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I can understand your position. But to tell the truth, not every Taiwanese is "myopic". Compared with many foreigners who have never heard of Taiwan or misrecognized Taiwan as Thai, Taiwanese people are not that skin-deep. However, I agree with you that we need to aggressively broaden our global perspectives and develop international awareness as part of global citizens.

Thanks for teaching such an important lesson about this global taboo.


It’s pity, my English ability is not enough to express my opinion, But I still need to say something. I admit this phenomenon existence, but not about KMT, I did not know whether this phenomenon belong to so-called "political correct", It’s could be happen to any country.
When I travel England , I felt some discrimination from local people because Taiwan between the American culture relations, but I could not said, Britian' all so , because I also met British at the London street ,have good experience. I did not know what is your field at Ttaiwan, I must say, any phenomenon formation, not only has a sole reason.
But you do correct job, tells them this symbolic mark the significance, sometime we need to learn from other people, just like the Confucius said that “Three person of lines must have my teacher”,sorry wrong grammar, but I think you know what is my mean.


I'm sorry to rain on your parade but there's always a flipside to the coin. You're perfectly right that the swastika is an extremely offensive symbol associated with Nazi germany , Hitler and all that goes with it. That is in the WEST,however in the EAST it's not considered offensive at all because the swastika's history goes much further back than the second world war. It's not a GLOBAL taboo.It's a sanskrit term meaning good fortune or well being and considered SACRED in Hinduism and Buddhism. Not only in Taiwan but most Eastern countries including Japan and India use it on a daily basis in rituals, ceremonies and as decorations and can be seen everywhere on temples, necklaces, bracelets, clothing etc. She was totally right in saying she'd wear it in Taiwan but wouldn't wear it in the West. She was not the one being myopic. I wonder who was?


To Jennifer,

If you look closely, there is a subtle difference-angle of inclination-between the swastika of Nazi and the swastika of Buddhism.


Ivan- I didn't imply that all Taiwanese are this way. Only some. And you are certainly right about foreign attitudes toward Taiwan. I still think half of my cousins think I live in Thailand!

Sorry, Jennifer, I don't quite understand what you mean with the "political correctness" part. Try again, please!

JO--I think you are misguided here. You don't need to educate me on the history of the swastika--I know it well, thank you. You see "reverse swastikas" all over Taiwan as a Buddhist symbol. Hey, no problem there. Even a swastika used as a Buddhist symbol is fine. BUT, a black swatiska printed in a white circle on a red background is NOT a Buddhist symbol--it is the symbol appropriated by the Nazi party. That swastika is clearly not a Buddhist symbol, no matter what its historical basis. The meaning of words and symbols change, and if you are ignorant to that change, it is myopic. Even if the girl was wearing it as a Buddhist charm, she still needs to know that presented as such, its meaning changes to something else. Something that has tragic global meaning. Here's a website whose name says everything: http://www.reclaimtheswastika.com. There is a great section of photos showing its use as a luck symbol and even as logo for a Canadian women's hockey team. You can reclaim the swastika, sure. But there is nothing that can be reclaimed by wearing the Nazi swastika, as this student did. Take the swastika off of the standard Nazi regalia, and it ceases to have the same meaning.

Good swastika: Download postcard_02_s.jpg (11.2K)
Bad swastika: Download 200px-Nazi_Swastika.bmp (117.2K)


Point taken Mr. Tiger. I just tend to get a bit defensive where TAIWAN is concerned.


first of all read this link:

The swastika symbolizes many different things to different people. You as a westerner see the swastika as a symbol of the holocaust. To many asian people the swastika symbolizes the founding of Buddhism. The commonly recognized symbol of Nazism is the right facing swastika. The Buddhist symbol is the left facing swastika.


Did you even bother to read the responses above?


Once I saw a girl wearing a (yes, Nazi-style) swastika T-shirt at Eslite bookstore. I must have done a double-take or something because she saw me and just looked so pleased with herself for shocking the foreigner. She had this nasty expression on her face. I have been kicking myself for years for not approaching her and asking her what she knew about it, telling her some details of Nazi atrocities and asking her if she thought that was "cute."
I empathize with JO as well--I am defensive about Taiwan, too, and it is true most "Westerners" know precious little about Taiwan or even Asia. But being defensive about Taiwan doesn't mean defending every idiot on the island.


Sure UK has the BBC as well as racism against Jewish people.

Which is better without swastika (refer to http://www.textually.org/picturephoning/archives/2005/01/006816.htm)
but racism toward Jewish people or with swastika but no racism toward Jewish people?

Being ignorant is better than not knowing enough.


The swastika sign actually means "peace" in the original Sanskrit and is an important symbol of fortune and harmony for many Buddhists and persons of South Asian or SouthEast Asian descent and culture. It has a different cultural meaning, it does NOT, in fact, represent the tragic genocide of millions. Projecting that emblem of negativity when it might be quite innocent is a bit unfair.


Just as my shrink told me, it's not the words, or the symbols, by themselves, it's the meaning we attach to them. And I don't know that it makes sense to push so hard (often in futility) to hold others accountable for what we consider their insensitivity. Yes, a swastika can and does readily cause psychological and emotional and intellectual trauma to people. But does it make sense to banish it (I don't care which way the tines point, it's all the same to me) from being seen throughout earth, Asia, the West, Africa, Native America, et al?


For pete's sake, people, READ THE COMMENTS BEFORE POSTING.

Hsin- I know exactly what the swastika is, and what it has been used to represent since that time. Go look at the links I gave you. The Nazi regalia that includes a swastika does, in fact, represent the tragic genocide that killed millions. The normal swastika does not.

DJS- Did anyone suggest banishing the swastika? I am saying wearing the Nazi swastika symbol...AS FASHION JEWELRY...seems tragically ignorant. Wear as many swastikas as you want, all over the world, but the Nazi swastika on the red field will not cease to carry its symbolism. Other swastikas will.

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  • Kin Men 金門 July 2006
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    This blog stands against the fictitious law passed in March 2005 by the P.R.C. proposing that unification is Taiwan's legal and moral duty, even to the point of the P.R.C. using force to uphold that fiction. TaiwanTiger ascribes to the statement of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council that:

    "The Republic of China is an independent and sovereign nation and its sovereignty rests in the hands of the twenty-three million Taiwanese people. Only the twenty-three million Taiwanese people have the right to make the final decision on any change to the nation's status and future."

    反對中國侵略 和平家書串聯
  • Taiwanese Food
    This gallery is gaining a life of its own. Check out the good eats!

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Taiwanese Food

  • Ai Yu 愛玉 3
    So, this seems kind of crazy, but hey we all love to eat, right? In Taiwan, it's considered a hobby. When you go on a trip, you need to stop at such and such town for their great ______. Noodles, shrimp rolls, chicken thighs, soup, whatever. Everyplace seems famous for some addition to the Taiwanese culinary tradition. So here I am attempting to document some of the traditions of eating, the places to go, and the food itself. This will be a difficult and slow moving project, because I feel really strange photographing food in the presence of other diners, especially when I have to stand on a chair to get it all in.

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