Taiwan is the name of a large island off the south coast of Mainland China. The capital is Taipei, situated on the island's northern tip. Though many a Westerner couldn’t find Taiwan on a map, the island's population is larger than that of Australia.
Taiwan’s culture is in the main Chinese (both major languages spoken on the island are dialects of Chinese) but still the island remains outside the sway of Mainland Chinese rule. The government in Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its legitimate territory, but Taiwan stubbornly resists unification with a still undemocratic Mainland.
The island has developed a democratically pluralistic society which deserves the support of Western democracies. Taiwan--more than that authoritarian shopping mall called Singapore--offers the world an example of Chinese culture developing democratically. The Beijing government, unwilling to recognize anything like democratic pluralism, understandably considers the continued political existence of Taiwan as an ongoing slap in the face. A strained cooperation in matters of trade is the most the two sides have yet accomplished in their decades-long diplomatic wrangle.
A short distance over the water from where I write, the Mainlanders are stockpiling and upgrading their weapons in preparation for the day when they may feel compelled to take the island by force. No one knows if this day will come, or, if it does, what the outcome will be. Regardless of the steady political unease, life here is vibrant and a little zany, especially in the capital, Taipei.
The writings below make for most of what I've accomplished since arriving here in 1996. I'm an American English teacher and writer from Madison, Wisconsin.
SERIOUS CRACKPOT NOVEL:
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