There are a lot of Mormons in Taiwan. They really stand out - Westerners in white dress shirts and ties, riding bicycles, even in the hottest weather. They strike up conversations with everybody, and they learn Mandarin surprisingly quickly.
They offer free English classes, which many Taiwanese take advantage of. The lessons have a strong religious theme, but the predominantly Daoist Taiwanese are quite willing to listen. Some even convert to Christianity.
To the casual observer, the Mormons seem to come and go from some mysterious source. We know about Utah, but we don't really know where they live in Taiwan, or much about their lives.
So I was interested to hear that President Obama has chosen Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Beijing. Mr. Huntsman is a Mormon who did missionary work in Taiwan for one year, and still speaks Mandarin.
According to the Asia Times Online, Beijing is happy with this choice:
Beijing has responded enthusiastically to the nomination of an envoy with proven sensitivity to Chinese culture and an appreciation of the nation's importance. The People's Daily hailed the appointment of "Hong Bopei", his Chinese name, as "good steel being used where it is needed most", and noted the importance of Obama securing Republican consensus for its China policy.