“The average group tourist was not impressed by Taiwanese democracy at all. They found Taiwanese democracy to be messy and chaotic.”

In this episode of The News Lens Radio, academic Ian Rowen takes us inside more than 10 years of research into Chinese tourism to Taiwan.

Ian shares fascinating accounts of what Taiwanese tour guides discuss with their Chinese guests and what Chinese tourists really think about Taiwan’s democracy. He analyzes whether Taiwan has actually benefited from opening up its borders to millions of Chinese, and he shows how Taiwan’s experience has important lessons for other countries trying to benefit from an influx of Chinese tourists. Cross-strait tourism is, like many things in Taiwan, a complicated field. Ian’s insights will help you deconstruct what can be a somewhat misunderstood area.

About Ian Rowen

Ian's work on culture, politics, and place-making has appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, the Annals of Tourism Research, The New York Times, the BBC Chinese, The Guardian among other publications.

He has until recently been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Ethnology at Academia Sinica and an Associate Researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Taipei, Taiwan. Before earning his PhD in Geography in 2016, Ian worked as a translator, journalist, musician, tour guide, hotelier and entrepreneur. He is fluent in Mandarin and Bahasa. He will next month start a new role as assistant professor of Geography at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

You can read more about Ian and his extensive research interests via his website and follow him on Twitter.

Editor’s note: This podcast is available via the SoundCloud, Stitcher and iTunes apps.

Editor: Olivia Yang