“President, dare you say no to USA?”

This morning, newspapers report on a demonstration by hog farmers with mounting anxiety caused by the ongoing debate on whether or not to lift the ban on US beef. They threw eggs and hog poop, and carried signs with the phrase I am quoting in the title of this posting.

I’m listening to Zhao Shaokang Radio Show at 103.3 FM. It’s the absolute favorite radio program of mine. For almost two years, I have been looking for radio stations that cover a broad range of topics, that allow different perspectives. I came across many stations that give me goose bumps, I’m not kidding, either because their topics were just so, rah, or, they are made worse by hosts who fake their interest, double rah! You have to listen to a few to understand what I mean.

Back to US beef, people complained about what was said, what wasn’t. Defenders claimed certain things are understood and not said, and they are not hiding anything from the public.

Zhao commented, Americans are far more direct than Taiwan people in general. They tell you what they want, what they don’t want, whereas Taiwan folks perceive directness as rudeness, worse, a lack of proper upbringing (教養). (I wrote about communication in Taiwan in an earlier posting.)

Zhao talked about other things that are embarrassing in the Taiwan culture but are not of concern for Americans. He told a story about tipping: A Taiwan guy wanted a good seat so he tipped the American, who was seating people, with a 10 dollar bill. Thinking that it must be embarrassing for the American to receive the tip, the Taiwan guy rolled and rolled his bill into a tiny, tight roll. He sneaked it quickly into the hands of that American who, in turn, shined his flashlight on the thingy and with effort, rolled it out to see what it was. I’m imagining the poor Taiwan guy standing there, watching. He must have horror written on his face to see such barbarian act displayed in front of him.

Ah, what cultures do to our presidents! The American president earns credit for being direct and firm whereas the Taiwan president has to act American, yet to compose himself enough to meet the Taiwan standards for good upbringing. What a life!

BTW, I have tipped in America and Taiwan. People were equally discreet.


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