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Curious John

English Service host John Van Trieste is curious. There’s nothing about Taiwan’s many cultures that he doesn’t want to know more about. Join him every week as he gets to the bottom of yet another question. What will he be curious about this time?

What's On

06 November, 2021
Taiwan and Somaliland

It’s a flourishing democracy with no seat at the UN, a sizable country not labeled on many maps. The place I’m describing might well be Taiwan! But instead, today, I’m talking about Somaliland, a state that sits atop the Horn of Africa. Like Taiwan, Somaliland is a republic with its own government, flag, currency, and military. It issues its own passports and holds its own elections. But despite its stability in a region full of turmoil, Somaliland, like Taiwan, remains a place the international community largely ignores. However far apart they may be on the globe, the list of things Taiwan and Somaliland have in common goes on and on. You might even say, as my guest does today, that Taiwan and Somaliland are natural allies. He is Abdiqani Muse, Head of Development and Culture Affairs at the Somaliland Representative Office in Taipei. Over the next two weeks, he’ll be explaining how and why Somaliland came to be, why Somaliland and Taiwan make for natural friends, and what the future holds for these two, the odd couple on the international stage.

30 October, 2021
Taiwan's Lithuania-mania

Until a few months ago, the average person in Taiwan knew fairly little about the Baltic country of Lithuania. But since July, the country has been catapulted into the spotlight here, and all things Lithuanian are in. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this love of all things Lithuanian has been Rolandas Pridotkas, CEO of Lithuanian chocolate maker Ruta. Today, Mr. Pridotkas joins us by phone from the town of Šiauliai, Lithuania for an overview of his company and its sudden surge in popularity here in Taiwan.

23 October, 2021

Taiwan today ranks among the world’s healthiest societies, with cheap and high quality healthcare for all and an epidemic command center that’s made Taiwan a rare success story in handling COVID. But the good health Taiwan enjoys today is quite new, and it hasn’t come without hard work. Within living memory, diseases like cholera and polio were common scourges, crippling and killing with regularity. Our national health insurance system, meanwhile, is only a generation old. And all but the youngest of Taiwanese people  remember the horrors that SARS unleashed here. Taiwan’s long struggle against disease is the subject of a new exhibit at the National Taiwan Museum called On the Cusps of Epidemic Crises. The exhibit’s designer, Chang An-qi has already walked us through the first half of the exhibit, focussed on pre-WWII Taiwan. She now joins us for a look at how Taiwan’s battle against disease has gone since the war’s end.

16 October, 2021
Health and disease in Taiwan's past

If there’s one thing Taiwan can justly pride itself on, it’s its high standard of public health. There’s cheap, universal healthcare here, and the average Taiwanese person lives to a ripe old age. And COVID-19? No problem—-thanks to wise decisions taken early on, that’s had a minimal impact here. It’s easy to imagine that Taiwan has always been a healthy place like this, but that is far from the case. In fact, just over a century ago, Taiwan had the opposite reputation. People called it “an isle of disease”, an absolute graveyard for visitors and invaders, and a place where even the locals helplessly dropped dead all the time. How did that Taiwan become the clean and healthy place it is today? This is the question at the heart of a new exhibit at the National Taiwan Museum: On the Cusps of Epidemic Crises. Joining us today for a walk through the exhibit is its designer, museum researcher Chang An-chi.

09 October, 2021
Belize-Taiwan ties

A discussion with Belize's ambasaddor to Taiwan, Her Excellency Ambassador Candice Pitts, about the reasons behind the enduring relationship between Taiwan and Belize, plus what diplomatic ties between these two nations mean on the ground.

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