[quote=“mod lang”]There’s less obvious poverty than there is in North America - that’s one way in which Taiwan is more advanced than certain places in the West. There are homeless people and beggars here, but compared to almost any major city in the West, they’re few and far between. The Taiwanese act like it’s the Great Depression because the unemployment rate for the past couple of years has been an astonishing 5%. Boo fucking hoo! In the U.S.A. that’s the normal rate when times are good. In most of Europe that’s half the normal rate. But Taiwan’s coming down from a period when there was practically no unemployment…I guess they’re going to have to get used to it, cause those days when everyone had a job aren’t coming back again.
The pollution is much worse than in most other developed countries, but it has substantially improved over the past few years, even in Kaohsiung (Gaoxiong), and will continue to improve as the shift from the heavy-industry factory economy to the service/information economy takes hold. Taiwan is in a transition state from the second to first world.[/quote]
Like Mod Lang said, Taiwan is in a transition phase. Not a thirdworld nation, but not quite a developed nation. Things are constantly improving. (Taipei today is a cleaner place to live than in the 80s is just one example)
Even by the year 1980, Taiwan’s average GDP was still only a poultry 1,400 USD a year, while the US and Japan and most of Western Europe were well over 15,000. The amazing economic miracle that people talks about is the fact that Taiwan managed to increase that 1,400 GDP in 1980 to around 8,000 by the year 1990 without natural resources like petroleum. Rapid industrialization is the reason of the pollution, although like Mod lang mentioned above, its getting better.
The various thirdworld activities you see in Taiwan are a reminder that this was a poor country just two decades ago. Taiwan is not US of A or Japan or Western Europe in the fact that those places were industrialized over a hundred years ago. Illiteracy was also rampant on this island only a few decades ago.
Taiwan is also trying to develop things that are taken for granted in the West. Plans for MRT for all major cities on the west coast with a supporting train system is in the works. Kaohsiung’s system will be up and running in 3 years. The second major north-south expressway has opened. New baseball stadiums will be (or under construction) constructed in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taizhong, Yunlin, Kaohsiung City. Sewage systems will be more widely implemented.