Foreigners in Taiwan Can Forget About Civil Rights

In recent news, a 25-year-old Spanish national living in Taichung was accused of sexual assault by an unnamed 17-year-old Taiwanese girl.

As with many democratic nations, Taiwan has laws that are designed to protect those within its borders to ensure fair and just treatment.  Taiwan has a variety of customs (backed up by various laws and traditions) that protect The People.  It’s one of the foundations of their modern society and government, stemming most notably from “三民主義,” or “The Three Principles of The People.”

Modern Taiwanese are often paranoid about their identities being revealed after being the subject of public accusation.  This means that, in media, peoples’ full names are not released and pictures of them will obscure faces through a mosaic.

That is, unless you’re a foreigner.

As you can see in the above-mentioned story, we all know exactly who Sergio Hidalgo Peña is.  But for all that crack journalism, Apple Daily can’t even get his name in the proper order: they think is last name is Sergio.  They can’t even spell Hidalgo right!

 

pena1

Apple Daily

 

So, right from the start, we’re dealing with a level of journalism that can’t even be bothered to do a Google search of “HILDLGO PENA SERGIO” before they decide to plaster it all over the internet.  The primary picture is of Peña, who has not been found guilty and is out on bail, doing a typical “perp walk,” with Apple Daily doing their best to imply guilt as immediately as possible.

 

pena-perp-walk-3

Apple Daily; 20th Century Fox

 

And it’s not just the images that stack the deck!  The language used in the title is extremely inflammatory regarding Westerners in Taiwan and does nothing but encourage Taiwanese xenophobia.

It literally calls him “西班牙洋腸,” or an “exotic Spanish sausage,” which is alluding to exactly what you think.  There’s an old stereotype that “Westerners just come to Taiwan to have sex with Taiwanese girls” and this prejudice dies hard, even in…and I use this term very loosely…professional news media.  Of course, the comments section of the article has been flooded with angry Taiwanese citizens complaining about how Taiwanese girls love foreign sausages more than Taiwanese ones.

Obviously Apple Daily nor the commenters make any mention of the 1000+ sexual assaults each year that are Taiwanese-on-Taiwanese (though Taiwan’s Ministry of Interior suspects that only 10% of the actual number of sexual assaults in Taiwan are reported), because that doesn’t serve their hate and fear mongering.  The focus of this story is to burn a foreigner at the stake for a variety of reasons, ranging from “selling newspapers” to “encouraging nationalism.”

It’s the kind of fascist behavior you’d expect of a Hearst-run newspaper 100 years ago, making Americans believe that black men were all running around raping white women.  Yet, for the penchant for provocative and racy stories in Taiwanese media, this story of a Taiwanese national accused of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering his mother in Los Angeles last February was conspicuously absent from all Taiwanese media, even as he now awaits possible execution.

Coupled with the total disclosure of Peña’s name and face, they’re pretty much calling for a civil lynching, while ignoring any aspects of this or other stories that might make Taiwanese people “lose face.” But they couldn’t care less about Peña’s face: it’s plastered across the island for all to see!  There’s no way this guy can get a fair trial, now.  If Peña was named Chen, Huang, or Lin, that’s all we would know about him, assuming the story would even be picked up by any media outlet, which is unlikely given the thousands of Taiwanese-committed sexual assaults each year and a virtual media moratorium on the subject.  For many Taiwanese, there is one set of standards of behavior for “those like us” and a different set for “everyone else.”  That is systemic racism.  This story is just the most recent example.

If Taiwan does not offer equal protection to all, whether from a news outfit or from a government, Taiwan has no business pretending it is a free democratic nation that cares about civil rights.  You can not claim to be a nation of modern law and also be racially-selective about who is protected under 三民主義.  There is no way to say your nation is one that embraces human rights – you can not profess that you are not like China – when you adhere to the idea that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

26 thoughts on “Foreigners in Taiwan Can Forget About Civil Rights

    • Strange, I hadn’t heard about that. I looked it up and the first thing I came to was a local Taiwanese media article that headlined the story with a picture of the foreigner… that showed his face.
      “There goes your theory again”, Davey Wavey…

    • I see that you also have a blog. You seem to take a different approach than Fritz, though. Where as Fritz regularly has comments, shares, lots of attention, etc, it appears you prefer to go the other direction, having no comments, no shares, etc.
      Interesting.
      Do you feel like having a blog that nobody reads or cares about helps get your creative juices flowing, or?

  1. Trash article. Your words made me cringe. As an American who’s lived in Taiwan for the past 10 years I have to say: you are thoroughly uneducated. You have a good point, but you don’t nearly have enough resources to back it up. Good luck.

    • Shut up white trash ,time for you to go back. Only white Americans talk like this. You people treat Asians like shit in the states . It’s time for us to fight back ,we’re coming for you. Keep acting tough online we don’t really give a fuk.

      • ….So you are saying denying non residents the legal rights you have is your way of fighting back against anti asianacts in the US… I’m sure when any racist white person in the states hears about this they will be smitten with fear.

      • 你在干什么?你真的不要臉。你好幼稚。你隨便罵人。一看你的表頭就知道你沒有水準。你有一點問題。。你可能要去可看神經醫生。。。。

          • From the piece:

            For many Taiwanese, there is one set of standards of behavior for “those like us” and a different set for “everyone else.” That is systemic racism.

      • Actually, Asians are treated very well in the states. You are definitely mistaken about this. And by the way, no one is on the offensive against Asians in the states. You are wasting your time looking for a fight with Americans.

  2. I feel safe as a foreigner in TW, however I was shocked over a particular incident. when I had opened a cab door that was against the side walk, not on the street by any level and a scooter flew through just close enough to knock himself over, it was a very minor accident and no injury or noticeable damage could be seen, however I had to wait 40 minutes while a police officer showed up then stand around for another 40 minutes while the taxi and scooter debated to the police in Chinese, finally was released only after I agreed to pay the scooter driver, I asked what I was paying for and to see the laws that governed where scooters had right of way and where they did not, no one could produce this document so I just payed and went on my way, something more familiar to me in a country like india where bribes are just part of getting form a to b. I know that saving face in this sort of confrontation is also part of Chinese culture and i can respect that to a certain extent.
    In light of Apple daily it is just a tabloid magazine, they print anything that “tabloid readers” will get off to. I have had several Taiwanese business men contest to that.

  3. well written again, your blog is one of the better ones out there, doesn’t matter if we don’t all agree or not. IN this case I personally think you are spot on, there is an undercurrent of racism at work. or should that be over current since it is so obvious!
    Plus the damn reporter can’t even spell the suspects name right, have some respect!

  4. I have seen a serious issue along these lines affect close friends at least two times. They were accused of crimes and forbidden to leave the country, yet their residency and work permits were cancelled or expired so they had no way to renew these or support themselves. This is an obvious human rights violation. As far as I know, there is nothing in place to address this catch-22. If they are barred from leaving and working both, the government should provide a living allowance. One could easily bankrupt a foreigner through false accusations by exploiting this legal shortcoming.

  5. Joseph, I have to say first that I don’t always agree with the article you write but I couldn’t agree more with you on this last piece. Having experienced first hand the judicial and carceral system in Taiwan I can confirm that being a foreigner (American, Canadian, French but also Thai, Philipino or from any other nationality actually) makes things very difficult. The sentences are heavier for foreigners and the justice is quite expeditive. And don’t let me start on the conditions of living inside a Taiwanese prison… slave labor, overcrowded cells, very very poor medical care, filthy environment, etc…. Shame for this country that keeps bragging on about how advanced, modern and just it has become.

    • Thanks for the link! Although, it’s a news story written in Chinese by a group based in the USA; that’s not the same thing as it being picked up by Taiwanese media groups (which the story was not).

  6. I believe under Taiwanese law that this article constiutitutes insult, which is a crime in this country. Hence I believe it should be prosecuted as such. Not only by the individual, but by all europeans in Taiwan/

  7. “This means that, in media, peoples’ full names are not released and pictures of them will obscure faces through a mosaic.”

    Maybe I live in another Taiwan for more than a decade now, but especially in TV news it is very common to always reveal the full name and to show a face, either taken on camera or a picture stolen from Facebook, no matter if it’s about foreigners or Taiwanese. The same applies at least for full names in newspapers, it seems to be a straight copy from American media.

    Do you even know which “newspaper” you are writing about? It’s Apple Daily, something I would never dare to call a real newspaper. It’s a good thing to stand up and criticize their way of reporting things, but please get a broader view. There are by far more Taiwanese mistreated by Taiwenese media than foreigners could ever be, don’t try to segregrate this incidence. There is no fair media for anyone in Taiwan.

  8. Pingback: Taiwan's Yellow Journalism Strikes Again

  9. well the guy was
    Found not guilty..Apple published the acquital and
    Still showed the picture of his arrest photo, no masking. arseholes.

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