About a month ago, I came across something kind of atrocious yet oddly beautiful trending on Twitter. It was a photo from a Domino’s in Taiwan of its new boba milk tea pizza. It looked like it could taste…OK? A cheap crust topped with milk-tea sauce, mozzarella, honey, and tapioca pearls: As fast-food dessert pizzas go, it looked stickily inviting.
I kept scrolling and, along with this tasty corporate advertising, saw updates about the Hong Kong protests, South Park’s parody of Chinese Communist Party censorship, and the food world’s latest obsession with a new trend called Q. Somewhere amid this eclectic mix of desserts and international conflict, I found another story: one of Taiwanese democratic freedom in the face of the Chinese Communist Party.
This probably isn’t the time or place to get into the lengthy and complicated history of why Taiwan is or is not a part of China, but the gist of it is, Taiwan today is an autonomous, self-governed nation with its own distinct politics, culture, language, and identity. The CCP disagrees with this, as it does with Hong Kong attempting to do the same. Like Hong Kong, Taiwan fights for its autonomy, democratic freedoms, and human rights. Unlike Hong Kong, the issue has yet to be pushed to a dangerous breaking point, but the central conflict remains closely related, and ever more pressing, as Taiwan edges toward January’s presidential elections.
In many ways, the CCP has gone out of its way to try and censor Taiwan out of existence, by either barring participation in the United Nations and other international organizations or forcing Taiwan to work under a different, misleading name. They even bullied a Taiwanese youth choir out of performing at the World Peace Choral Festival. This might sound incredibly petty and insidious, but remember this is from the government that banned a beloved, rotund cartoon bear because of his resemblance to Xi Jinping.
“Food is almost always the first and foremost driver of any culture. … All it takes is to put…