Taipei, Taiwan Project Center - HUA
Taiwan packs a lot of punch. In land area, it measures about 1.3 times the size of Massachusetts, but has more than three times the population. The island, which sits just 100 miles off the coast of southern China, holds a uniquely ambiguous status. Most of the world does not recognize it as an independent country, yet it functions as one. That is to say, most of the world grants diplomatic recognition to mainland China (People’s Republic of China or PRC) as the legitimate government of China (including Taiwan); nonetheless, Taiwan (Republic of China or ROC) continues to act as an independent nation state in most regards. Its peculiar status stems from the stalemated Chinese Civil war. This has made for a different China experience on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. On one side, the PRC is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party and has embarked on economic reform over the past few decades. On the other side is Taiwan—which has a capitalist economy and has embarked on political reform over the past couple of decades, making Taiwan today a vibrant democracy. These quite different experiences mean that Taiwan offers students access to different aspects of the Chinese experience than mainland China. Taiwan is known for its vibrant and colorful temple life, its newly forged democracy, its world-recognized food scene—both in terms of restaurants and its famed night markets, its modern cities that weave in elements of traditional life, dramatic mountainous terrain, ecotourism, and more. Students will live in Taipei most of the time, but will also make an excursion outside of Taipei.