The 2020 presidential election is not just about the preference/prejudice of a candidate or the zero-sum game of the blue and green parties. All Taiwanese people, please see this from a higher perspective. This is the most critical moment in Taiwan ’s future. This is the key battle about who you will be competing with for the resources with in the future, and your freedom in the future. It’s also about how long the beauty of all this island can last.
Had been abroad for 4 years, I used to think that “going back to Taiwan? Not gonna happen.” The salary is too bad, and Taiwan is kinda isolated in the greater China circle because most brands would definitely take Taiwan into the last consideration because it’s so small, when it comes to resource allocation. Going back to Taiwan was never an option for me for practical reasons. Even in early 2019 I still only considered job opportunities in China, Singapore and in Hong Kong.
I also used to think that many Taiwanese are too emotional-driven, sometimes even too irrational. For some Taiwanese who never visit China, they think China is uncivilized, with poor infrastructures and limits of freedom. But they don’t know how advanced their digital economy is and also they don’t really understand what they are thinking because there was little conversation.
Yes, spending three years in China worths it. I have indeed witnessed the rapid development of the Chinese economy, the dynamic market, and the continuous introduction of various new technologies. Especially in the field of fast-moving consumer goods/e-commerce in my field, merely a shopping experience on Taobao/Tmall can totally astonish you that how big the potential of the digital economy is. From the display of e-commerce pages, algorithms, logistics speed/tracking, payment methods, and the convenience of customer service Chat-box, I felt that my eyes widened and dazzled. Life in Shanghai was also very fun and exciting. With endless world-class exhibitions, restaurants and bars, I could meet all kinds of people from China and all over the world. It is indeed an international metropolitan which is hard to see in Taiwan.
But there is another side of this life.
When I was in college, I studied a course about contemporary Chinese history, economics, and also read many books about the Communist Party of China. I heard that China has the “Central Propaganda Department” which controls and censors all news and media. At that time, i just felt that this country is so mysterious. While in Shanghai, I heard many foreigners mention the CCP ’s “social credit system” – meaning that every move you take is monitored by the government, and then your actions will add or deduct points to your points, affecting your rights, for example, to purchase of a house. Expats working in China usually do not mention politically sensitive terms on WeChat, such as Hong Kong independence, Taiwan independence, Tibetan independence. One of my good friends’ boyfriend’s bank account and WeChat account were locked within 24 hours after he posted sth sensitive on WeChat. Then, there are various events that are “harmonized”: the news you saw yesterday can be deleted completely the next day, along with various statements and explanations from Chinese official propaganda media. What was more frightening was that one of my graduate classmates disappeared for at least a week, for no reason. After he was found safe, we were asked not to discuss this on WeChat.
For people like me who are used to a free-to-talk-about-anything environment in Taiwan, and who have been living in European/American countries, they are very likely not going to get used to it. I felt more and more uncomfortable when I was in China. But these experiences still did not trigger the reasons I wanted to leave.
In early 2019, I joined one of the biggest internet conglomerates in China for its global talent program. I thought that it’s the beginning of one of my dreams to work closely with talented internationals on a global platform.
However, the reality was very different from my expectations. I was allocated to international business, but most of my colleagues are Chinese locals who grew up in China, educated in China. They grew up with the company, from hundreds of employees to 100,000 employees. This is an environment where I had a chance to understand more deeply about how the Chinese see things and what their lifestyles are.
Most of my colleagues are nice. I mean, nice human beings who are not evil and don’t wanna kill you nor frame you. I realized the reason why the Chinese economy could grow so fast, why so many Chinese people are so so hardworking (devoting themselves 100% to a job), and why crazy materialism (related to the rapid growth of e-commerce too) is so prevailing in china.
According to Wikipedia, In 30 years, The GDP per capita in China grew from only USD317 to USD 10,099, nearly 32 times higher. Many Chinese at the age of 35-40 years old didn’t have hot water to shower when they were kids. What I saw was: most of Chinese they don’t have options but choose to close their eyes in terms of freedom, as long as CCP guarantees them economic growth; 1.3 billion people were educated and believe that the coming back of Taiwan as a province of China is for sure gonna happen, by all means. It’s a matter of the honor of great China as a superpower country, related to the shame of being invaded by western countries more than one century ago.
I also witnessed the glorious and lavish lifestyle of many Chinese in first-tier cities in China. My friend’s 20-year-old ex-girlfriend was able to buy “the right to buy a star” as a birthday gift for my friend. She is a single child under the Chinese’s single-child policy.
I just wanted to list some facts that I have observed in China and help you to make a decision better. And I believe that many Taiwanese will say: “Wow, that’s very different from Taiwan.” When we are living in a place where same-sex marriage is allowed, where artists and content creators can freely create without limitations, where people are really allowed to say anything and even criticize the president of Taiwan, when we are able to enjoy the marvelous nature and aboriginal culture and continuously improve our educational policy to empower the minority and aborigines in this land, these cute little things come with a price.
So, as there is only less than 36 hours before the election, I hope that my observation can help you to make a clear decision as to what future you want for Taiwan, and more importantly for yourself.
Pray for Taiwan.
May what we have and cherish now can last in our future.
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