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Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in memory of the 600 brave cavalrymen who rode into the “Valley of Death” in the battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. A wrong order was given, but “Theirs was not to reply/Theirs not to reason why/Theirs but to do and die.” I am not that brave. Nobody gave me any order, right or wrong. But I have reasoned why I had to write “A New History of Taiwan” in English and Japanese.
In 1999, when Chen Shui-bian was all set to run for president, his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) issued a national defense policy white paper. Recently, so did Su Tseng-chang, DPP chairman and eager to seek Taiwan's highest public office in 2016. He called his defense building master plan a blue paper. It is the fifth in a series of party blue papers, and the best researched and written one.
William Randolph Hearst, the celebrated editor of the New York Journal who started yellow journalism together with Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World, defined news as something people want to talk about. Well, it's true, particularly in Taiwan, after Chiang Ching-kuo lifted the newspaper ban shortly before his death in 1988. So, pressmen in Taipei began telling a revealing gag: What readers you have, what news you print.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That's a pretty good translation of a quote by Ban Chao (班超), a great general, explorer and diplomat of the East Han Dynasty (32-102 A.D.), who gained control of the Tarim Basin region of Central Asia for China. The quote translated verbatim is: No venture into the tiger's den, no capture of a tiger cub (不入虎穴、不得虎子).
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rules six of the 22 cities and counties of Taiwan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is Japan's number one globe-trotting head of government. Since he took the helm of the government at the end of 2012, he has made diplomatic sallies to close to 30 countries around the world for bilateral and multilateral summit meetings.
The Chinese count the year by combining one of the ten Heavenly Stems (天干) and one of the twelve Earthly Branches (地支). The Chinese Lunar Year which started on Jan. 30 is the Year of Jia (甲) and Wu (午), the former being the first of the Heavenly Stems which identifies with Wood (木) and the latter being the seventh of the Earthy Branches which identifies with the Horse (馬).
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a lot of things to worry about. His Abenomics is losing steam. Now that Uncle Sam has turned cool in support he is campaigning against China for world support in Japan's dispute with China over the tiny Senkaku archipelago, which Beijing and Taipei claim as the Diaoyutais. Washington now tends to think Abe is a troublemaker. On top of all that, he has a new worry; Junichiro Koizumi, one of Japan's longest lasting prime ministers, and his mentor.
Shih Ming-teh, a former chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party, is a revolutionary at heart. He led the World Human Rights Day demonstration in Kaohsiung in 1979 to demand an end to President Chiang Ching-kuo's autocratic rule of Taiwan. Of course, he was arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison for treason. He was pardoned by President Lee Teng-hui, who later had the criminal code amended to exculpate anyone who just talks about a revolution but does not try to start one.
An escalating ambassadorial war of words between Japan and China has descended into a kind of “pot calling the kettle black” situation. In an opinion piece published in the Daily Telegraph last Monday, Tokyo's envoy to the United Kingdom Keiichi Hayashi compared China to Voldemort, the fictional evil wizard from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
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