In November 2013 there was a donation drive by Taiwan-based NGO TIWA to raise money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan featuring an ad on Facebook as to how Taiwanese could raise money and how it would be allocated. The page ended up getting shared hundreds of times and reportedly brought in no shortage of support. However, the page was also met with great criticism from Facebook netizens in Taiwan as the drive followed a recent dispute between Taiwan and the Philippines over a killed fisherman in the South China Sea.
At the time of the drive the Philippines government had already issued a formal apology to Taiwan’s government, but did so roughly three months after the incident happened. The long response angered Taiwanese even more and the Taiwan government even froze imports on foreign labor from the Philippines, which for local manpower agencies both in the Philippines, and Taiwan caused major issues as well.
Below is a list of short dialogues translated from Chinese to English that catches the different sentiments Taiwanese expressed during the donation period that were written in early to mid-November.
“Can’t you tell between what is right and wrong? You are telling people not to donate money to victims of natural disasters…Did those people kill our fishermen?”
“Not sure…But all I know is that Filipinos killed our fishermen.”
“It’s Taiwan’s talent that we need to be donating! One of the biggest things we need to be proud of is our kindness, which is what also gets us more attention in the international arena and makes people respect us. Don’t let the government’s stance on this issue cover up our kindness!”
“That’s weird…I thought Filipinos killed our fishermen.”
“No one should donate.”
“If you are Taiwanese, don’t donate.”
“Do you understand what empathy is?”
“I’m going to give my money to…underprivileged groups in Taiwan!! I love my country, and I love Taiwan. Taiwanese people and their homes need to be save first, as to have a more stable and peaceful nation.”
“No one is requiring you to donate money and people in the Philippines aren’t as well. But we need to think more rationally on this issue. If today I saw a Filipino get hurt I wouldn’t stop and first about the disputes between each other’s governments…I would extend a helping hand right away because that is a person’s life!”
“Taiwan really is the most beautiful place on earth. We have kind hearts and really hope that Filipinos can recover from this disaster. We are all part of this planet. Lets all keep going and nurse this existing space together!”
After the dialogues died down TIWA later responded that it was shocked to see the vast array of responses from Taiwanese and that they would leave it on their Facebook page as a reminder for people to think more critically and rationally on the situation.
Meanwhile, Taiwan is known for having donation collectors located on the streets of major cities, most notably in Taipei, throughout all times of the year and particularly so after major disasters happen both in and out of Taiwan. However, those collectors seemed to vanish within recent months and there were very few other drives and news about donating in the media.