What I'm Reading About China's Uighur Concentration Camps

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Chinese government has described the detentions as a job training program aimed at providing employment opportunities for some of the country’s poorest people. But a list of more than 100 detained Uighur scholars compiled by exiles includes many prominent poets and writers, university heads and professors of everything from anthropology to Uighur history.
The removal of high-profile Uighur scholars familiar with the Chinese government, and the country’s education and legal systems, is aimed at erasing not only the group’s unique ethnic identity but also its ability to defend such traditions, said a Uighur professor now living in Istanbul who asked not to be identified because of possible risks to family in Xinjiang.
Turkey Demands China Close 'Concentration Camps' Holding Muslim Uighurs | Cagan Koc
The detention and “re-education” of as many as 1 million minority Muslim Uighurs in China’s far west has been condemned by human rights groups and prompted calls for sanctions from U.S. lawmakers, who reject China’s assertion that the camps are voluntary education centers that help purge “ideological diseases.”
Turkey calls on other countries and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take steps to end the “humanitarian tragedy” in Xinjiang, Aksoy said.
China’s brutal crackdown on the Uighur Muslim minority, explained | Jen Kirby for Vox
Uighurs speak their own language — an Asian Turkic language similar to Uzbek — and most practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam. Some activists, including those who seek independence from China, refer to the region as East Turkestan.
Once situated along the ancient Silk Road trading route, Xinjiang is oil- and resource-rich. As it developed along with the rest of China, the region attracted more Han Chinese, a migration encouraged by the Chinese government.
But that demographic shift inflamed ethnic tensions, especially within some of the larger cities. In 2009, for example, riots broke out in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, after Uighurs protested their treatment by the government and the Han majority. About 200 people were killed and hundreds injured during the unrest.
The Chinese government, however, blamed the protests on violent separatist groups — a tactic it would continue to use against the Uighurs and other religious and ethnic minorities across China.
The Exhibitionist: A guide to the Laogai Museum | Jessica Goldstein for Washington Post
Mao Zedong, inspired by the Soviet gulag model, instituted the Laogai system of forced labor in China in 1949. The Chinese Communist Party does not officially acknowledge the Laogai camps, which continue to operate.
“Reeducation through labor” The museum describes how prisoners in the Laogai are physically and psychologically coerced into accepting Communist Party ideology. “Laojiao,” which means “reeducation through labor,” is a type of administrative detention. Prisoners can be held for up to four years without formal conviction or judicial due process.
Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, torture | Simon Denyer for Washington Post
Inmates had to learn the national anthem and red songs, he said, as well as slogans condemning the “three evil forces” of separatism, extremism and terrorism. “There were so many things to recite, and if you couldn’t recite them, they wouldn’t allow you to eat, sleep or sit,” he said. “They brainwash you; you must become like a robot. Listen to whatever the party says, listen to the party’s words, follow the party.” Some inmates committed suicide, Bekali said. In one report, RFA quoted a Chinese official as justifying the widespread detentions in blunt terms. “You can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one by one — you need to spray chemicals to kill them all,” the official was quoted as saying. “Reeducating these people is like spraying chemicals on the crops. That is why it is a general reeducation, not limited to a few people.”
China's Hidden Camps | BBC News
There is no mention of the grounds on which the students have been chosen for this “study” or how long the courses last.
But there are clues.
The interviews sound more like confessions.
“I have deeply understood my own mistakes,” one man tells the camera, vowing to be a good citizen “after I get home”.
The main purpose of these facilities, we're told, is to combat extremism, through a mixture of legal theory, work skills and Chinese language training.
That last item shows that whatever you want to call them - schools or camps - the intended target is the same.
The facilities are exclusively for Xinjiang's Muslim minorities, many of whom do not speak Chinese as their mother tongue.
‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims | James Millward for The New York Review of Books
Since 1949, Chinese policies have tended to undermine indigenous Uighur Islam and to enforce, through the party-controlled Islamic Association of China, an idealized version of Islam modeled in part on Sunni practice as promoted by Saudi Arabia. Besides reflecting Beijing’s diplomatic ties with Riyadh, these policies may echo a traditional Chinese notion, derived from experience with Buddhistic millenarianism, that religions have safe “orthodox” and dangerous “heterodox” expressions. Although the CCP has since reversed course and rails against the dangers of “Arabization,” it has not revised its intolerance of Sufi practices in Uighur Islam. By repressing Uighur culture and discriminating against Uighurs, and inadvertently promoting a version of Islam more in line with Saudi practice, the PRC government has increased the attractiveness to Uighurs of Salafi ideas from outside while undermining indigenous defenses against such an ideology. Rahile Dawut, an internationally renowned ethnographer and scholar of Uighur culture and religion at Xinjiang University, could have explained this to Chinese authorities—but she was disappeared in late 2017, another victim of the current mass internment.
China’s Gulag for Muslims | Mustafa Akyol for The New York Times Opinion
There are three answers [to Muslim lenience towards China]. One is that coziness with China, the world’s second-largest economic power, pays. Moreover, China does not shy away from offering its economic assistance as hush money.
A second reason for Muslim silence is that the Chinese government crackdown on Uighurs is based on a premise that law and order can be restored by eradicating enemies of the government and traitors within a society. This is authoritarian language that most Muslim leaders understand well. It is their own language. The third reason is that most Muslims who are likely to feel solidarity with their oppressed coreligionists think of the oppressors as “the West,” defined as the capitalist, hedonist, Zionist civilization led by the Great Satan. These Muslims, particularly the Islamists, believe that all of their coreligionists should unite with other anti-Western forces — a stance that evokes Samuel Huntington’s prediction of a “Confucian-Islamic” alliance against the West in his 1993 article in “Foreign Affairs” titled “The Clash of Civilizations?”

At a loss for words ATM. Heart is heavy.

The Catalogue: No. 25

Monday, February 11, 2019

We mainlanders had a similar reaction to the Hong Kong that we saw in the movies and music videos of the eighties. A life so pampered, while enviable and thrilling, was also morally suspect, reeking of bourgeois individualism and other Western frivolities, such as democracy. In the decades since the handover, mainlanders who once eagerly anticipated the return of Hong Kong have visited this other China and been shunned the moment they open their mouths. The long-lost relatives have been reunited only to find that they have little in common.
Actor Rob Lowe: I was my sick mother's caregiver, don't underestimate the stress caregivers face | USA Today 
Many caregivers aren’t as lucky as I was. A recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving found that a third of caregivers in America do it alone, without any paid or unpaid help — and this uphill battle can lead to a domino effect of health and financial problems for the caregivers themselves.
When you’re caring for a loved one, there’s nothing you won’t do (or sacrifice) to give them as much comfort and peace of mind as you can possibly provide. Often, that means you’ll skip your social obligations, wreck your diet, suffer sleep deprivation, and even risk your career, all to help a loved one through the most difficult time of their life.
Related (mine): Self Care for Caregivers
You can do this. You are so good and brave, and you will never, ever regret this kindness. Do a little bit of what you love when you can. Step back when you need to. You will get through it all. You are the person someone prayed for. You are the reason someone is still alive. You are more than this role. Your life is still your own.

Missing Hope: A Trio of Miscarriages, and What Happened After | Laura Turner for Catapult 
Most of all, they don’t tell you that fear, to reverse a phrase from C. S. Lewis, will feel so like grief, and so you begin to mourn what you have not yet lost, because mourning prematurely is the only way to protect yourself from hope. You steel yourself against strangers who ask when you are due, against diaper commercials and well-meant but too-early baby gifts, against advice from friends about what to do once he’s here. You don’t understand, you think. He will never be here.
The End of the American Chinatown | Alana Semuels for The Atlantic
The developments in Chinatowns may appear to preserve some of this culture, but the new restaurants and apartments are sometimes so expensive that they are no longer accessible to the people who created the community in the first place. In Los Angeles, for instance, the Blossom Plaza apartment complex has red lanterns hanging in the courtyard, which allows Brookfield Properties, which owns the building, to advertise “the look you want in a Chinatown LA apartment.” But even the Blossom Plaza apartments that are set aside as “affordable” may be too expensive for current Chinatown residents; a studio for one person is targeted at people with an income of $20,350, while the median household income in Chinatown is $19,500. Residents of 651 Broadway told me that some of the stores they had depended on are getting pushed out, including two low-cost grocery stores. Instead, there are boba tea shops, art galleries, a wine bar, and a much-heralded new Asian fusion restaurant that features a $144 steak. The neighborhoods may still look like Chinatowns, Leong said, but are really just “Disneyfied” versions of the neighborhoods they once were.
Esmé Weijun Wang on Karaoke, Work Ethic, and Returning to Fiction | R.O. Kwon for Lit Hub
My relationship with ambition is complicated, and you’re right that it’s so different to have ambition for the work itself, versus ambition for what happens with the work once it’s out in the world. I don’t love this about myself, but a lot of my ambition is driven by a form of recognition; it’s also true, though, that I want the work itself to be impeccable, and for it to be up to my own standards. And I’ve also been questioning, lately, whether ambition is even a “good” characteristic to begin with, or if it’s just another outcome of a capitalist society, such as having a strong work ethic. But for now, it’s still a part of me. It still drives me, and I like that it’s a part of me. 

Love always,

The Catalogue: No. 24

Sunday, January 27, 2019

This Catalogue is dedicated to all the boys I have ever bought presents for. Whether it was my best friend's birthday or Valentine's Day or Christmas or Father's Day, I have had to buy gifts for guys who either didn't tell me what they wanted or didn't know what they wanted. To be honest, I think I've done a pretty good job over the years with my gift giving abilities!

Meal / Gift Card / Venmo Payment | $
This seems silly, but sometimes it's nice to give a friend $10 to buy some McDonald's or coffee or a drink. Based on what your friend likes, the gift can still seem relatively personal. Maybe treat them to their next Chipotle lunch or Taco Bell drunchie snack!

Socks | $
This gift might seem weird, but socks are something people won't go out of their way to purchase for themselves but frequently need. I love buying people socks, not just boys!

Gift Box | $ - $$
Prep a box of amazing, individualized goodies! Some items ~inspiration~ that you can include are chocolate bars, candy, soap, chapstick, coffee, etc. Put a limit on how much you want to spend (e.g. $15) and then buy a bunch of different items until you hit that amount! This is an easy way to personalize a gift when you only have time to stop by a CVS or Target. Still super thoughtful if you know the person well enough to know what they like and super easy because most people love gum and candy bars.

Tie Clip | $-$$
Many guys don't realize they need one, until they're wearing their suit and tie for the first time in forever. This is an easy gift as you can buy cheaper ones from Amazon or engraved ones from a nicer store! Many department stores like Macy's also sell them.

Massage | $$-$$$
Until you get a massage, you don't know how much tension your body has been holding and how life changing a massage can be. Find a place through Yelp or Groupon is another place with a ton of massage discounts.

Ray-Bans | $$-$$$
Most people I know all need a pair of classic sunglasses. I loved giving Ray-Ban Clubmasters to one of my best friends, because I know he appreciated my gift and is putting the sunglasses to good use every time he wears them. Even though they're a little pricier, you can sometimes get them on sale for around $70-80 which is not a bad price to split with 3-4 other people!

Some other ideas are: cologne, a backpack, a phone case, boxers, baking mixes, meat thermometers (or other cooking tools)!

Happy gift giving,

Filipino American Literature is Amazing. Here's Where to Start.

Monday, January 14, 2019

“You already know that the first thing that makes you foreign to a place is to be born poor in it; you don't need to emigrate to America to feel what you already felt when you were ten, looking up at the rickety concrete roof above your head and knowing that one more bad typhoon would bring it down to crush your bones and the bones of all your siblings sleeping next to you; or selling fruit by the side of the road to people who made sure to never really look at you, made sure not to touch your hands when they put the money in it. You've been foreign all your life. When you finally leave, all you're hoping for is a more bearable kind of foreignness.”

It's my fault. It's on me that for all my glee about the "Asian American Book Club," I've under-sourced and horribly neglected outliers of the East Asian American canon. But I'm here now, and I'm shell-shocked by all I've missed.

Filipino American literature is astoundingly complex. I know all cultures contain multitudes, but these narratives span migrant labor, American military occupation, martial law, Spanish colonization, immigration, Catholicism, nursing, etc.
Below, my personal selection of Fil-Am literature in all its painful, triumphant glory (if you only have time for one, my favorite was America Is Not the Heart):

Big Little Man | Alex Tizon
Alex Tizon landed in an America that saw Asian women as sexy and Asian men as sexless. Immigrating from the Philippines as a young boy, everything he saw and heard taught him to be ashamed of his face, his skin color, his height. His fierce and funny observations of sex and the Asian American male include his own quest for love during college in the 1980s, a tortured tutorial on stereotypes that still make it hard for Asian men to get the girl. Tizon writes: "I had to educate myself on my own worth. It was a sloppy, piecemeal education, but I had to do it because no one else was going to do it for me."
And then, a transformation. First, Tizon’s growing understanding that shame is universal: that his own just happened to be about race. Next, seismic cultural changes – from Jerry Yang’s phenomenal success with Yahoo! Inc., to actor Ken Watanabe’s emergence in Hollywood blockbusters, to Jeremy Lin’s meteoric NBA rise.
Finally, Tizon’s deeply original, taboo-bending investigation turns outward, tracking the unheard stories of young Asian men today, in a landscape still complex but much changed for the Asian American man.

The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race | Anthony Christian Ocampo
Is race only about the color of your skin? In The Latinos of Asia, Anthony Christian Ocampo shows that what "color" you are depends largely on your social context. Filipino Americans, for example, helped establish the Asian American movement and are classified by the U.S. Census as Asian. But the legacy of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines means that they share many cultural characteristics with Latinos, such as last names, religion, and language. Thus, Filipinos' "color"—their sense of connection with other racial groups—changes depending on their social context.
The Filipino story demonstrates how immigration is changing the way people negotiate race, particularly in cities like Los Angeles where Latinos and Asians now constitute a collective majority. Amplifying their voices, Ocampo illustrates how second-generation Filipino Americans' racial identities change depending on the communities they grow up in, the schools they attend, and the people they befriend. Ultimately, The Latinos of Asia offers a window into both the racial consciousness of everyday people and the changing racial landscape of American society.

America Is Not the Heart | Elaine Castillo
Three generations of women from one immigrant family trying to reconcile the home they left behind with the life they're building in America.
lluminating the violent political history of the Philippines in the 1980s and 1990s and the insular immigrant communities that spring up in the suburban United States with an uncanny ear for the unspoken intimacies and pain that get buried by the duties of everyday life and family ritual, Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakable power of the past. In a voice as immediate and startling as those of Junot Diaz and NoViolet Bulawayo, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful telenovela of a debut novel. With exuberance, muscularity, and tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave home to grasp at another, sometimes turning back.

Gun Dealers' Daughter | Gina Apostol
Soon after she leaves home for university in Manila, Soledad Soliman (Sol) transforms herself from bookish rich girl to communist rebel. But is her allegiance to the principles of Mao or to Jed, the comrade she’s in love with? Can she really be a part of the movement or is she just a “useful fool,” a spoiled brat playing at revolution?
Far from the Philippines, in a mansion overlooking the Hudson River, Sol confesses her youthful indiscretions, unable to get past the fatal act of communist fervor that locked her memory in an endless loop. Rich with wordplay and unforgettable imagery, Gun Dealers’ Daughter combines the momentum of an amnesiac thriller with the intellectual delights of a Borgesian puzzle. In her American debut, award-winning author Gina Apostol delivers a riveting novel that illuminates the conflicted and little-known history of the Philippines, a country deeply entwined with our own.

The Body Papers | Grace Talusan 
Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather’s nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family. Talusan learns as a teenager that her family’s legal status in the country has always hung by a thread—for a time, they were “illegal.” Family, she’s told, must be put first.
The abuse and trauma Talusan suffers as a child affects all her relationships, her mental health, and her relationship with her own body. Later, she learns that her family history is threaded with violence and abuse. And she discovers another devastating family thread: cancer. In her thirties, Talusan must decide whether to undergo preventive surgeries to remove her breasts and ovaries. Despite all this, she finds love, and success as a teacher. On a fellowship, Talusan and her husband return to the Philippines, where she revisits her family’s ancestral home and tries to reclaim a lost piece of herself.
Not every family legacy is destructive. From her parents, Talusan has learned to tell stories in order to continue. The generosity of spirit and literary acuity of this debut memoir are a testament to her determination and resilience. In excavating and documenting such abuse and trauma, Talusan gives voice to unspeakable experience, and shines a light of hope into the darkness.

Dogeaters | Jessica Hagedorn
In Dogeaters, Jessica Hagedorn has transformed her best-selling novel about the Philippines during the Marcos reign into an equally powerful theatrical piece that is a multilayered, operatic tour de force. As Harold Bloom writes "Hagedorn expresses the conflicts experienced by Asian immigrants caught between cultures...she takes aim at racism in the U.S. and develops in her dramas the themes of displacement and the search for belonging."
"As sharp and fast as a street boy's razor" (The New York Times Book Review), Dogeaters is an intense fictional portrayal of Manila in the heyday of Marcos, the Philippines' late dictator. In the center of this maelstrom is Rio, a feisty schoolgirl who will grow up to live in America and look back with longing on the land of her youth.

In the Country: Stories | Mia Alvar
These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories from Mia Alvar, a remarkable new literary talent, vividly give voice to the women and men of the Filipino diaspora. Here are exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere—and, sometimes, turning back again.
A pharmacist living in New York smuggles drugs to his ailing father in Manila, only to discover alarming truths about his family and his past. In Bahrain, a Filipina teacher drawn to a special pupil finds, to her surprise, that she is questioning her own marriage. A college student leans on her brother, a laborer in Saudi Arabia, to support her writing ambitions, without realizing that his is the life truly made for fiction. And in the title story, a journalist and a nurse face an unspeakable trauma amidst the political turmoil of the Philippines in the 1970s and ’80s.
In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s powerful debut collection explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined. Deeply compassionate and richly felt, In the Country marks the emergence of a formidable new writer.

America Is in the Heart: A Personal History | Carlos Bulosan
First published in 1946, this autobiography of the well known Filipino poet describes his boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America, and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West. Bulosan does not spare the reader any of the horrors tha accompanied the migrant's life; but his quiet, stoic voice is the most convincing witness to the terrible events he witnessed.

Brooklyn Antediluvian: Poems | Patrick Rosal
Rosal finds trouble he isn’t asking for in his unforgettable new poems, whether in New York City, Austin, Texas, or the colonized Philippines of his ancestors. But trouble is everywhere, and Rosal, acclaimed author of My American Kundiman, responds in kind, pulling no punches in his most visceral, physical collection to date. “My hand’s quick trip from my hip to your chin, across / your face, is not the first free lesson I’ve given,” Rosal writes, and it’s true—this new book is full of lessons, hard-earned, from a poet who nonetheless finds beauty in the face of violence.

Delivered: Poems | Sarah Gambito
Electric new verse from the winner of the 2005 Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry.
Both surrealistic and urgently on-point, these boisterous poems comprise an identity crisis in the age of New Media. Sarah Gambito writes with verve on the complicated collision of ethnicity, sex, immigration, and nationality, her playfulness and pop-culture savvy offering cover for her surprise attacks of direct, even confrontational engagement: "Am I frightening you?" she asks. "I'm frightening you. // Good and good and good and good.

Insurrecto | Gina Apostol
Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War. Chiara is working on a film about an incident in Balangiga, Samar, in 1901, when Filipino revolutionaries attacked an American garrison, and in retaliation American soldiers created “a howling wilderness” of the surrounding countryside. Magsalin reads Chiara’s film script and writes her own version. Insurrecto contains within its dramatic action two rival scripts from the filmmaker and the translator—one about a white photographer, the other about a Filipino schoolteacher.
Within the spiraling voices and narrative layers of Insurrecto are stories of women—artists, lovers, revolutionaries, daughters—finding their way to their own truths and histories. Using interlocking voices and a kaleidoscopic structure, the novel is startlingly innovative, meditative, and playful. Insurrecto masterfully questions and twists narrative in the manner of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch, and Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Apostol pushes up against the limits of fiction in order to recover the atrocity in Balangiga, and in so doing, she shows us the dark heart of an untold and forgotten war that would shape the next century of Philippine and American history.

Lolas' House: Filipino Women Living with War | M. Evelina Galang
During World War II more than one thousand Filipinas were kidnapped by the Imperial Japanese Army. Lolas’ House tells the stories of sixteen surviving Filipino “comfort women.”
M. Evelina Galang enters into the lives of the women at Lolas’ House, a community center in metro Manila. She accompanies them to the sites of their abduction and protests with them at the gates of the Japanese embassy. Each woman gives her testimony, and even though the women relive their horror at each telling, they offer their stories so that no woman anywhere should suffer wartime rape and torture.
Lolas’ House is a book of testimony, but it is also a book of witness, of survival, and of the female body. Intensely personal and globally political, it is the legacy of Lolas’ House to the world.

TW1: China Basically Threatened War on Taiwan (and other news)

01. If You Like Betting on Embattled Underdogs, This Leader is Worth A Look | David Ignatius for The Washington Post
What can the United States do to help Taiwan, whose plucky spirit is impossible not to admire? One thing is simply to pay more attention to the island, which exists in a kind of political netherworld. That was one purpose of the bipartisan trip here this week, organized by the German Marshall Fund and led by Sullivan, which I accompanied. (I’m a German Marshall Fund trustee.)
What else makes sense, if you’re betting on the underdog? The United States should think about signing a free-trade agreement with Taiwan, which could encourage other countries to do the same. Hopefully, China won’t seek a military confrontation. “I don’t think Xi is there yet,” said Tsai. “He thinks there are other ways to attain the same objective.”
Sometimes just treading water is the best strategy. As Tan Sun Chen, head of a government-linked think tank here called the Prospect Foundation, told us: “ ‘Status quo’ is a major word. It means we get to preserve our country. If we say ‘independence,’ that goes too far.” That sense of balance has allowed Taiwan to survive.
02. Southeast Asian Students Made to Work Illegally in Factories in Six Taiwanese Universities | Brian Hioe for New Bloom Magazine
 In some cases, students were reportedly made to work ten-hour factory shifts four days a week, while only attending classes for two days a week, and sent to work in locations such as a packaging factory for contact lenses. Campus buses were used to bring students between dormitories and factories.
Students were, in many cases, under 20 years old, and they were told by factory overseers that they were no different than regular migrant workers from southeast Asia. By the time news of this broke last week, these students had been made to work illegally for over one year. The names of the school have not yet been made public, but this includes Hsing Wu University in Linkou, which used at least 30 Indonesian students as workers, and at least one national university of science.
03. Thousands Join Tax Protest in Taiwan, With a Nod to French 'Yellow Vests | Ralph Jennings for TIME Magazine
The Tax & Legal Reform League, an activist group, called the protest after marshaling about 20,000 people outside the presidential office in an initial demonstration a week ago, and another 10,000 on Saturday, according to organizers and Taiwanese media.
The organizers said they were inspired by the success of the recent French protests, which turned violent and were blamed for 10 deaths. The Taiwanese protests have been peaceful.
04. 'It is Very Frustrating That They Keep Misrepresenting Taiwan's Status': Interview | Radio Free Asia 
The most important thing is to ensure that any participation by Taiwan is on an independent basis, and that Taiwan's rights and responsibilities are exactly the same as any of the other countries. If that is a possibility, then Taiwan will be willing to show a bit more flexibility.
As for Rep. Yoho's show of support for Taiwan, of course we are very grateful for that. Under the current situation, Taiwan is Taiwan, but the name of our country is the Republic of China, which currently controls the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, with a population of 23 million people. We have a democratically elected president and legislature. Those are realities that cannot be erased.
So it doesn't really matter if we call ourselves Taiwan or the Republic of China, or some other creative solution; there is still no way to change the reality of our independent existence.
05. China’s Hybrid Warfare against Taiwan | David Ignatius for The Washington Post
“We want a healthy relationship with China, but we don’t want to be ruled by China,” argues Raymond Sung, director of Taiwan Democracy Watch, at a roundtable organized by the Prospect Foundation, a government-backed think tank. A similar desire for self-determination was expressed by a half-dozen students at National Chengchi University. “We’re trying to make a new identity for ourselves on this island,” explained one student. “We’re going through a nation-building process.”
How can the United States help militarily? It’s tricky.
Taiwan wants American weapons and tactical support, but not so directly or visibly that it triggers a Chinese escalation. If the the United States considers a show of force to deter Chinese military action, for example, the Taiwanese believe that a joint effort, conducted with other nations, would be safer than unilateral U.S. action. 
06. Taiwan Rejects China's 'Reunification' Proposal
“I must emphasize, the results of the past election absolutely do not represent that the will of the people at the grass-roots level seeks to give up our sovereignty,” [President Tsai] said in a New Year’s Day address. Beijing considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory that must be united with the mainland, by force if necessary.
The Chinese government, Ms. Tsai said, “must handle our differences peacefully and as equals.” 

Balancing Filial Expectations and Personal Passions

Monday, January 7, 2019

Tl; dr - stop being a f*cking subtle asian traits cliche and have a real conversation with your parents.

My parents and I don't see eye-to-eye on my intended major in college. Now what? 

I am of the *personal* opinion that if your parents are paying for your college tuition (no small sum, as you know), it's deeply unfair to restrict them from any sort of decision-making. That being said, I realize there are some parents who have no boundaries, whose chief desire is to manufacture offspring from some blueprint of success (career prestige, stability, etc. I'm not saying that these are invalid or unimportant metrics of success, but they're not the only ones). I'm just so over this whole narrative -- both the parents' neuroses and that of their distressed kids. As a side note, I'm also *so over* having to repair traumatized sons of parents who didn't love their children in the ways they needed. Our entire culture reads like a bad love story. Just f*cking communicate better. (I know it's not that simple, but it also sort of is, and I don't believe the onus is entirely on our generation.)

Anyways, I wish our families were more mindful and open about the college process. I wish we actually talked about why we were making this investment because (1) You'll write more meaningful application essays. If y'all could see my/my peers' UPenn essays... what a shit show. You cannot mask wanting something for the prestige alone. You cannot write away the simple fact of your own disinterest. There is a lot at stake. Go in with a clear vision. (2) If you expect your parents to write the check or take out a loan, then I hope all parties involved want to be on the same page. I've heard a lot of people say that they let their parents fork over tens of thousands of dollars a year, thinking their kid's going to bring home a bachelor's in Biology, and they spend the entire semester stressing about hiding their actual work in Fashion/Literature/Philosophy/etc. Yeah, let's not do that. Defying your parents will not hurt them nearly as much as deceiving them will.

For me, it was always clear that there were four primary reasons to attend college, in this order of importance:
(1) Upwards socioeconomic mobility
My parents are working class, and I'm of the strange "child-of-immigrants" camp who will find themselves out-earning their parents within months/a few years of graduating. It's a surreal and troubling experience -- might write more on this later. But above everything else, I needed college to set me on a career path that would not only ensure personal economic stability, but safely provide for my parents as well -- both immediately and in retirement. Not every young person feels this way or has these responsibilities. Talk to your family about what they'll expect from you after graduation. If you have a real financial obligation to your family that you intend to honor, I'm sorry, but there are a lot of amazing careers that just aren't going to safely cut it. Think about the industries that, with few exceptions, require you to "pay your dues" via low-paying internships and entry-level jobs: politics, public relations, fashion, philanthropy, publishing. Can you afford those sacrifices? Your roommate with the trust fund can probably swing the first few postgraduate years in an amazing role on Capitol Hill for a next-to-nothing salary, but you might not. Is it fair? Absolutely not. Is it still your reality? Lol yeah.

On that note, stop shaming people for pursuing careers they aren't passionate about! Stop shaming people for doing what they love! We are all just trying to protect ourselves and our people! Some of us have choices! Some of us don't! We're all doing great!

(2) Social awareness & bias towards action
Going to copy below an excerpt of a speech I've given a few times on behalf of my university's fundraising efforts. I know it's a bit cheesy, but keep in mind its purpose. I've since renounced a few things I've said and done on behalf of scholarships (namely, throwing my parents under the bus to play the poor immigrant card), but this, I still stand by.
What if our time at WashU isn't just to bring out the good in us, but to enable us to act upon our goodness?
Take, for example, our university motto: strength through truth. What if it's not just about the linear pursuit of truth? What if it's also about the imbued imperative that we then defend each other's truths? Because what is the purpose of learning so much about this world's histories and legacies if we do not also develop the compassion and wisdom to be there for the people who suffer because of them?

Because of our education, my classmates and I have been able to channel visceral frustrations into genuine resolve. We take the anger and suffering of systemic injustices, and become lawyers. We see how poverty disproportionately affects healthcare, and become doctors where we are needed most. We watch the news, and we let our hearts break for a divided nation in pain, and then we walk into our classrooms asking, what can we learn today to reform a better state tomorrow? We see what matters, and then we do what makes a difference.  Because of our education, we no longer feel so helpless. Because of our education, we give each other hope.
As an aside, my first year of college was the year Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, just a few miles away from my fancy private school campus. I'm sorry to minimize or appropriate his death as a "teachable moment" and don't mean to do so, but to experience the community outrage and heightened discourse on race relations with that urgency and momentum-- it changed my life.

(3) Personal growth
People who aren't interested in becoming well-rounded, well-read, compassionate, thoughtful people need to make room for the ones who are. thank u, next. 

(4) Meaningful social networks and experiences
Obligatory because this is probably the biggest differentiator between a prestigious, well-regarded university and a lesser-known one. Alumni networks are helpful in a world that is not particularly meritocratic. That is all.

So here's a fun Jimmy Kimmel-type experiment: ask your parents, why do you want me to go to college? What do you want me to get out of it? And then answer these questions for yourself. If you seem to disagree fundamentally, have a reasonable conversation about it. (Short piece on navigating cultural/generational differences within Asian American families forthcoming, hopefully. Here's a related one.)

For now, assume that everything -- no matter how badly phrased, no matter how accidentally cruel - must come from a place of fierce love and concern. What are their fears? How do these affect their hopes and limitations for you? What are your dreams? What do you believe will help you achieve them? Is there a compromise? Are there any north stars you can agree on?

Some cute little phrases to try that sound extremely tacky, but only because we're so used to suffering in silence:
  • "I want you to understand why I am passionate about..." 
  • "I understand that you are concerned about x. Here's my proposed solution..." 
  • "I researched this program, and though I know our aunties in Taiwan will not have heard of it, here's why I think it's a good fit for me..."
  • "Thank you for wanting the best for me. Would you consider..." 
Remember that the goal is not a perfect understanding of each other's viewpoints, because you have opportunities they don't, and they have traumas you were spared. For many of us, our parents were ruled by the laws of sacrifice and survival; that we may pursue self-actualization is uncharted territory. Make the decision: if they will not meet you there, are you willing to go alone?

Take care of yourself.

With love,

CL's New Year's Resolutions

Saturday, January 5, 2019

I've been generally making the same New Year's resolutions for the past 4 years and only ever so slightly trying to actually meet them, but I still think setting goals for myself is important. I want to do better this year, so I'm publishing my goals on the blog for the world (or just whoever reads this aka my mom? my friends?) In addition, in the past couple months I've been trying harder to set up more routine in my life so I can be a ~proper adult~ (e.g., buying groceries weekly/bi-weekly, cooking for myself, laundry days, going to the gym at least 3 times a week, etc.),

Anyways, here are my New Year's resolutions:

1. Write and read more frequently
If you read our blog religiously, you'll notice that for every 1 post I write, LC writes like 5+ posts. I'm not great at writing, but this year I'd like to be better. I want to write at least 1 post a week and read at least 1 book every 3 weeks (or 20 books in the year). Hopefully I can do more, but I don't want to be overly ambitious for I always sabotage myself whenever I miss a goal by giving up afterwards.

2. Be healthier (mainly eating healthier and exercising more)
I'm currently pretty much addicted to sugar. I need to have dessert every day especially after dinner and it's getting to a point where I actually feel intense cravings if I don't have sugar/dessert after meals. This year, I'm going to try and eat more "real" foods and just generally be healthier. I have low self control, but am going to try to snack less and not eat all the free food in my sight. Hopefully my new Instant Pot will help me make healthier recipes and help me cook more. I've also gotten back into fitness and want to be able to maintain going to the gym at least 3-4x a week preferably 5x though. I'm going to try and start a "Fitness Friday" and write about my fitness journey, so expect those posts soon.

3. Be a better responder!
I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at responding to people. Unless we're seeing each other soon, you're telling me something juicy, or I love you a ton, you probably will frequently get left on "unread" by me. I am only good at replying to people on Snapchat and I know it's a fault of mine that I've harbored for years now. This year, please hold me accountable for responding. A recent friend I made told me he'd "remind" me to reply every time I don't by copying & pasting the exact same message if I haven't replied within 24 hours and that's honestly not a bad idea... Call me out if I don't reply. Double message me. Make me feel bad about this so I can improve!!

4. Learn one new 'substantial' thing this year
By 'substantial' I basically mean reading one fact about jellyfish is not considered learning. I'm hoping to learn something that will help me professionally/in my career, but I'd also love to learn something 'substantial' that is non-career related like embroidery or sewing or photography (again). 

5. Learn to do my makeup
HAHA, this one is super personal but I truly don't know how to do anything other than fill in my eyebrows and even then it's nowhere near perfect. I've wanted to get better at makeup for as long as I can remember, and this will be my year to do so. I'm going to try and wear makeup at least once or twice a week (aka more than just doing eyebrows and eyeliner) and go all out of my face at least once a month.

6. Be a more sustainable person
I love sales and deals, so I frequently find myself falling into the trap of fast fashion. As any of my roommates or anyone who has ever seen my room knows, I am an A+ hoarder. I'd prefer to be a C- hoarder so that I can be a more sustainable person. There are some things I can't give up yet (e.g. I really like drinking bottled water...) but I have started switching over to re-usable tupperware! I also bought re-usable sandwich baggies from a brand called Stasher, but I have yet to stop using Ziploc bags. Just trying to implement small changes into my life so I can be a more sustainable person for our world!

7. Sleep early on workdays
I don't really need to explain this resolution, but I will. I basically would like to sleep at least 7 hours on days I have work. It'll help me be a better worker bee and help me stop spending so much money at Starbucks.

Hope you all enjoyed reading about my goals/resolutions for this year. I'll try and do a bi-monthly or quarterly check-in on these. Hold me accountable to my goals if you notice me slacking!


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