Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Taiwan's society is another story. Taiwan has been called an island of
corruption and covetousness, but in terms of public and personal safety
and violent crime rates it is superior to almost any Western country.
Random mass murders, shootings in post offices or schools, and poison
gas attacks in subways are unknown. It is quite safe to walk in Taipei after
dark, and unless one gets involved in drugs, commercial sex, or gambling
there is very little reason to fear the organized criminal gangs on the
island. Health care delivery is efficient, inexpensive, and socially just.
For all of its problems and setbacks and its current economic slump,
Taiwan is a more livable and loveable society thanmainland China is to-
day or the island itself once was before its democratization. Taiwan has
a much more modern feel to it, and this is not limited to its material
prosperity. Now that the bad old days of the White Terror and one-
party Kuomintang rule are gone, the tiresome and ubiquitous political
slogans against communism on the mainland have disappeared, and
so have most statues of dictator Chiang Kai-shek. There is no more cen-
sorship of domestic or foreign news media, and there are dozens of tele-
vision channels from which to choose. (There were only three until the
late 1980s.) The people of Taiwan are, by and large, well-mannered
and speak quietly in public. Public restrooms in Taiwan are much
cleaner than they once were, and vehicular traffic is relatively orderly.
(Sometime between 1985 and 2005 drivers in Taiwan learned not to
honk their horns indiscriminately.) Users of Taipei's ultramodern rapid
transit subway system actually line up for subway cars and escalators,
and smoking is now strictly prohibited in public places in Taipei. The
written language in Taiwan is beautiful and aesthetically coherent
because it retains the traditional, complex characters. Dogs are liked in
large Taiwan cities and are treated relatively well. The Taiwanese topo-
lect is openly and freely spoken in public now, and gone forever are
the signs that used to exhort the Taiwanese, “Be proper and upstanding
Chinese people—speakMandarin!” Forming a political party in Taiwan
is not an illegal or seditious act, and Internet users in Taiwan can write
virtually anything they want about their government and fear neither
censure nor censorship nor recrimination. The island feels modern,
open, free, and relaxed, quite possibly because it is democratic.
In Taiwan today, Taiwan history is a polarized field, withGreen voices
predominating, at least in the more popular histories of Taiwan
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