Friday, June 20, 2014

The Tang Prize

On the road in Miaoli.

The Tang Prize is out and the first recipients are being made public this week. The Tang Prize website explains:
Dr. Samuel Yin established the Tang Prize in December 2012 to encourage individuals across the globe to chart the middle path to achieving sustainable development by recognizing and supporting scholars for conducting revolutionary research in the four major fields of Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and the Rule of Law. The Tang Prize is truly global in reach, with laureates selected on the basis of the originality of their research along with their contributions to society irrespective of their nationality or ethnicity.
Another section of the website says:
Dr. Samuel Yin, founder of the Tang Prize, is currently chairman of the Ruentex Group and chief development officer, chief technology officer, and chief engineer of Ruentex Construction & Development. He is also an adjunct professor in the department of civil engineering at National Taiwan University and a professor at Peking University, where he advises PhD students.

Dr. Yin read history at Chinese Culture University. He received a master's degree in business administration at National Taiwan University and a doctorate in business administration at National Chengchi University.
Yin runs a number of charity programs in China to "bring the two sides closer together" (article). It's not difficult to see where he stands ideologically.

Note the categories. The award in Sinology and the award in Rule of Law represent two KMT critiques of the CCP -- respectively, that the KMT is the true repository of Chinese culture, and the KMT government follows rule of law, unlike the CCP. The first Sinology prize goes to intellectual and scholar Yu Ying-shih, who -- predictably -- was a major scholar of Confucian thought -- you know the KMT is all about Confucianism -- who helped reconcile Confucianism and democracy. He's a critic of the CCP. What a coincidence, a major Confucianist who is a critic of the CCP gets the first prize.

It's not difficult to see what the Tang Prize is about, ideologically. It looks like a mishmash of KMT ideologies in prize form. Did I mention it was named after the Tang Dynasty?

You'd think that Sustainable development... no need to complete the thought. The winner is Gro Harlem Brundlant. She was Prime Minister of Norway. What's the country that China is still peeved at since they awarded a Nobel to Liu Xiabo?

It's probably just a coincidence that it looks like a sly twit of China.

Can't wait to see who they award the Rule of Law prize to tomorrow.

UPDATE: Albie Sachs of South Africa won the Rule of law award. Maybe this might morph into something more than just the KMT vs CCP struggle over who is more "Chinese" and what "Chinese" is. That would be good.
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Anonymous said...

As anyone can see, the important change in Taipei's night markets isn't the "globalization" of food, it's the presence of Chinese tour groups. Shilin, especially, has been overrun and is best avoided. (I hope they made a note of that in the latest Lonely Planet). The vendors are cashing in, of course, by ripping off the tourists. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Exactly right, Anon. It's people from the PRC that fill up the night markets.

For most western foreigners, night markets are full of crap products, so-so food plus you have to deal with throngs of people and motor scooters buzzing around. Its no fun. The government even makes it worse by putting up big signs stating "Tourist Night Market", exactly the opposite of what will attract foreigners. Westerners don't want tourist schlock, they want to experience real life adventure.

Mike Fagan said...

"The vendors are cashing in, of course, by ripping off the tourists. Sad."

If by "ripping them off" you mean that the vendors are raising their prices, then: what on earth else do you expect them to do in response to rising demand? Keep prices unchanged but invest in massive vending stalls to get a better economy of scale? Nightmarkets are intensely crowded places. If there isn't any space, then raising their prices might be the only rational way the vendors can respond.

I wish the best of luck: let them get as much money out of the Chinese as they possibly can and save it for their kids.

Unknown said...


Yu Ying-shih is, with the possible exception of Jonathan Spense, the foremost living historian of China. His main field study is Chinese intellectual history, which inevitably involves dealing with what we call Confucianism. One of his more interesting arguments is how Buddhism transformed classical Confucianism into something almost completely unrecognizable during the Tang and Song dynasties.

He also had very positive comments about the Sunflower movement. His selection is not controversial or particularly politicized.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, Unknown. Its nice that he made pleasant noises about the Sunflowers, lots of unreconstructed mainlander faux democrats in the KMT did. Means nothing. Note that his bio in the award emphasizes his work on Confucianism and democracy.

I'm not so concerned about what kind of scholar he may or may not be but why he was picked.

I guess we'll see what the future brings and be able to look back and judge how politicized all this is.