A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities (雙城故事), is a love letter to both Taipei and San Francisco. The series, released in the United States on Netflix in January 2019, is the story of a Taiwanese woman living in Taipei, Lee Nien-Nien, and a Taiwanese-American woman living in San Francisco, Josephine Huang. The show follows their travels between the two cities and pays close attention to cross-cultural differences and similarities while it explores the many connections between Taiwanese and Americans. John Derderian, Director of International Originals at Netflix, stated that the show is intended to bring “the multi-cultural worlds of Taiwan and America” to an international audience.
San Francisco is a popular destination for Taiwanese tourists and Taiwan is one of the top four fastest growing international markets for inbound tourism to the city. In California, Taiwanese visitors spent over $350 million in 2016 alone. Meanwhile, US visitors to Taiwan have also been increasing. From 2015 to 2018 there was more than a 20% increase in visitors from the United States to Taiwan. A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities was funded in part by Taiwan’s Ministry of Cultural Affairs to continue to promote the relations, both personal and economic, between these two Indo-Pacific cities.
San Francisco and Taipei are sister cities and their ties extend far beyond just exchanging tourists. According to the 2010 US census, the California Bay Area is home to the second largest population of Taiwanese Americans in the country, including Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan when he was 10 years old. Foxconn, a Taiwanese owned company, is responsible for much of the manufacturing of Bay Area technological products like the iPhone. California exported over $9 billion to Taiwan in 2016. From the interpersonal and cultural connections explored in A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities to economic benefits, Taipei and San Francisco are closely linked.
Mark Witzke is a participant in the East-West Center in Washington’s Young Professionals Program. He is also a graduate student studying international politics at UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and the editor in chief of the school's China Focus blog.