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Beef, a national debate

Walking around Taipei you can find a lot of restaurant with this sign:


The chinese texts says something like “No to US beef.”

Other restaurants also display a pro Taiwanese beef image


Beef dishes, specially beef noodles are very popular in Taiwanese cuisine.
beef noodles

So, obviously, we asked local people and researched on the internet about this hot issue.

Taiwan banned US beef in 2003 when a case of mad cow disease was diagnosed in Seattle. The ban was lifted in April 2005 to allow imports of US de-boned beef from cattle under 30 months but the government reimposed the ban two months later when a second BSE case was discovered in the US. Other countries in Asia applied similar restrictions. The US Meat Federation says Taiwan is the nation’s sixth largest market for US beef, whose total exports were a whopping $3 billion annually.

The links between Taipei and US are very strong. US helped to developed Taiwan with huge investments on infrastructure and helped to grow the local industry “made in Taiwan” few decades ago. At the same time US had several military bases and used Taiwan to keep a close eye on the Communist mainland China. The most recent evidence of this link is the sale of US missiles to Taiwan government (and that has really upset mainland China authorities)

US wanted its beef business back. On 2009, there was a long debate on the political and public scene. The subject made into the national newspaper headlines. You can search for “US beef” on the newspaper library of Taipei Times or Taiwan News.

After this debate the ban was lifted by the Taiwanese authorities late 2009. A lot of citizens did not agree and there were demonstrations and the campaign with the pictures on the restaurants was started


Early 2010 the debate started again and it ended up in a new ban for some kind of US beef imports.

As in many of the controversial issues here (such as on the relationship between mainland China and Taiwan (R.O.C.), the best option for foreigners is to be informed on the arguments used by each side but still remain neutral and not to express a clear position in favor of any of the sides.

The beef and the missiles are examples on how Taiwan is caught between great powers (China and US) on every side.


So we’ll need to wait and see how that develops…

1 Comment

    Is it only American beef that people hate? Thank God, I thought it was also our foreign policy, presidents, ignorance of other countries and our waist sizes. This post makes me feel so much better about my homeland. Glad it is only beef… or is it?