Your views on Racism in Taiwan

I’m a listener only…

How are Western whites perceived in comparison to Western “other” races?

How are half asian half caucasian children perceived in Taiwan?

My wife NEVER hangs out in the sun for long periods of time for fear of getting a tan. (Desirable where I’m from. Wish that I could tan instead of burn) She has indicated that for women lighter is better. Generally true perception?

I’ve read between the lines somewhat that if you are a Western working in Taiwan, you are expected to only speak English. True?

Nobody wants to be brown or dark cause they associate this with working out in the sun, and if you work in the sun you must be uneducated or stupid, and obviously poor. Also if you are dark, you must be the bride of the devil.
This has developed to where women intentionally make themselves whiter looking, to the point where some of them look like ghosts and sickly.

Taiwanese think that if they speak English, hence they want to practice it with you all the time, that it makes them worldly and international in business, and more sophisticated. Also years ago in Taiwan, to get a better life you would have to go to America and make it. To do this you would have to be able to speak English, I guess this is a throwback from those days.
Also I think it is hardwired into their heads that they must speak English at any opportunity

No you are not expected to speak English here, but if you want to learn Chinese, the trap you got to avoid is to stop the Taiwanese colleagues from using you as an English teacher, just keep speaking to them in Chinese, it eventually wears them out

However for the Taiwanese, if you are an ABC or CBC, it makes it impossible for you to teach English. Their understanding is that their kids can only will speak better English if a white face teaches them.
probably have a stereotype of the perfect English speaker in their head - tall, blonde, olive skin or white, with a Californinian accent

Chinese and Taiwanese “all look same” meaning that they have all black hair etc, while Caucasians come in all varieties, red hair, brown hair, blonde hair, dark, pale, blue eyes, green eyes etc.
Some Taiwanese probably see Caucasian Asian kids as different, simply cause they are neither Chinese or Caucasian. This is typical in many cultures, something different will always be by some people discriminated against.

I would say Taiwanese are racist, but you could be in a lot more racist places. Foreigners were a rare thing in Chinese culture, now they are appearing in larger numbers in Taiwan, and I guess in some respects we are met with distrust and suspicion, simply cause we are different. But the majority of the time I have found Taiwanese to be open, helpful and friendly.

I do think however that they do occasionally look down on us, but that’s cause of their own insecurity. And they certainly do look down on all other Asian racists apart from the other ethnic Chinese places like HK, Singapore.

I often wonder though do the Taiwanese aspire to be us, or are they only following the Art of War. I have forgotten the elaborate saying but isn’t it; " to defeat the enemy you first must know it"

I wonder will the Chinese people and the rest of the world ever fully integrate, I think maybe not cause they don’t want it. Maybe discrimination towards a half Chinese/half Caucasian is the Chinese saying" don’t screw up the way things are, don’t integrate"

For “Emua”:

I haven’t ever met you (as far as I know! of course with this whole on-line thing you never know…) and I haven’t talked with you to understand your English ability, but having said that…

Judging from the small post you have put up here, you probably went to the US at an early age, but were not born there. I would guess that your English is extremely good but NOT native. Errors like “can speak Mandarin” and “turned down from Hess” in the post are not typical native-type performance errors in English. If this is true, that may well be why Hess didn’t want to hire you as a “Native speaking teacher” (which is what I assume you applied for), instead of any racism.

I am aware that many schools discriminate in favor of the typical blond, blue-eyed foreigner, and I don’t work for Hess or any other school, but we do have to be realistic about qualifications. If I’m wrong about where you came from – if you were born in the US and acquired English as your first language, then I stand corrected. Otherwise – well, I am told I have excellent Mandarin, and I have experience teaching various levels of Mandarin, but I can’t get a job teaching Mandarin over here. That’s just the way it is. I don’t view it as racism; it’s a function of native language. Whether non-native-teachers can perform effectively as language teachers is not a topic for this particular forum (but feel free to throw it at Alien over in the “Teaching in Taiwan” forum). (Gee, now she’s gonna be after me!)


I have to disagree with Emua’s observation that Taiwanese are racist towards ABC/CBC’s. I had a favourable time in Taiwan teaching english in several different places. I’m a CBC myself with a major in business. I had no prior English Teaching courses.

But I was able to get several jobs at Shida University teaching night classes to adults and also as a business english tutor to several managers at a major bank in Taipei. The only difference was in pay. They paid caucasian teachers a bit higher compared to CBC/ABC’s.

Overall, I think it depends on your presentation and abilities to teach. If you have decent english skills, you can probably get a job teaching english in Taiwan. Perhaps you just ran into some strict schools.

In my experience here I have never encountered the ugly dogmatic racism that you find in some countries with large immigrant populations. On the other hand there is a lot of the naive or uneducated type of interaction with foreigners.

Most incidents are silly - people getting embarrased or kids staring at me in resturants (very common). You might include in this category the scenario where people drop everything else to help the foreigner, or the cops who don’t give us traffic tickets - which is nice, but unfair really.

The only serious problems I find are the more subtle ‘glass ceiling’ stuff, or bosses who make comments like “We can’t have foreigners managing Chinese”.

Never have I felt in any physical danger or been the subject of abusive language. This certainly happens in other Western countries I have lived.

I think if you want to say this country is racist, you need to qualify the statement somewhat.

Racism is a word that is usually charged with hatred, as opposed to discrimination. I have hardly ever encountered racism over here. Discrimination is common and even understandable, however.

An ABC need not even open his mouth at a job interview for an English teacher to be turned down.

(Did I make any mistakes, Ironlady?)


I’m wondering if you couldn’t be a little more specific about your problem and a little less emotional?

On a side note as the moderator of the “Living in Taiwan” forum, I’d prefer if you chose some nicer words to use.


…but nicer words don’t make his point, do they?

Ironlady, what on earth are you talking about? “I can speak Mandarin” is a normal enough sentence to my ears. “I can speak Spanish. I can speak English.” What is your point here?

Also, “turned down from” is also common enough to hear (and read) from native speakers. I assume you prefer it to be “turned down by Hess” and I do to, but I wouldn’t make judgements these days based on someone’s command of idiomatic expressions. Do a search on Google for “turned down from” and you will find many entries that match Emua’s I was “turned down from Hess.”

Oh, this is not meant to be a slam by the way. Just wondering what you’re thinking? Sometimes we tend to hypercorrect ourselves after being away from the mother tongue for too long.


cos you spotted one before doesn’t mean you’ll do it everytime! Actually people leave out preopositions when they write e-mail all the time, me included. I thought the post looked right on native English to me.

Hello Meiguoren.
I am in Taiwan two years now. I forget all my English . I was native speaker when I come to Taiwan first time. Now I go to Hess to learn English from Meiguoren Laoshi so can speak very well – how are you , and you?
It is a sunny day.

thank you

Some of you folks are so naive and ignorant it makes me sick. If you’re white, of course you’re going to recieve favorable treatment. But if you’re anything else, you’re going to experience unfair discrimination and even racism. It’s the truth, people. Just because you haven’t exprienced racism yourself doesn’t mean it isn’t common. Maybe you don’t have any friends or relatives that are either ABC or Asian-Westerner, but I can assure you there is some serious discrimination happening in this country. And in the case of black folks, I would even venture to call it racism. I’ve met several English school owners and managers who have said straight-out that blacks are too scary to kids. Ridiculous. They’re afraid of hairy-armed white people, too, but they have no problem getting a job.

Furthermore, I’ve met several native English speakers with worse grammar (and especially spelling) than most of the ESL ABC’s and Asian-Americans I’ve met. This is often even more evident in their written English.

Unfortunately, where the schools don’t discriminate is when it comes to ethnic Chinese. Whether they’re native English speaking or not, they’re all piled into the same group. They’re not considered ‘real’ foreigners. It would seem that most schools’ priority is that their teachers look like foreigners, as opposed to being qualified English teachers. The vast majority of schools want nothing more than a marketing tool, and if you believe anything less, you’ve really been taken for a fool. If you can convince whoever runs your school to be candid with you, they’ll tell you what the real deal is.

For any h0nkie who wants to try first-hand what it feels like to be discriminated against on the grounds of race, go try to get a job at the Taipei Times.
Here are some classics you’ll no doubt hear:
You don’t understand because you’re not Chinese.
You don’t know how to talk to Chinese people.
You can’t talk to HIM like that!
It’s broken. It must have been a foreigner.

Perhaps more telling is the “glass ceiling” that others have mentioned:
Inexplicable hirings and promotions.
Foreigners first in staff cuts.
General staff admonishments posted solely in English and praise solely in Chinese.

Let the guy answer and say if he’s a 100% native English speaker before we go into more detailed analysis, OK?

As for finding things on Google…you can find examples of “Spanish translater”, too, but it doesn’t make it right. Google searches are usually useful to see which form is more prevalent (say you’re translating something from Chinese to English and you’re not sure if the more acceptable term would be “widget” or “flidget” in some context, so you search both and compare the number of occurrences.) It’s not exact, and it’s not really going to tell you what’s correct and what’s not.

And I pointed out “can speak Chinese” because it doesn’t fit into the context of the post (it’s not parallel to the previous verb forms in that sentence) and it seems unlikely that a native speaker would speak or write that, IMHO. Of course there is nothing wrong with “I can speak Chinese” as a sentence on its own (except that the way my Chinese is, I’m going to wait until I’m about 70 before I try using that particular sentence. )


I think the real proof that the schools really just want blonde window-dressing in many cases was that ad awhile back from “Lion” language school (or something like that) asking for foreigners to stand around for their opening day. I’m sure they were thinking of the blue-eyed, blond-haired type.

Getting back to the topic…

I am a Native Brit, Ruddy complexion and pale skin, blue eyes etc.

My kids are Half-Chinese, my wife is a Da lu ren (Mainland Chinese).

They have been blessed with blond/red hair and darker central china “working class” skin, their eyes are dark but large and bright.

They are coming to Taiwan in 2 months, and probably starting at the British school.

I am waiting to see how they will be accepted by the local kids who play on our block, my eldest speaks mandarin, my youngest only English.

So far, compared to the Mainland, I have noticed that the Locals here can be really quite unpleasant to Laowai, much more finger pointing and comments, generally not as friendly as Mainland Chinese. This may be because I have only been here for about a month and not had time to build proper relationships.

But I can be sure of one thing,

The blacks have it the worst, even my wife, and we have been married a long while, will not accept from me that black people are the same as white (aside from colour). I have several black friends and she tries really hard to get on with them, but you can see, that they actually physically make her skin crawl. This is in-built discrimination, she has never had a bad experience with one, but just seems to reject them.

I heard that even Black guys have problems getting hookers in Taiwan, which really highlights the problems here (compared to Japan, which is a coloured man’s adventure playground).

So, I think the many Chinese can discriminate, not all, but many.

I thought this thread was about discrimination and racism. Please don’t hijack it and turn it into some kind of nerdy discussion on whether the “phrase was parallel to the previous verb form” or not. For god’s sake ironlady get a life!

To Ironlady:

Yes, I’m a “native English speaker.” I was born at Saint Bernardine’s Hospital and raised in San Bernardino - lived in Southern California my entire life.

To ironlady,

Yeah, I know it was clumsy wording, but I just wanted to add to the post. It got my point across right?

Sorry, bud, I know some foreigners who work at Hess HQ personally. This company simply isn’t in the position to turn away good people – they are growing and they are always at a shortage (annual teacher turnover well over 50%!)

I also know too many ABCs, CBCs and Asian-Americans who have taught there over the years

In short, it wasn’t your ID. It was something else.