XINHUA (China), UNITED DAILY, CHINA TIMES (Taiwan)

Worldcrunch

TAIPEI - The Taiwanese are famous for being hard-working and creative when it comes to business. And thus the ongoing dispute between China and Japan has turned into an opportunity for the busy brains of Taiwan businessmen.

While the boycott of Japanese goods is growing, an emphasis on “MIT-Made in Taiwan” has suddenly become a strong selling point at the Nanjing Taiwan Trade Fair which opened last week.

Some Taiwanese manufacturers told the China Times that they specifically used to flaunt the fact that their goods had obtained Japanese patents, a certain guarantee of quality. The word Japan is now taboo. When a Chinese visitor saw cookware displayed with a label written in Japanese, he asked the manufacturer: “Is this Japanese or Taiwanese?! I’m not buying anything Japanese!”

Taiwan is in a particularly embarrassing situation as regards to the standoff over the Diaoyu Islands (called Senkaku Islands in Japan). The Nationalist Party, which makes up the current administration, and the Democratic Progressive Party, which proclaims an independent Taiwan, both claim that the Diaoyu Islands are part of Taiwan. Fishing boats set out this week for a symbolic assault on the islands.

As the anti-Japanese sentiment surges on, Chinese tour groups have one-by-one cancelled their trips to Japan, notably ahead of the Golden Week surrounding China's National Day. And just in time, huge banners have been hung over the busy Wangfujing district in Beijing proclaiming “Travel to Taiwan, it’s now!” According to the United Daily, the Taiwan Tourism Association is behind this particular advertising campaign.

Many travel agencies in Shanghai have had to deal with last-minute cancellations from clients who were booked for Japan. One agency manager confirmed to the Xinhua News agency that this represents 40% of their sales. Airlines have had to rearrange or even cancel entire flights to Japan.

Nevertheless, as a country unrecognized by the mainstream of the international community, Taiwan’s claim over these islands is an unheard voice. “It’s like dogs barking at the train,” as some Taiwanese would put it. Still, business is business.

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