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Pulitzer Center Update October 27, 2015

This Week: Democracy on the Mainland?

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Can China take over Taiwan without reunification? Many on Taiwan are worried that that's what it's...

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Street scene in Taipei, Taiwan. Image by Richard Bernstein. Taiwan, 2015.


"The old barriers have crumbled, the old animosities have abated, and as a result, millions of people from the authoritarian mainland of China now spend various lengths of time on democratic Taiwan," writes grantee Richard Bernstein in this perceptive piece for Foreign Policy and the Asia Society's China File.

"On average, about 11,000 mainland tourists arrive every day at Taoyuan Airport in Taiwan, the democratic, self-governing island of 23 million that mainland China considers a rogue province. Several thousand mainland students are studying at Taiwan's colleges and universities. It's just as quick, and almost as administratively easy, for a Taiwanese to fly from Taipei to Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangdong as it is for a New Yorker to go to Washington," he reports.

So has the inevitable cross-pollination of ideas planted the seeds of democracy on the mainland? Not likely, says Richard, who spoke with several young mainlanders studying in Taiwan. "Ultimately, the reason the mainland authorities do not seem especially worried about 'spiritual pollution' being carried back to China from places like Taiwan is their confidence that they can repress it." As one student told Richard, "We are forced to go back. We need to work. We need to live…The democratic ideology makes no sense for your daily life."


This week, as Israelis mark the 20th anniversary of Yitzak Rabin's assassination, his dream of peace stands in stark contrast to the dreary reality of a society convulsed by daily rituals of hatred and violence.

Pulitzer Center grantees Rich Lord and Larry Roberts of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are in Israel and the occupied territories, talking with former Pittsburgh-area residents from both Jewish and Palestinian communities, chronicling the hopes and challenges of those who have chosen to make this harsh land their home.

"My daughter, who was born in 1999, has never had the opportunity to deal with Israelis that are not army people," one Palestinian man tells Rich. "The only Israeli she knows is an Israeli standing at a checkpoint pointing a gun at her father... I try the best that I can to convey that not all Israelis are like that."


Three new student fellow projects were launched this week: Priya Ramchandra traveled to Andhra Pradesh in India to look at a new program to manage healthcare for the poor in India, showing us that financial assistance can mean the difference between life and death.

Rodrigue Ossebi from LaGuardia Community College interviews African immigrants in France who have risked their lives to escape corruption or war only to face education and employment discrimination in France. Wake Forest University student Charlotte Bellomy reports on Muslim immigrants in Paris—questioning whether the banning of hijabs limits female autonomy.

To read about other student fellow projects see "2015 Pulitzer Fellows Explore Lessons Learned in Global Reporting" by outreach coordinator Lauren Shepherd, a recap of the student fellow panels from the Washington Weekend—with links to YouTube videos of each panel.

For more on the Washington Weekend read "Be Present: Journalist Guest Speakers Advise Fellows on Their Craft," by education coordinator Amanda Ottaway who shares wisdom from New York Times White House correspondent Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Istanbul-based journalist Emily Feldman, and our own senior adviser Marvin Kalb.

"Reporting in the Field: A Game of Dominoes" by intern Jessica Obert and "The 'Secret Sauce' of Shaping and Pitching" by news assistant Akela Lacy sum up the lively discussion provided by other panelists: Kyra Darnton, Mark Dolan, Anup Kaphle, David Rochkind, Nick Schmidle, Allison Shelley, and Sarah Weiser. Many thanks to all for providing useful tips for new and veteran journalists.

And don't miss the video "Student Fellows Washington Weekend Highlights" from the October 16 and 17 events. Produced by Jessica Obert and Evey Wilson, it provides a peek into the fellowship program and captures shared experiences—and a good bit of the fun.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor

Kem Knapp Sawyer
Contributing Editor





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Democracy and Authoritarianism

Democracy and Authoritarianism