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German TCM practitioner and stinky tofu lover becomes naturalized Taiwanese

Ma Pei De, fascinated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, moved to Taiwan in 1998 to pursue studies

Photo: Immigration Department

Photo: Immigration Department

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A German academic and medical professional has become a naturalized Taiwanese citizen after practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Taiwan for 12 years.

Silver-haired, with deep-set facial features and acupuncture equipment on either side of him, this is Ma Pei-de (馬培德), a doctor from Germany. Currently the attending physician at Jianxiang Chinese Medicine Clinic in Hsinchu, he is also an assistant professor in the Department of TCM of China Medical University in Taichung. In May this year, he obtained Taiwanese nationality, making him a true Taiwanese.

A fluent Mandarin speaker, not only is Ma’s accent very local, even his preferences are Taiwanese. He is particularly fond of the famous Taiwanese night market snack, stinky tofu. When it comes to the history of TCM healthcare, he can speak professionally on the subject, discussing lessons from the ancient Chinese medical text “Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor” (黃帝內經) all the way to modern medical research.

Practicing martial arts from an early age, his idols include Bruce Lee (李小龍) and Sammo Hung (洪金寶) whose movies he continues to enjoy. Perhaps it was due to his early interest in East Asian culture and TCM that Dr. Ma de's destiny came to be deeply intertwined.

Ma revealed that because of his interest in TCM, in 1998 he decided to come to Taiwan to study TCM and the Chinese language. Even after obtaining a TCM practitioner’s license, he still felt this was not enough and decided to settle in Taiwan.

His road to life in Taiwan was not always smooth however. Because of his child’s health insurance and residency issues, he and his wife considered moving back to Germany. Fortunately, with his wife’s support, Ma was able to stay in Taiwan, where the family has now put down roots.

Arguably more Taiwanese than a Taiwanese, Ma was approved for the "Naturalization of High-Level Professionals" by the Ministry of the Interior and obtained Taiwanese nationality in May this year.

For him, after having lived in Taiwan for 12 years, he was very happy to become a legitimate Taiwanese citizen. Ma says that having a Taiwanese citizen’s ID means that he can enjoy his full rights as a national and vote in next year’s Presidential and Legislative Council elections.

Zhou You-ren (周佑仁), director of the National Immigration Agency’s First Taichung City Service Center, said that voting is a democratic right of the people of Taiwan. He also appealed to all Taiwanese to value this state-granted right, to refuse bribery or be bought off in any way, in order to safeguard the fairness of elections and the core values of Taiwan's democratic system.