Saturday, April 19, 2008

From Ancient Times, Taiwan Is A Part of China

Today at school was an interesting experience for me. This term, I have made it mandatory that each group from my 7 classes see me at least one time for about 10-15 minutes. Though this seemed like a reasonable idea at first, it has proven to be mixed success. Now, I hardly have any free time when I go to Pearl River College, because when I’m not eating or teaching my classes, I am meeting with students.

However, today I began what has turned out to be an interesting dialogue with one group of students. Yesterday, I saw on television that China is not “happy” with Taiwan’s recent purchase of fighter jets from the U.S. So, I wanted to understand my students’ reaction to this issue – the issue of Taiwan’s relationship with both the U.S. and China. Of course, they were inclined to believe that Taiwan is and has always been a part of China; yes, the same situation with Tibet.

Yet, these students were still interested to hear what I had to say. I told them what I feel most Westerners believe – that Taiwan really isn’t part of China. If only I could have had a camera ready to record their reactions to this viewpoint… “shock” as they later described to me in a letter they wrote me.

So, the second half of this “debate” proved to be the most interesting. As it turned out, some of the students with whom I met had class with me later the same day. When it was time to call it a day and end class, these students approached me rather quickly and suspiciously. I wasn’t quite sure what they wanted to say or do, but before I could even speak a word, they handed to me what seemed like a college essay for some exam… I must admit, I was equally “shocked” by their response to mine.

The letter goes like this (verbatim):

“Dear Michael,

We are writing this letter just want to tell you a serious thing… You said Taiwan is not a part of China. We are shocked and very sorry to hear that… Being a member of Chinese, we have the responsibility to defend our motherland’s territorial integrity… From ancient times, Taiwan is part of China…”

Furthermore, they wrote:

“All of Chinese people believe that Taiwan will come back to her mother’s embrace, it is an unchangeable fact.”

According to their history, “Although Taiwan was ever occupied by foreign force… Especially Taiwan was occupied for nearly 50 years by Japan in the World War II.”

Now, first, I must admit, I am very impressed by their response. The fact that they were able to discuss such a complex issue in English and went out of their way to write a page and a half on this issue automatically gains my respect. In fact, it is my intention to write back to them, hoping to clarify some details and also to encourage them to further investigate the issue.

Although I know freedom of access to information is somewhat limited in China, and that any form of dissent towards the government is prohibited, I feel that I have a slight duty in this matter. I intend to explain to them that, as humans, we have the right to think for ourselves; that we should defend our own opinions and viewpoints; that we should investigate an issue from different angles.

I don’t want to openly say that I think the Chinese government is “wrong”; that they are “wrong.” In fact, it’s hard to say who is “right” and who is “wrong.” However, I do want to express my views on history and thinking. Even for my own educational background, I can be sure that there are many flaws in my thinking.

However, I am willing (and able) to admit that history is very much political and not always balanced in view; that we have to come to our own conclusions given solid data and support for our viewpoints. As of now, I'm still not sure what to believe when it comes to the Taiwan issue. Although the Chinese raise a good argument -- that they were at civil war during the time that Jiang Jie Shi (Cheng Kai-Shek) fled to Taiwan in exile -- this war occurred before the establishment of the P.R.C. (People's Republic of China). Would it then be a civil war?

It will be interesting to see how China reacts to the world this August for the 2008 Olympics. Already, several countries have begun to put pressure on China to change its stance on human rights. I feel that it is only a matter of time until things do change… just as slavery has ended in the US (although remnants of it remain), so too will China's approach towards its people…


By the way, you can find more videos of me DJing at:

I decided to change my DJ name to "Mike Beeds" for various reasons; originality; avoiding the fatal error of mispronouncing "Blueshift." One of my friends at the club said he and his friends could have sworn that the MC called my name out as "Bullshit"... So, I think Mike Beeds will work better for me at the moment...

Taking The Time To Write

I apologize for neglecting to update my blog. Part of this is due to China's restrictions on blogging. Of course, part of it is also due to my laziness. However, Lily's grandfather and I had an interesting conversation this afternoon which reminded me of the importance of writing. He reminded me that it is important to take the time to write down your thoughts and experiences...

For Lily's grandfather, writing has become increasingly hard. Of course, he too is a bit lazy -- haha! But, I can understand that, with arthritis, dementia, and all the other unfortunate impairments that come with age, writing for Lily's grandfather is nearly impossible.

Today, he was recalling some old schoolmates he had in high school. Most of these classmates have since passed away, but during their time, some of them went on to become important figures in China. One of lao ye's classmates went on to become Tianjin's "president" (maybe lao ye meant mayor?). This classmate's aunt and uncle were also lao ye's teachers. He later starting naming different places he's been to in China (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guilin, etc.).

In any case, lao ye was explaining that he has had many experiences; he has seen many things in life. Part of his life now consists of remembering the good old days; remembering the time when he was younger and was very much full of life (much in the same way as I am now).

However, with time, we begin to lose some of our memories (at least the minor details). For this reason, it becomes almost necessary that we write down our memories; or, at least do something to recall these moments in time.

Lately, I have been doing pretty much the same that I set out to do when I came back to China -- teach English, learn Chinese, and DJ. So far, it has been a lot of fun. Of course, with any routine, it starts to get old after some time. In fact, last night, I had contemplated my time in the club; if I should continue with it or move on now that I have experienced it. You know, the lights, the noise, the crowdedness, the smoke -- it takes a toll on one's health.

More importantly, I thought about the kind of impact I am making with DJing. For me, DJing has become my new passion, and with most passions, I am always excited to take this passion to new heights. First, it was basketball; however, my height and overall athleticism quickly dispelled my pursuits. But now, I am actually working and making money from DJing. I am consistently playing to a crowd of people. Of course, should I continue with DJing, I would like to take it to the next level.

For me, it has become a task; a goal that I am constantly working towards. I am always thinking of different ways to improve myself; practicing as a DJ, figuring out ways to market myself as DJ. I have to admit, it has been pretty fun. You know, I have the time and opportunity to do it now in my life, so I'm taking full advantage of it. I sort of see it as building a kind of "empire" for myself, which is what most DJs typically do as they become more successful; create your own record label; produce tracks; market yourself through the web (YouTube, etc.); meet people and make connections.

It really is a lot of fun... but, at the end of the day, what have I accomplished? What have most successful DJs accomplished? Fame? Wealth? But, what about the kind of impact they make on everyday people? I was thinking, with the amount of effort and passion I have put towards DJing, why can't I put it towards something like human rights? Why can't I become an activist and work towards making a better world for everyone? What can a DJ do for starving children in Africa? I know the last one is a bit cliche, but it rings true -- we should always ask ourselves what we are doing for the greater good.

Then, I thought, what about the happiness and fun I bring to people every night I go out and play? Can't I create a sort of escape for people with my DJing? Anyway, these have been some thoughts I recently had (last night, as a matter of fact).

Other than that, I have thought more about the following year. I am 99% certain that I will go back to the states in August (or possibly July, not sure). I want to finish out my contract (which ends in June) and then I want to do some traveling in July. Brian -- are you still coming out??

When I return, I will most likely stay in Austin. Lily and I are probably going to get a place together and I will try to find a full-time job doing... what, I don't know, haha. But, as I have done so far, I will be sure to make it interesting and exciting. I don't expect my first real job to be exciting and well-paid. However, with my hobbies, my girlfriend, and friends and family, life will still be very good :)

Here's a video from my DJing last night: