Re: Xenophobia in Taiwan

It has been discussed many times here before about the xenophobic tendencies of the Taiwanese authorities, and most recently, the DPP (i.e. all of the foreign bride stories in the Taipei Times, visa regulations, etc.). Since I wasn’t living here when the KMT was in power, I’d be curious to know if the situation was any different back then, or if anyone thinks the situation will either improve or worsen if there is a change in power next year.

Well, I often get the feeling that the Chinese/Taiwanese are not aware that their actions are being interpreted in this way. In other words, they more or less feel it is their RIGHT to do what they want in their own “country.” So of course that includes making all kinds of regulations which will serve to protect the interests of LOCAL PEOPLE . . . . . . but when viewed from a different angle are often just blatant ethnic discrimination.

EQUALITY is not something that just comes about because you repeat it over and over like a Buddhist mantra . . . . . you (meaning the Taiwan government officials) actually have to work hard to remove the barriers which are denying equal treatment to those with different skin color, different mother tongues, different educational backgrounds, etc.

Hence, while there is talk of EQUALITY for foreigners and locals in many government departments, nevertheless no steps are taken to cancel all those little regulations and/or traditional practices which in fact do not allow foreigners to receive equal treatment . . . . .

Drivers’ licenses are a good example. Six year validity is the norm, but foreigners get renewals only for the length of their ARC . . . . . even though there is no law which specifies this . . . . . .


The immigration situation in Taiwan was very different when the KMT was in power. When I first arrived in the late 1980s, there were so few foreigners in Taiwan that the KMT government simply ignored the fact that there were a few thousand white English teachers and office workers working illegally. During the 90s ARCs and work permits became available to English teachers.

The main issue now is the large influx of foreign brides from Souheast Asia and the increasing numbers of Chinese nationals resident in Taiwan. The heightened policing of foreigners in Taiwan in recent years is a response to this wave of hidden immigration.

The KMT will also need deal with the same immigration issues if it takes power, and I think it is unlikely that there will be any major shifts in policy.

Also, I think that many recent foreign arrivals to Taiwan are laboring under the impression that the DPP is somehow xenophobic.This is simply untrue. Where I think you see xenophobia, or at least narrow-mindedness, is in the middle and lower levels of the civil service. There is an entrenched attitude there that foreigners needed to be monitored, regulated, and managed.This attitude probably has its roots in the martial law era and in the strong influence that Japanese governmental policies have in Taiwan.