When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

How The Coming Taiwan Election Is Being Read (And Misread) On Mainland China

Essay: A Beijing-based Taiwanese writer picks apart the twisted attempts by mainlanders to make sense out of Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election.

Ma Ying-jeou, the current president of Taiwan
Ma Ying-jeou, the current president of Taiwan
Gong Ling

BEIJING - I am always attentive when Chinese start talking about Taiwan's upcoming presidential election. But yet again, I get the impression that the Chinese, in both high and not-so-high places, don't really understand what is happening on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

Having learned from past experience, the Chinese government is playing it low key this time around. But in its own careful way, China is quietly hoping that Ma Ying-Jeou, the current Taiwanese president who is the Kuomintang (‘KMT" Nationalist Party) candidate, will be re-elected. This is based on the orthodox "Greater China" tradition that aims at strengthening ties among the Chinese-speaking territories. Almost all the Chinese conversations I hear, whether from the streets or on the Internet, are based on this same logic.

Somehow, from a political and historical viewpoint, it is rather odd for the Chinese authorities to be criticizing Ms. Tsai Ing-Wen, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, who is running against the incumbent. Beijing considers that the Republic of China in Taiwan has been effectively finished and superseded by the People's Republic of China (PRC). So according to China's logic, the DPP simply shouldn't exist. If we use spatial concepts as a metaphor, the PRC exists in a three-dimensional world yet finds itself criticizing something in a fourth dimensional world that, theoretically at least, it's not supposed to see. This is strange indeed.

The Chinese authorities also have a funny attitude towards President Ma Ying-jeou. According to the prevailing teaching in schools, and the political ideology in China since 1949, the KMT are reactionaries. Although cross-strait relations have improved in recent years, the KMT is still generally considered as rebellious. How can one express goodwill on one hand, and stimulate mass hatred towards the KMT on the other?

The elite officials in the KMT are predominantly native Taiwanese. The KMT has been beaten by the DPP in two presidential elections since 2000, and it has gone through several reorganizations, so it is no longer the same party that left China 62 years ago. Pretending that the KMT is still the same party that left China in 1949 is very unrealistic. Ma Ying-Jeou himself would almost certainly agree.

Another point is the way the Chinese regard the candidacy of James Soong. He is a pro-Chinese reunification candidate, a former high-ranking official who fell out with the KMT and founded his own small party, the People First Party. Many believe he is dishonest and denounce him for running a campaign as political revenge on President Ma for sacrificing "national interests."

Whether or not Mr. Soong is dragging down Mr. Ma, or up to some other kind of trickery, is hard to prove. But one thing is worth noting: Mr. Soong says what's needed most is reunification. Still, even though he is most in line with the Chinese people, his candidacy is much criticized in Beijing.

It's hard to imagine anyone proclaiming the reunification of Taiwan and China with as much fervor as Mr. Soong. So why are the mainlanders criticizing him so strongly? This too is not clear.

Many on the mainland profess to be experts on Taiwan's politics. Yet few consider how this election might look from the Taiwanese viewpoint. That's why reading their commentaries is like someone scratching your feet with your boots still on. Or put more bluntly: if your own viewpoint is based on false premises, you will understand little of how Taiwanese will react. It is the difference between being a player on the field, and a supporter up in the stands.

Read the original article in Chinese

Photo - Wikipedia

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Women in Italy are living longer than ever. But severe economic and social inequality and loneliness mean that they urgently need a new model for community living – one that replaces the "one person, one house, one caregiver" narrative we have grown accustomed to.

Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones.

Barbara Leda Kenny

ROMENina Ercolani is the oldest person in Italy. She is 112 years old. According to newspaper interviews, she enjoys eating sweets and yogurt. Mrs. Nina is not alone: over the past three years, there has been an exponential growth in the number of centenarians in Italy. With over 20,000 people who've surpassed the age of 100, Italy is in fact the country with the highest number of centenarians in Europe.

Life expectancy at the national level is already high. Experts say it can be even higher for those who cultivate their own gardens, live away from major sources of pollution, and preferably in small towns near the sea. Years of sunsets and tomatoes with a view of the sea – it used to be a romantic fantasy but is now becoming increasingly plausible.

Centenarians occupy the forefront of a transformation taking place in a country where living a long life means being among the oldest of the old. Italy is the second oldest country in the world, and it ranks first in the number of people over eighty. In simple terms, this means that Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones: those over 65 make up almost one in four, while children (under 14) account for just over one in 10. The elderly population will continue to grow in the coming years, as the baby boomer generation, born between 1961 and 1976, is the country's largest age group.

But there is one important data set to consider when discussing our demographics: in general, women make up a slight majority of the population, but from the age of sixty onwards, the gap progressively widens. Every single Italian over 110 years old is a woman.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest