While the People’s Republic of China may not recognize Tsai Ing-wen’s government over in Taipei as legitimate, the politician remains a mildly popular symbol abroad for those anxious over the mainland’s growing economic and political power. Back in 2020, Time called her a “signal lamp casting out China’s looming shadow, conveying to the world that Taiwan will not acquiesce.” 

More recently, Tsai has been in Bushwick, landing in the neighborhood during a Thursday visit to the U.S. that marked her first visit to the country since the COVID pandemic. The intervening years have seen increasing fears of military invasion. Late last year, Xi Jinping told Communist Party officals that “we will never promise to give up the use of force and reserve the option to take all necessary measures” in taking over the island, which has remained in the hands of various Chinese leaders who initially fled the country’s communist revolution in 1949. 

As recently as last month an opinion post in the New York Times last month called “a Chinese invasion of Taiwan” the most likely event to kick off “a major war in the Indo-Pacific.” At a speech later that afternoon, at a politically conservative thinktank called the Hudson Institute, Tsai warned all who would listen that “the people of Taiwan look forward to peace, but history tells us that the best way to avoid war is to make ourselves stronger.” Was war on Tsai’s mind during her stopover on Graham Avenue?

“History tells us that the best way to avoid war is to make ourselves stronger,” Tsai would warn later in the afternoon.

“I was just walking by [and] saw the commotion outside,” says Chris Palermo, who caught the diplomatic tour on Thursday when it stopped by Win Son, an acclaimed Taiwanese-American joint that’s saddled another contentious border, between Williamsburg and Bushwick, since 2016. 

The dream of chefs Trigg Brown and Josh Ku — a pair shortlisted for a James Beard Award in 2019, through ruffled briefly by “toxic workplace” allegations a year later — a recent blurb in Eater reports that their scallion pancake breakfast sandwiches “still hold up surprisingly well.”

Fortitude that Tsai no doubt needs.

Images taken by Chris Palermo.

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