News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tentative Study Plan proposal for grad school :

I grew up in the United Kingdom, West and Central Africa, the United States and Canada. After earning a bachelor's degree in history from the University of XX, I came to Taiwan in 1987. In 1990 I began to teach myself Chinese and have worked as a translator since 1993. Over the years I have been employed primarily by XX but have also performed translations on behalf of The Golden Horse Awards, The Taipei Film Festival, and The Ministry of Education. Over the past four years I have vigorously pursued an amateur interest in writing and completed a memoir, two novels, numerous essays and book reviews. Two years ago I operated an amateur East Asian news web site (, now defunct) for one full year, updating online news six days a week. During the summer of 2004, I served briefly as a volunteer assistant to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator, the honorable XX. In the autumn of 2004 I married R.O.C. citizen XX.

International relations is a prominent interest of mine given my residence in Taiwan and the constant friction between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China. To facilitate my understanding of the causes of this friction, I have read up on the social and political history of Taiwan and of China, and also dabbled in military history, cultural anthropology, media studies, economics, and other fields. Naturally, having a working knowledge of these and other fields is critical to making informed decisions about developments in relations between the ROC and PRC.

If admitted to your program there are several fields I would like to study. For example, I would like to research the effect of information suppression, urban legends, and official propaganda upon the formation of PRC foreign-policy.

Restrictions upon freedom of expression lead to an absence of required information flowing through needed channels but also to a widespread ignorance of history, a dearth of open debate, undeveloped critical thinking skills, plus decision-making which is vitally out of touch with reality. Without free speech, urban legends continue unchecked and decisions are formed on the basis of everything from hearsay to traditional almanacs and cult worship. Official propaganda strives to propagate popular belief in imaginary enemy states such as Japan and the United States and actively cultivates popular racialism and xenophobia.

A February 8, 2005 article in The People's Daily claimed to scientifically prove aspects of Chinese racial superiority and reasserts the validity of Lamarckian genetics (a theory abandoned by most since the appearance of Darwinian genetics). One can laugh at this and other articles but many are taken quite seriously by many people, including presumably many foreign policy decision makers. Evidence of this is that Jiang Zemin and other leading officials pay big money to be the first to pray at temples during Chinese New Year.

Conspiracy theories, junk science, etc. are used to explain such events as the accidental bombing of the PRC embassy in Belgrade. The result is a profound misunderstanding of the democratic policy formation process in such entities as the Republic of China and the United States, not to mention the presumption of conspiracies controlling power and making policy decisions in both.

I would like to research PRC conspiracy theories with regard to their impact on international relations. I would also like to trace PRC conspiracy theory formation from its various roots (the most important of which I believe is animism) and then move up to the expression of conspiracy theories at the policy level and trace their impact upon PRC relations with the ROC and the US.

In short, this and related topics in international relations are fascinating and I believe that your program has much to teach me about the international relations field and about conducting related research. In turn through hard work, integrity, and innovation I can contribute to the good name of your program. I thank you for considering my application.


  1. in need of good editor

  2. Hi Fred: you mean the study plan (which I suspect is too long) or the whole blog...haha...?


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