This past Wednesday there was a raid drill in Taipei. It began at 2pm while I was still in class. Being a Chinese language class, naturally all of the students were foreigners and none of us knew what was happening when the sirens went off. Our teacher politely explained that it was a raid drill and that we would not be able to leave campus until 2:30pm. When someone asked why they have raid drills, she said “in case we get raided,” and I immediately added, “in case China invades.” My teacher just smiled and nodded her head.
Technically speaking I was alive for the end of the US Cold War, but it ended before I was old enough to be politically conscious of its reality. It has been for me more of a historical event I have read about. The Chinese Civil War is also a historical event I have read about and not a lived reality (of course this would be the case since my parents weren’t even born yet when it started and my family isn’t Chinese). Legally speaking, the Chinese Civil War never ended though, and so technically that would make this a cold war now – if you can call two countries with economic ties at war.
I knew everything in that last paragraph before Wednesday, but on Wednesday a new reality sunk into me. I am living in the center of the capital city of a country whose neighbor has a lot of missiles pointed directly at it.
On Wednesday the bustling city of Taipei shut down. I walked out to the gate of campus and looked upon an empty street. A street that is normally a major thoroughfare and is always packed. There were police at the intersection to ensure that no vehicles or pedestrians were moving about. It was creepy.
Oddly, it was also peaceful. This was the first time I have experienced quiet since moving to Taipei. Although the raid drill did on one level bring a new appreciation to me about the reality of the political situation here, this does not mean it brought any fear. It would not benefit China to invade and it would not benefit Taiwan to voluntarily join them, so from my perspective I don’t foresee an end to the status quo anytime soon.