This Sunday morning has started off with reading a good editorial in the Japan Times http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20070930a1.html while eating breakfast. Entitled "The real stakes in Taiwan", it shows once again that the editorial staff on the Times understands, and is sympathetic towards, Taiwan's situation:
"Beijing insists that the island is a part of the "one China" and Taipei's efforts to claim a seat at the U.N. are part of a campaign to promote independence. That may be true, at least as far as Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian 陳水扁 and his backers are concerned, but the sentiments behind the U.N. bid do reflect the Taiwan people's deep-seated yearning for respect and the assertion of their identity as Taiwanese. To confuse those aspirations with partisan politics will compound tensions."
No one ever seems to point out that "One China" is a euphemism for "old Manchu 満州民族 empire", as the areas that Beijing insists belong to it include lands like Tibet and Taiwan that were incorporated into China during the Ch'ing (Cing) 清朝 Dynasty. The writers do chide Chen for ratcheting up tensions, but one has to be pleased with the editorial's conclusion:
"Mr. Chen certainly has political calculations in mind as he presses the U.N. campaign and proceeds with a referendum on U.N. membership that will be held at the same time as the presidential election in March. But to dismiss this entire phenomenon as a political scheme is wrong, too. Increasing numbers of people in Taiwan do not think of themselves as Chinese. They have made extraordinary progress in building a vibrant democracy and creating one of the world's economic powerhouses. They want credit for those accomplishments.
Ignoring this yearning will not make it go away. Beijing's merciless campaign to deny Taiwan international space is strengthening a collective sense of grievance and — yes — a separate identity. All nations must help find a middle ground that acknowledges the remarkable gains made by Taiwan without crossing the red lines that would provoke a crisis.
Respect for Taiwan, rather than fear of China, should be the guiding principles of cross-strait relations. It would pay dividends on both sides of the strait and for all nations of the region."
It's nice to see someone pointing out that China's constant attempts to browbeat Taiwan over fears it is seeking independence just may turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Thus reassured that all was well in the field of mutual understanding between Japan and Taiwan, the family and I took advantage of the hot, sunny weather to go for another swim in the ocean. This time we drove north to Chiting, a beach "resort" in Hsinchu (Sinjhu) County 新竹県 that has seen better days.
Before setting out, I added another amulet to the collection hanging from the rear view mirror, an お守り on traffic safety I picked up in Japan a couple of months ago. The familiar temple-like gate was still at the entrance to the parking lot for the beach (this was my third visit), but the wind-powered turbines were a new addition to the scenery.
There were a number of groups of what appeared to be college students at the beach, but in general things were not too crowded. The windy conditions meant the water was a little rough, which probably explained why Amber wasn't very pleased when I took her out into the sea. She was much happier sitting in the surf and splashing in the water as the waves lapped up onshore.
Bad points about Chiting: The water wasn't very clean. While sitting with Amber in the waterline, I had to keep picking pieces of plastic and Styrofoam that were washing up against us, and throwing them onto the sand behind us. Also, the roped-off area designated for swimming was ridiculously small, and anyone who strayed off of it received a toot on the whistle from the lifeguard. And even though free admission was offered to anyone wearing a bikini (the usual fee is NT120, about ￥420 or $3.70), there were no takers, unfortunately (damned Confucian ethics!).
Good points about Chiting: The choppy water resulted in a lot of wave action. And while none of them ever got higher than my shoulders, it was fun going out past the shore-hugging college students, and diving into and over the waves as they broke.
Final verdict re Chiting: Amber had fun and got a little color, so the day was a success.