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Taiwan: Netizens React to Diplomat Accused of Abusing Domestic Labor

Thanks to slow, reluctant legislators, and “some” – or I should say “many” – cruel employers, Taiwan has a notoriously bad record of mistreating foreign labor. However, this time an inconvenient and awkward case has not happened in Taiwan, but in a Taiwanese diplomat's residence in the United States.

The headlines of major newspapers in Taiwan today concern Hsien-Hsien Liu (劉珊珊), the director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Kansas City, who has been accused of underpaying her Philippine housekeeper, restricting her movement and forcing her to work 16 to 18 hours a day. Since Taiwan does not have official diplomatic relations with the US, Hsien-Hsien Liu is a de facto diplomat representing the Taiwanese government, though unofficially.

Most media outlets are discussing the negative impact on Taiwan-US relationships. Politicians from both the ruling Kuomingtang (KMT) or the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) say that the Taiwanese government should be “tough” on asserting Taiwan's sovereignty and demand diplomatic immunity for Liu, even though the federal persecutor told NBC News that since Taiwan is not an sovereign country Liu enjoys no such privilege.

While the rights of the abused maid are totally absent in the Taiwanese political discourse, Twitter users are more reflective about Taiwanese attitudes towards foreign labor.

@ancorena says [zh]:


I guess in many people's minds, the US represents the global human rights standard. But until this moment, Taiwanese is yet to learn from the US legal system how to treat foreign labor correctly. This is an unbelievably absurd drama beyond description.

GJ!Taiwan, a sarcastic fake news twitter account also covers this case [zh]:


According to overseas reports, Hsien-Hsien Liu, the director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, was accused of abusing labor and fraud by forcing her Philippine housekeeper to work overtime and paying her only 1/3 of her wage, and therefore was arrested by the FBI. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Chin-tien Yang admitted this case and expressed a solemn protest: Since what Liu did is nothing but following the tradition of Taiwanese employers, the US should respect it.

Torrent Pien asks [zh] for more details about the case:


It is said that Liu's housekeeper was hired for official purposes, but since the contracted monthly wage is $US 1240, while the housekeeper got only $US 450, where is the missing $790? Liu can either choose to admit that she hired her privately or admit that she has committed corruption.

book686 comments [zh]:

[外交官被逮事件] 目前為止幾位總統候選人都只在主權問題上表態,卻沒人在(勞動)人權問題上發言~~

[On the case of the arrested diplomat] Until now, the presidential candidates only stress their attitude on Taiwan's sovereignty issue, and no one mentions the (labor) human righst issue.

Angel Smile says [zh]:


Let the US punish this kind of axxhole; or if we get this garbage back, even if she has committed corruption, she will still be set free.

Winkai has an idea [zh]:


I think Liu should apply for State compensation from the Taiwan government, which has been encouraging its people to “use” foreign housekeeper abusively. That's why Liu thought she had done nothing wrong.

You can see past reports on Taiwan and labor issues here, here, and here. By the way, foreign housekeepers and carers in Taiwan still have no legal right to labor holidays.

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