Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Political Fanatics

We submitted three abstracts to the Second Ditan International Conference on Infectious Diseases in Beijing under the command of my boss. All abstracts were accepted for oral presentation and I was asked to be one of the presenting authors for the abstracts submitted. For my boss' political concerns, I was asked to use my own vacation time to participate in this conference while the others applied for a business trip. I was punished for being a hard worker who didn't spend the annual paid leave for travel.

The power point was another battlefield for Taiwan and China. My cover slide contained a presenting title, authors and organizations. By default setting, the size of the title is the biggest followed by authors then organizations which were categorized as sub-titles. My boss wasn't happy about the size of the organizations on the slide and yelled at me "if you're worried that the word Taiwan would cause you troubles, you might as well not go to the conference". I have no problem telling people where I am from and politics was not taken into account when I made the slides. I made the organizations line as big as my title was, even though it looked awkward, and added the organization logo in every slide. In my speech, I took the time to tell everyone in the room that I was from Taiwan, an act that my boss instructed me to avoid in the speech. After the section, two moderators came to shake my hand and thanked me for an excellent speech and commented that the Taiwan groups did a wonderful job.

Everybody seems crazy about cross-strait politics in Beijing, especially when taking a taxi. They are proud of how much the government has lifted the ban on politics and how many channels regarding politics are avaliable now. I heard the news in Beijing about Chen Shui Bien being held in custody and that he had embarked on a hunger strike. In the news, legislators of the KMT urged Chen Shui Bien to face the law even a legislator of the DPP, Kao Zhi Pong, condemned the act of a hunger strike as being heartless. Of course the speech of Kao Zhi Pong was edited. It's ironic that while people are celebrating the slack in media control, the propoganda is progressing via the media. Are you DPP or KMT? What do you think about DPP/KMT? Do you think Chen Shui Bien is guilty? Of all the questions, this one amused me a little: do you have a communist party? All I cared about was how I could get a set meal with two pieces of spicy chicken, french fries and a coke from the KFC. (Only chicken wings are spicy in KFC, Beijing)

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