Listen to the episode on Spotify here! https://open.spotify.com/episode/1IKfH5R2mLNDpAj6H6Ox2w
TV Anchor (NYC): J. Wong
Correspondent (NYC): A. Chow
Reporter (Taiwan): Tân î-kun (陳怡君)
President (Taiwan): Synan Amumubu
* amumubu is the Tao/Yami word for humpback whale.
01. THE COMMERCIAL
:: Soothing commercial music intro, followed by perky female narration ::
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02. THE NEWS
:: Loud breaking news jingle, followed by male anchor voice ::
TV Anchor: We interrupt your programming with this breaking news from Asia. We have just received eyewitness confirmation that the island nation of Taiwan has disappeared. I repeat, Taiwan has vanished. This is the latest bombshell disappearance, after Hong Kong, Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, parts of the India-Bhutan border, and several others along the Belt and Road have all vanished overnight.
Over here at the Big Apple, crowds are still partying in Time Square and counting down the last minutes of the year. Agnes, what can you tell us about these first hours of 2049 over there?
:: whirling noises as correspondent reports from helicopter ::
Correspondent: Joshua, this is unbelievable, and, at the turn of the New Year. Our news ‘copters are currently unable to get close to the Taiwan Strait, which is guarded by Chinese jets and aircraft carriers. However, one of our stealth drones did manage to break through the PLA line. The pictures it came back with, though. Joshua, take a look at this.
A Taiwan-shaped hole in the seabed. Taiwan, has simply vanished. You see these dots in the surrounding sea? These are where the isles of Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu, Lanyu, Ludao, and Itu Aba used to sit. They’re all gone as well.
TV Anchor: Agnes, how, how is this possible? For a nation the size of the Netherlands or Belgium to just… vanish. What of its 23 million inhabitants?
Correspondent: They’re undetectable by any scanner. The iconic Taipei 101, and the kilometer-tall Takao K1, are both sorely missing from my vantage here. No social grams were shared from Taiwan since this morning. Attempts to reach the US, Japanese, and Australian embassies in Taiwan have failed so far.
TV Anchor: You mentioned the presence of the People’s Liberation Army. Is this an attack from China?
Correspondent: Joshua, it’s very possible that this is the latest in a string of targeted attacks by China. The question is, how do we get Taiwan back? The Taiwanese diaspora is in an uproar; they are furious, saying that the international community has failed to take China’s expansionist actions seriously and now Taiwan has paid the ultimate price for their complicity.
TV Anchor: You have family there too, right? My heart goes out to all the people who were disappeared this week. And all those who are struggling to find their missing loved ones.
Correspondent: Yes. This is catastrophic. Beyond trade and computer chips, we are talking about the loss of a vibrant democracy, one that led the world’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic three decades ago, a beautiful nation with over 5,000 endemic species of animals and plants — such a fatal blow to the world’s plummeting biodiversity levels — and its people, its history, its culture, its languages.
This is a deliberate erasure of identities, silencing of voices, and imposition of authoritarian will. Some are calling it a straight-out genocide.
TV Anchor: Yes, this is a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale across Asia. What’s the international community’s response?
Correspondent: Governments are choosing to remain silent, even when protests are erupting around the world, marching, demanding the whereabouts of Taiwan and the other disappeared places like Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The hashtag #WHEREISTAIWAN is trending, along with #FORMOSAFOREVER. In a show of solidarity — [interruption]
TV Anchor: Agnes, Sorry to cut you off. We have new information that just came in. It looks like we’ve just found Taiwan.
Taiwan has reappeared next to…. Guam, which is some 2,700 km away from the Taiwan Strait. Oh my, it looks like the Taiwanese have figured out how to float their islands. I repeat, Taiwan is now a fleet of floating islands.
If you’re tuning in now, GOA, the Grams of Asia, has secured a live stream from Taiwan, which has uprooted itself from the seabed.
Apparently, Madame President Synan Amumubu activated extraordinary emergency measures late last night in response to China’s recent escalations. What can you tell us, î-kun?
03. THE ISLAND
:: boisterous temple parade sounds, firecracker shootings, people’s voices drifting close enough so that a few words are audible, passersby shouting slogans into the ‘gram as they stroll by ::
Reporter: Joshua, this is such an incredible moment in Taiwan history. As you can see, we are no longer in the Taiwan Strait [gestures and points to palm trees].
People have recovered from the initial shock of being dislodged from the seabed, in what has been revealed as OPERATION MATSU, a decades-long covert program named after a sea goddess highly revered by the Taiwanese, who see her as the maritime country’s spiritual guardian.
Madame President, Synan Amumubu, will address the public momentarily. I’m on standby right now at the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard while everyone awaits the speech. It’s just filled with people celebrating, crying, and hugging each other.
Temple troupes are out on the streets, neighborhoods are ringing with firecrackers, someone just handed me a free beer, and there is talk about making today the new national day. Just incredible. I’m Tân î-kun, reporting from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, which is now just a few minutes away from Guam.
:: whirling noises, static from helicopter reporting ::
TV Anchor: That was Tân î-kun from the floating island of Taiwan, now awaiting ‘gram-smission from the Taiwanese president. Let’s check back in with Agnes. Agnes, are you still on the ‘gram with us?
Correspondent: Yes. I’m on my way to Taipei, right now. I can also see that Taiwan is now fully back online. The country’s top influencers are all ‘gramming again.
TV Anchor: What an interesting solution for Taiwan to escape the authoritarian threat long posed by its neighbor, China. The question is, will China actually give up its claim, now that Taiwan has sailed out of the Taiwan Strait?
Correspondent: Well, it’s not all good news, Joshua. Sources have told me just moments ago that China now plans to build a new island in the same exact spot where Taiwan used to be. Inside Taiwan, not everyone agrees with this escape, either. Major opposition parties are forming an unprecedented alliance to accuse the administration of “stealing” Taiwan. There is also heated discussion over whether to turn back and reclaim their original, some say, ancestral, geographical location.
TV Anchor: Thank you for that update, Agnes. We will return with more analysis on the uncertain future of this newly liberated floating nation. But now, let’s ‘gram back to Taiwan. If you’re tuning in just now. Just minutes ago, the disappeared island of Taiwan has reappeared next to Guam. It turns out, the nation of Taiwan had unlocked itself from the seabed, floated away from the Taiwan Strait, and is now moving in international open waters. It’s unclear at this point what technology it’s using to make this happen. Or more importantly, where the nation is now going.
Right now, Madame President is starting her address to her nation and to the world. In 3. 2. 1.
04. THE PRESIDENT
:: Mandarin and Taiwanese cheers from the crowd, symphonic music, drums beats and sound bites from spectators ::
My fellow citizens, welcome to a new era for Taiwan.
Over the past century, Taiwan has grown more resilient and unified through countless challenges. We have resisted the pressure of aggression and annexation. We have made the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. We have persisted in our pursuit and defense of freedom, and we will always remain committed to our core beliefs: Taiwan is not alone and #TaiwanCanHelp.
This sense of pride in our country, this shared destiny, and the memories of today will live on, in all of our hearts. You, citizens of Taiwan, have shown the world our commitment to survive and thrive, even in times of greatest distress. This is what solidarity feels like.
I also want to take this opportunity, to remind the world that Taiwan remains the first, and now only, line of defense against China’s global order of authoritarianism, nationalism, and economic might. To our international partners, I call on you, to help us keep Taiwan free.
This technology that has enabled us to leave — today — to uproot… it is a daunting but necessary task that will change Taiwan forever. But the time is now. We are on the move. It has been decades of planning, and now we must carry out phase II of OPERATION MATSU — fellow citizens, we will find a new home and we will prevail. We will not be disappeared.
// end //
Why 2049? It is the centennial anniversary of the 1949 retreat. Two years prior, HK lost its SARS protection in 2047. 2049 is the projected completion date for the Belt & Road initiative as well.
What are ‘grams? Grams are short for holograms. Faux future technology.
Is the Takao K1 real? No. But kilometer-tall skyscrapers are being erected in several countries already.
How are there island-shaped holes in the seabed?
To prevent accidentally unleashing a devastating tsunami on our neighbors by displacing too much water, OPERATION MATSU had a contingency plan that involved creating a temporal force field around each controlled underwater explosion. The vacuums in water will remain in place for a few hours before dissipating upon the mechanism’s demise.
Future: From fleet to floatilla.
Written, Edited, and Produced by Min Chao
Performed by Alice Yeh, Min Chao, Trevor Liu, Jennifer Liu, and Marina Chang
Production Coordination by Trevor Liu
Executive Produced by Ghost Island Media
Special Thanks to Blue for providing Yeti Microphone and Futureward for providing the recording room.