serve black people, landlords evicted African tenants and left them homeless, Africans were being forcibly tested for the coronavirus, and stores refused them entry. The situation got well out of control with many African nations, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and more raising the issue with Chinese authorities. Some nations, like Nigeria, even summoned Chinese ambassadors and demanded they respond to the allegations. In hindsight, it seems like it was mostly for show, as many didn’t go further than that. But we’ll see.
Too much reading? Watch the video!
Yet Dr. Tedros has remained silent on the issue. Almost as if he isn’t allowed to speak of it, akin to the time Dr. Bruce Aylward pretended not to hear questions about Taiwan and hung up on an RTHK journalist when she repeated her questions…only to answer a follow-up call and insist that he had already spoken about China…which Taiwan is not a part of.
He was quick to condemn the Taiwanese and our authorities for the petition and what he perceived as a racist virtual attack towards Africans from Taiwan, which he claimed was sparked by their discontent with his directorship of the WHO. At the same time, he has kept silent when an actual racist attack is being perpetrated by the Chinese government. The hypocrisy is astounding!
Let me see if I can offer some explanation as to why this could be. We already know how the Chinese government operates in the UN and other international organizations on all matters regarding Taiwan. And how they constantly bully or as they would say “use the carrot and stick method” to push their “One China” propaganda on the world. To better understand this situation, we can take a closer look at Tedros himself.
He was the Minister of Health for Ethiopia, his home country, from 2005 to 2012, during which he had been accused of covering up cholera outbreaks in the country. However, he was also praised for helping in sharply reducing the mortality rate of AIDS and TB patients, and helping to open up thousands of new health centers and 30 new medical universities(DW report). He then became the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving from 2012 to 2016. The following year, he was appointed WHO Director General, and has held the position since.
An important bit of context to note is that Ethiopia’s current government is headed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, who came into power in 1991 after overthrowing the previous regime, the “People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia”; the Front has held the seat of power ever since. They considered themselves to be Marxist-Leninist until 1990 when they rebranded and began to operate under a revolutionary democracy Tigray nationalism framework. This was after the fall of the Soviet Union, when “communism” became less popular.
The reason for breaking out his resume and talking about his government is to show that he undoubtedly made friends with Chinese government officials during his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He must have spent a great deal of time with them, seeing as China is the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) partner they have in the country, accounting for about 60 percent of the newly-approved foreign projects in the East African country during 2019, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Report 2020. This is the 4th largest investment China has made in all of Africa. The FDI inflow amounted to $2.5 billion USD in 2019 and 3.3 billion in 2018. That’s a lot of money.
It isn’t hard to see how China would be able to pull the strings on Tedros, as they often threaten to hurt the economies of countries that don’t regurgitate their propaganda. This might also help explain why he praises China and sticks to the CCP narrative as much as possible. He doesn’t really have a choice, does he? And who knows – maybe he has personal investments that could be in jeopardy if he rubs the CCP the wrong way, but there is no way to prove that definitively at this time. The CCP, however, will keep investing in Ethiopia, as it is the home to the African Union and it pays to have influence in the country that houses the political center of Africa.
To conclude, Dr. Tedros Adhamon Ghebreyesus is a massive hypocrite and destroys his own credibility daily with his actions as the Director General of the World Health Organization, and doesn’t need help from Taiwan and its nationals to do so. He is quite capable of finding ways to prove his hypocrisy all on his own. This incident is just one of many and more to come.
by Vincent Lovell
Portion of the cover photo was taken from artists @nagee
During a press conference with CECC (Central Epidemic Command Center) on Wednesday, March 18th, Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu announced that all foreign nationals will be banned from entering Taiwan for the foreseeable future. This does not apply to those who are residents of the country (ARC and APRC holders), diplomatic officials, and business people with special entry documents.
Chen Shih-chung, head of the CECC, also announced that all travelers arriving in Taiwan will be subject to a 14-day quarantine regardless of whether they are a Taiwanese citizen or not, or where they are entering from.
Previously the Vice Labor Minister Lin San-quei said migrant workers who have traveled outside of Taiwan will also see a temporary ban from returning until the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic subsides. This ban will commence on Thursday, the 19th of March. Migrant workers in Taiwan who wish to travel abroad will no longer be issued a re-entry permit by the National Immigration Agency Ministry of Labor.