On Friday evening, Roy, Wayde and I did a panel discussion with three Taiwanese writers– Hao Yu-Hsiang, Lin Wenchi and Feng Pin-Chia, moderated by Liao Hsien-Hao, the Commissioner for the Taipei City Government Deparment of Cultural Affairs. The Canadian writers were to talk about our impressions of Taiwan; the Taiwanese writers were to talk about their impressions of Canada.

Our respective assumptions about the content of the talks was as interesting as the talks themselves. In our inimitable activist way, we were critical and perhaps somewhat rude, laying out all the tough stuff– 228, aboriginal issues, betel nut girls. In their open and generous way, they were kind and personal. I wondered afterwards if we’d offended. In Asia, I am sometimes very aware (though always after the fact) of my clumsy blunt North Americanness. I’m coming from a good place. But what if my drive towards liberation is rude? Are in-your-face politics always productive?

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