How do most Taiwanese perceive BIN LADEN as a joke?

A rather strange trend has surfaced on this fair island, and I think some posters might know what I mean. It seems that many Taiwanese people, especially among the lower classes or uneducated classes, think that saying the words BIN LADEN out loud to a foreigner they see on the street, especially if the foreigner seems to be, or is known to be an American, is FUNNY. Huh?

We all know about the baseball “fan” in Kaohsiung during the recent world cup tournament who held up a picture of BIN LADEN during a game there last week with the words “America you will lose” on the bottom of the poster in English. Not only that, but the TV screen in the stadium continually played the scene over and over again, panning to the guy in the bleachers with the offensive sign. This made the news bigtime. Ugh.

During the baseball finals, another fan, maybe the same one, tried to sneak in another BIN LADEN poster but it was confiscated by the police as being in poor taste for Taipei stadium fans. In addition, in announcement was made on the PA system during the team USA game not to hold up any BIN LADEN pictures out of respect for the players from the USA.

Yesterday I attended a family affair in Taipei and one of the uncles began laughing at me and saying BIN LADEN out loud several times when he learned I was American. I just didn’t get the joke. Why do Taiwanese, some Taiwanese, think this is FUNNY? And why, instead of showing empathy with the 911 tragedy, do they laugh in our faces, as if saying the two words BIN LADEN is some kind of very funny joke. The uncle I mentioned above, kept laughing and laughing, thinking this was so funny, to say these words to me.

I bought some takoyaki at a night market stall the other day and the bossman kept saying BIN LADEN Bin Laden to me over and over again, and laughing.

So my question to the Forum here is, are some Taiwanese lacking in a gene for empathy ? Or are some Taiwanese so stupid that they think it is funny to mentioon BIN LADEN name to every foreigner they see? And why is this funny?

I cannot imagine this happening in Japan, where I am sure Japanese people who show empathy to what the 911 attack was all about. But here in Taiwan, a very perverse kind of humor has surfaced that I fear reveals a very sick, immature state of mind in some Taiwnese of the lower, uneducated classes.

Can anyone EXPLAIN what this is funny – mentioning the words BIN LADEN out loud and laughing??? I fear for Taiwan if this is a national sense of humor…

I await serious explanations…

I think that this is because everything outside Taiwan and China doesn’t really matter to them… it’s a totally different world… the West… All western countries felt the shock of 911… whether in Austrailia, South America, or Europe… we are all more integrated…

People often laugh at something they do not understand or don’t really care about… it just shows their ignorance of the situation…

Anyway… do you think these guys really understand the suffering when they are living down some back street or alleyway in Taipei County, Chiayi, or Pingdung?

Do they really have any idea where NY is or how 911 affected people? No, they don’t.

All they think is “I am funny… my new English word… one more box of bin-lang please, and a plate of stinky beancurd…”

On the flip side… did you see the way these Taiwanese reacted to the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yuoslavia?

Although it was a PRC embassy… they felt like it was an attack on them (Chinese people)… My friend heard a couple of English words from these very same people… except that time it was “F*ck you Americans!!!”

Not to say that ethnocentricity is a trait of Chinese people… but sometimes I feel while we choose to try and understand them and their culture, they choose not to understand us while still embracing McDonalds, Nike, and romanized roadsigns…

Maybe it is easier for us to understand empathy as we have a wider view and are more exposed to the world and all its people.

Actually, I’ve had the exact opposite experience. I had lots of Taiwanese express their condolences to me after the 911 attacks … just because I’m an American, not because I had any family or friends die during the attacks. I haven’t heard any of these “jokes” personally, but the fact that it’s happening doesn’t surprise me … however, ignorance exists in many countries. There are plenty of ignorant rednecks in America and other countries as well. Lack of education and what we might call “civility” among the “common people” isn’t just a trait of Taiwan.

How about this? There once was a guy called Nixon, who had a sidekick called Kissinger (actually, the one who had the smarts).

Nixon & Kissinger decided it would be really cool, as they played a long diplomatic game with Russia, to “play the China card” and switch the US recognition of “one China” (a principle the US officially acknowledges, and Dubya has done nothing, so far, to reverse this position) to Beijing.

Ever since, the official American attitude to Taiwan has been ambiguous at best. In fact, the policy is often called a “strategic ambiguity.”

The AIT, have you noticed, is just a “de facto” US diplomatic presence on Taiwan. In deference to Beijing, to keep Beijing happy, the US does not dare to have an official diplomatic presence on Taiwan. Courageous stuff, by the world’s most overwhelmingly powerful country.

The one country Taiwan thought it could depend on, in the cold war era, simply turned around and gave the island the finger.

And so US policy remains a pathetic anachronism from the Nixon era, while Taiwan turns itself into the world’s third-leading manufacturer of electronics and information technology.

Memories can be long. When Taiwan’s leaders say things to the effect that, “We have come through the Taiwan experience,” what they mean is, they have survived not just intimidation by China, but a fundamental political betrayal by the US.

So the Taiwanese are not exactly shedding tears when some guy living in a cave manages to inflict considerable damage and loss of life on the US. Hmmmm, isn’t that strange…

You have a point, Sir, yes indeed!

Yes, it may seem like a good point but, you see, it’s not a very reasonable attitude.

First of all, there would be no ROC on Taiwan if not for some serious US intervention before, during, and after the retreat by the KMT. If it weren’t for continued US support in the form of arms sales, the PRC would be in a much better position to take Taiwan by force. True, Carter switched recognition in 1979, but US support for Taiwan did not evaporate. Look at what happened during the PRC missile tests in 1996. That aircraft carrier group sent a fairly clear message of the US attitude toward hostile acts or hostile provocation by the PRC.

And for the most part I don’t think Taiwanese people harbor a lot of ill will toward the US. I certainly hope not.

I think it is unfair to categorize a whole culture as being non-empathetic on the basis of the reactions of a few ignorant (Taiwanese) people. You have ignorance everywhere, even in the USA. The first time I took my (Chinese) wife to a restaurant in the States, I overheard a girl at the next booth scold her father in response to some grumblings: “Daddy… you wouldn’t be happy unless everyone on the planet was white.” Well, I guess SHE was empathetic.

does anybody else think america is diverting attention from economic worries by fighting in afgha, obviously it can be said what about the plane crashes, …well perhaps they knew and let them happen, maybe they too were surprised by how many there were. too much? america let pearl harbour happen so they could enter wwII, (no carriers in harbour at the time, all at sea, only relatively minor ships sunk. (i know this is only a theory)
also america has a tendency to attack small nations and divert attention,grenada, panama… ARGENTINA DID it IN 1982 WITH AN ATTACK ON THE FALKLANDS. oops sorry about the caps. also the bush family has a backround of dirty tactics, cia, iran contra…
afghan, is small, poor politically isolated and a pretty safe place to attack. also all this year there has been a build up in the newspaper about the taliban. at the time i was wondering why they were getting so much press then this all went into action.
anyways anyone whose interested in talking about this write away. if you want to be abusive go ahead but i’m really just interseted in what others have got to say , add.

Since when, the stupidity and ignorance of some people started to affect some “intelligent and educated ones” as they think they are ??? or maybe they are not !!!


I don’t want to get abusive. I think, though, that it’s strange that when things like the 911 attack happen some people want so badly to believe in certain things that they’ll make them up. The people of the US have enough problems keeping their government in check and fighting against real enemies within the US and from foreign lands – and yes, sometimes with the government itself-- without somebody making one up.

I think some facts would benefit this discussion, instead of a lot of poorly thought out conjecture.

Could we discuss this?


At the time you refer to, the Taiwan government (a.k.a. the delusionaries at the KMT) was claiming that it was in fact the official government of the whole of China.

Chiang Kai Shek and his cronies mis-managed, looted and bungled their way to this island where they continued decades of the same kind of suppression that lost them the whole of the Mainland. The US recognizing the government of Mainland China at the time was simply acknowledging a fact. Realpolitick. It’s also widely believed that the KMT government could have held their seat in the UN if they’d had that same grasp of reality in the 70’s.

As for the situation today, I’m guessing that we might be of a same opinion. I believe that Taiwan should not only be recognized as a legitimate country, but that it should be recognized as the nation that should be leading China (rather than the Western media’s fixation that China is heading into a Golden Sunset). I believe that the US should be leading the West in recognizing Taiwan. I believe that the people of Taiwan have to be able to make their own decisions, and decide their own fate. I believe that the US should fight any country that would attack Taiwan for doing that. And I believe that the only people who are looking good after all of these decades are the people of Taiwan, who are continuing to grow into the kind of democratic society that the US has always claimed it believes in.

P.S.-- Nixon may have had some character deficiencies, but he definitely had the smarts. He didn’t, however, have the ability to be “good on TV” like, for instance, Reagan and Clinton.

Not long ago I believe the World Journal did a survey in the US in which it found that the majority of Americans would not support an all out war with China to support Taiwan independence. As to the original question about the seeming lack of empathy in the face of 911- I believe Western culture emphasizes compassion for strangers to a greater degree than traditional Chinese culture. I was once told that the word “compassion” does not have a strong equivalent in Chinese. I don’t believe that the Chinese I have come in contact with put themselves into other people’s shoes to the degree that the average American does. Chinese are busy trying to take care of their own. That being said, I think identifying with someone’s pain based on how similar they look to you is a factor.

america setting up afghanastan,
late reply,
it’s not “poorly thought out conjecture”, if you don’t sgree fine but it’s up here because i know it’s not the whole picture and could easily be wrong, but definitly a lot of non americans are
finding this whole thing doesn’t ring true.
it’s actually not just me who is suspecting all this. it seems most non americans are suspisious of this and are wondering what’s really going on. obviousl ther’s not going to be too many facts to support this arguement but then i just want to find out what others know and get a better picture and so form a clearer picture.
i don’t think anyone really trusts the us government (or any for that matter) and their main job is to look after their interests and other countries rights are not important . this is not an american way of doing politics but everyone. france bombed the rainbow warrior, elections are tampered with and in africa or sth america the us backed a communist force who overthrew trhe democratically elected govt because thhey were anti us. it’s the way of the world.
did the us allow the plane bombings to occur, maybe but this a pretty big maybe.but it’s not unreal. pearl harbor has been blown up but in reality it had no military impact. all the us carriers which were the most vital were at sea at the time and the us was able to enter the war as a result. before congress was not sold on the idea but after that they had no choice. so those troops were sacrificed (maybe) to get the us in the war. there are books on this subject who argue this case.( alittle known fact the japanese commander of the attack killed himself because he was humiliated because the us didn’trecieve the declaration of war sent before the attack) so if you believe this it’s not inconcievable to believe that they would do it again. after a narrow election win and a economic recession on the way this war has certainly boosted w’s popularity and national attention is not on his performance in relation to the economy.
argentina in 1982 invaded the falkland islands for pretty much the same reasons. governments do this sort of thing. afghan is polically isolated, pathetically poor and the northern alliance were more than happy to do most of the hard fighting so casulaties could be kept to a minimun.
another thing all this year the taliban have been in the newspapers and it’s been on my mind why? they are just another small country and they haven’t done anything to stand out too much from all the atrocities e.t.c happening around the world. governments have enough control of the media, cnn is us propaganda. it just felt like they were being set up and then all this happened. wag the dog is only a movie but it talked about all this. anyways thats all for now. againif you waNT TO BE ABUSIVE GO AHEAD BUT I’D REALLY JUST LIKE TO HEAR WHAT OTHERS HAVE GOT TO SAY OR ADD.

Taiwan Betrayed Again?

Yes, there is some re-emerging historical evidence suggesting that Kissenger’s Shanghai Communique did do exactly just this as it is an executive agreement (mini-treaty) with Beijing.

Carter and his security advisors certainly aided this trend of Taiwan betrayal with their second communique, and the Carter derecognition of the ROC under Article 4 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, too.

Reagan’s “third communique” has been much less effective due to TRA “implementation clauses”, and Reagan’s policy offset of the Six Assurances to Taiwan.

However, let’s not forget that Taiwan is a small country with a sad history of oppression by the Chinese chauvanists orginally from the mainland. Beijing needs their exports markets far more than the USA needs cheap Chinese labor. Indian software programmers and plentifully cheap Indian labor is becoming far more alluring as regional conflicts with China broaden. The Falkland type invasions are more in vogue with Beijing than in Washington, due to the global economic slump.

It takes a really strong dose of Anti-American sentiments to stretch their imagination and suggest the American economic recession was politically engineered to coincide with the 9/11 attacks. Then maybe it was just secretly designed by Beijing central planners to economically drain Taiwan as a prelude to their now looming Falkland Island invasion plans!

The Argentina economic solution to your island maladies is “dollarization” of the Taiwan economy before Beijing attacks!!
Read the US Historical Evidence for Debunking “Retrocession Day”

actually, atb is probably a mossad agent working in conjunction with the cia to spread misinformation. the people who run the new world order(of which bush is their puppet) are trying to divert your attention from the real fact…that this war is being carried out in order to obtain a crashed alien spaceship under afghanistan.

the sad thing is, my theory has as much credibility and basis in facts as yours. which is to say, neither of them are anything but conjecture.

as for the thread in general, there are some taiwanese who hate america just like there are europeans and mexicans and canadians who hate america. the taiwanese are just less tactful about it. do i need to rehash the story of the college professor who spoke at a feminist conference in canada and stated that 9-11 was america getting what it deserved because of their evil policies in the mideast? she got a huge standing ovation from the attendees at the conference. i believe the highest ranking catholic official(a cardinal or something) in mexico said the same thing to his congregation. imagine…a priest saying 3000 americans dead was what we deserved. somehow an idiot baseball fan seems silly by comparison.

One more question. If the us government is so powerful that it can engineer complex wars for its own purposes, why can’t it engineer something as simple as economic growth? or was the recession created by the government to take attention away from something even more dastardly?

Cheers Flipper,
I don’t necessary feel this is the truth but I don’t really feel that it isn’t. I know it may sound far fetched so I put in a couple examples of what other countries have done to show that this happens all the time. America is the main offender as it is the main superpower around. Nobody wants to believe their country would really do this but it’s not really that inconceivable either. It’s easy to discuss this but if anyone can give good reasons why this is a load of rubbish please give us a yell. I’m not the only one thinking this and I know a few Americans who are fully suspicious of this all.
The CIA has billions of dollars a year to spend and they’ve been doing dick distardly stuff for a long time now so all this doesn’t seem to far out of their league. The economy, well the variables there are huge and this little war is pushing a whole lot of cash around that wasn’t availbe before.

Apart from being able to blame everything on Osama Bin Laden and his organisation, I think this war clearly provides some other “future” benefits which would not have arisen had the US chosen not to conduct this war themselves:

i) Divert attention away from the recession;
already mentioned but not as important as

ii) Create a more direct and lasting geopolitical presence in the middle east, at least closer than they have ever been before.

The middleeast is important because most of the world remaining oil reserves are there. Also Russia and the “_stans” have more confirmed reserves and natural gas than the arabs. Control of their distribution is important.Without this war America would feel a bit left out from the region. Some analysts are predicting that oil prices will be seriously affected if Russia finds an economical way of distributing their reserves. Parties that would benefit most are all those living along the proposed pipelines ie Afghanistan, and eastward to China.

But what I don’t understand is what has this thread got to do with Taiwan being betrayed? ??
And how many Taiwanese actually still think about being betrayed by America? I would have thought the most important thing in Taiwanese minds is the economy.

Hey, there are some rather intelligent people on this message board who grasp global geopolitics and “hidden” objectives. And it is mature wisdom to examine the intentions of the “unilateralist” methods of the Middle East conflict. Afterall, William Casey of the CIA did utilize the Iranian hostage crisis to deal a landslide election defeat to Carter in 1980. Victory in Florida was by the skin of their teeth. The movie Spy Game humorously hit on the Middle East/China problem and the true propensity for CIA/MI machpolitik in Washington.

Is Taiwan being betrayed by the USA again and again?

A good question to question.

Some Taiwan supporters in the USA do feel this way. For example, I can clearly cite those “followers” of Bill Gertz in the Washington Times. (Actually, he closely follows them in his reporting.) They seem to rally around the TRA, a domestic law.

Others like Michael Swaine of Rand Corporation feel differently and is most likely to rally his supporters around the One China policy. This policy originates from the Shanghai Communiques which are executive agreements with Beijing. Executive agreements are legally considered as “mini-treaties” under the US Constitution which come within the foreign affairs powers monopolized by the executive branch, or really the State Dept.

Mr. Swaine wrote a recent RAND report on the looming “missile crisis” of Taiwan R&D. However, the South Koreans have been doing the same but neither seems to be in the “export” business of missile technology like the PRC. This violates the missile proliferation treaty, and in the descretionary latitude of the State Dept, it has beem most reluctant to most particularly offend Beijing with the proliferation sanctions required by law. Correctly, he believes that Taiwan would probably abandoned their minor missile research program, if the USA would ever fully live up to their defense requirements of Taiwan under the domestic law of TRA. Including Taiwan under NMD is such an example.

Is this political struggle anything new?

No, those Kissenger forces of modern history have been politically passing Chinese hot potatoes for about the last 140 years.

In 1870-80’s, it was the Chinese Exclusion Acts and “Chinese Exclusion Cases”; or civil rights of aliens.

In 1898, it was the US citizenship by birthplace under 14th Amendment in USA v. Wong Ma Ark.

In 1906, it was the Chinese Exclusion Extension Act and the jurisdictional exclusion of Ellis Island from full constitutional protections.

In 1920, it was the Red Scares and numerous Chinese alien detentions on Ellis Island/Angel Island.

In 1945-52, it was the ‘Chinese occupation’ of Formosa and US betrayal of their treaty interest in Taiwan inhabitants.

In 1950’s, it was the Korean War and McCarthyism. Plus more Ellis Island detentions of alien communists.

In 1972, it was the Shanghai Communique and UN switch.

In 1978-80, it was the Carter derecognition of the ROC (Art. 4, SFPT), termination of MDT, and diplomatic relations with China (2nd Communique).

In 1980, there was the TRA and Congressional validation of SFPT.

In 1996-2001, there was the Taiwan missile mini- crisis, PRC missile/nuclear issues, “accidental” PRC Embassy bombing, Hainan Incident.

Meanwhile, the Middle East frictions have been increasingly fueling these Chinese hot potatoes.
(And vice versa.) But every major controversy of the day has been at the expense of a Chinese or Taiwanese being within the US sphere of political influence which is of a most legal significance. Simultaneously, some of the greatest landmarks on civil rights evolution have occurred under the US Constitution because of a Chinese political hot potatoe.

I’d like to go back to the original question… a number of Taiwanese do snicker when they say words Bin Laden. Certainly not always, and but more than just one, at least among my students and Chinese acquaintances. It doesn’t seem malicious, just inappropriate. So the question was, does the name sound funny in Chinese or Taiwanese (kinda like “Tora Bora” sounds kinda funny in English)?

I talked to one Chinese friend of mine about it and he said hadn’t noticed anything, so perhaps it’s just when saying it to an American - sort of an embarrassed laugh - covering an awkward moment of bringing up what might be a sensitive topic.

I might be right off the mark here, but I thought it was because it sounds like Bin Leng (not sure if my pinyin’s right here, but I mean Betel Nut).