Taiwan, any hope for improvement for society at large?

I’ve been reading these articles from the excellent Commonwealth magazine.
It makes for pessimistic reading. There is increasing inequality, stagnating living standards and the lowest birth rate in the world. This is a SERIOUS issue for foreigners too, especially for English teachers, many of you may be out of a job in the next few years. You need to think very seriously what your next move is. I’m married to a Taiwanese lady and I despair at the workplace here. Paying up to 15% of her measly paycheck when she was working with no entitlement to social benefits. Salaries in Taiwan haven’t gone up in 10 years and are now 60% of Korea.

Education- fubared
Property prices vs income - absolute joke in Taipei (other areas less so but still paying $$$ for hovels and terrible urban conditions)
Tax System - one of the most inequitable in the world

I think a lot of this is from the failure of Taiwanese to stand up for their rights. If you don’t stand up for your rights you get taken advantage of.
Brainwashed broken population with no way out of a crippling education and work system.

http://english.cw.com.tw/article.do?action=show&id=11861 Birth rate lowest in world
http://english.cw.com.tw/article.do?action=show&id=11915&offset=3 Reasons for sky high Taipei cost of property yet terrible urban environment

The thing that makes me angry is that the average Taiwanese are so blase, it’s like they can’t be bothered to even try to improve their situation. Ma is okay but with premiers like this guy Wu, he is straight out of the 1970s, he only seems to represent business interests. Even then it is so short-sighted with no view on how to develop the local economy as a whole (ah hello, world’s lowest birth rate means rapidly disappearing consumers and tax base!). So not only is he corrupt he is actually completely incompetent! The latest thing he is trying to do is attract Taiwanese traditional industry back from China, as if that was possible or even desirable…The only way to do that would be to import slave labourers and operate in free trade zones, the only thing Taiwan would get would be imported pollution.

Is it that they don’t understand things like workers in Korea already earn 40-50% more than the average Taiwanese. That they don’t understand that property prices are so high (in Taipei especially) because the government is in total collusion with developers?

This Premier Wu is a joke.

“After the groundbreaking ceremony, the premier attended a naming ceremony for the Nanzi Export Processing Zone’s second park zone. There, he stated that the government’s top priorities are to stimulate employment and promote energy conservation and carbon reduction. Saving energy and cutting carbon start with little things like switching off lights and reducing water use, he said, but on a larger scale call for developing new and renewable energy sources, upgrading generators and replacing antiquated equipment”

These include NT$400.4 billion by Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Technology Co. Ltd., as well as NT$284 billion in the fifth stage expansion of Formosa Plastic Group’s sixth naphtha cracker plant, and nearly NT$130 billion by steel manufacturers, the largest investments for 2010 by local firms in the traditional industries.

Originally slated for Yunlin County, next to the infamous Formosa Plastics Offshore Island facility, a more welcoming Chinese KMT local government in Changhua County will host this project that will see Taiwan’s CO2 emissions increase by six to eight percent and at the same time spell the death sentence for a population of critically endangered pink dolphins (Indo Pacific humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis).

Not only are they not yet sufficiently Western, but despite all the efforts of SKII the majority of the population is still insufficiently white. At least they’re over-urbanizing and cutting population growth to zero, both sure signs of progress in the Western model of success.

What’s your point?

NWO theories coupled with mocking anti-racism. He’s both saying ‘let it go’ and ‘the rest of the world sucks too’.


Those Commonwealth articles are sobering, especially the parts dealing with the tax system (including real estate), which is worse than I’d thought. (And I’m a pessimist.) Thanks for posting those, HH2.

It’s hard to imagine the legislature ever doing much about this.

Good post, HH.
Time for a good exit plan, just to be on the safe side.

According to Commonwealth Magazine article x: Population Decline is a problem.
According to Commonwealth Magazine article y: Property Bubble is a problem.

However: x cancels y, therefore in the future no problem.

My wife, Taiwanese, and I have discussed this exact thing quite a lot.

One of my conclusions is the effect of 35+ years of martial law and cradle to grave Gov’t paternalism has had on the Taiwanese psyche. They have just come to expect the Gov’t to provide for what they need.
It has crippled their ambition. “Waa waa waa…gov’t should do this for me…gov’t should do that for me…waa waa waaa”

Just my observation; but thats my take on it.

Disastrous effect on personal responsibility and self-motivational for society as a whole.

Speaking in generalities of course.

I think these are the kind of issues that spotlight why Taiwan is in between 1st world and 3rd world status. I came here with an exit plan in 3 years so I’m not as interested in some of the other issues (like politics) that were pointed out. But I’m disappointed in the educational system. It appears that the public school system is below average to terrible and the only way for students to learn is to go the after school buxiban route. Which requires money (widening the poor/rich gap) and provides zero problem solving skills that are useful in real life.

It does seem that this year has a particularly high exodus of foreigners out of the country (among my peers). They are normally replaced, but it seems more are being replaced by very young short term US citizens looking to tide over the economic crash for 2 years - has it always been that way and just before i met different people?

The salaries thing is ridiculous as is the labour policy, yet many in my company just say, “it’s not as bad as before”… is that head in the sand or progressive? I wonder if this will turn TPE city into a rich island, with the middle classes occupying TPE county with a few choice working class disctricts splattered around in scooter distance from work?

It might become like Paris and the Parisians. Thinking they be ONE people, while the rest of France be “les autres” .

[quote=“headhonchoII”]I’ve been reading these articles from the excellent Commonwealth magazine.
It makes for pessimistic reading…lowest birth rate in the world. This is a SERIOUS issue for foreigners too, especially for English teachers, many of you may be out of a job in the next few years. [/quote]
Perhaps foreigners should take this as a cue to copulate as much as they can. :laughing:

Perhaps you should think about moving to a different country in Asia. Singapore, for example, has a central provident fund, that takes deductions and uses them towards flat purchases, health care spending, and retirement. Of course, you need to become a PR or citizen, I think, to qualify.

But, according to another CommonWealth article I read recently, in many respects Taiwan is the safer economy. Why? Structural reasons. South Korea depends on the Chaobol conglomeraes and while they’ve done really well recently (e.g. LG), when they don’t do well or outperform, the whole country really suffers. Taiwan, on the other hand, has a SME structured economy. Many SMEs could fail and they’d be other ones that would quickly replace them. This structure of economy, according to many industralists in Taiwan, represents the diversity and democracy of Taiwan. Korea has moved ahead recently, but it’s a much more class seperated, power centralized, and big business country. That has inherent risks associated with it.

I’m sure they would love to be informed of their ignorance by a foreign visitor. :laughing:

And foreigner benefit from this education system, right? I mean, if Taiwan actually had a westerized system with more stringent regulations wouldn’t a portion of the expat population actually have to look for another destination with less harsher/stringent regulations?

So we need someone to represent labour and watch Taiwan become equivalent to the Philippines? I’m sure the locals would love that.

That’s the great thing about Taiwan…lower taxes, less expectations that government will take care of you…I really like that mentality. I love to see old people and handicapped people working. In the West, they exect handouts and ride electronic scooters all day while looking for crack pipes. Working hard gives people in Taiwan a sense of self worth. Let the individual pay less tax and put their money in investments and savings. The sense of entitlement, so endemic in Western countries, would be poison to Taiwan.

This is not really my field of expertise (baseball), but I think those articles paint an overly pessimistic portrait of the future.

“Eventually, every working person in Taiwan will have to support 1.5 retired elderly people. Half of the people that you meet in the streets will be over 57.”


I doubt it.

And when they talk about the TAIEX (stock market) being so sky high, I wonder what year they are comparing it with. :popcorn:

Thanks to the few who have posted sensibly here.

Taiwan is an amazing economy. Think back over the last 40 years and what do you see?
Computer Chips
Digital Storage/Phone manufacturing

Wave after wave of hard working business men generating jobs and taxes. If only some of the Western economies would get a clue.

The average wage in Taiwan keeps catching up on Hong Kong, which is seen as far more developed, and the average cost of property whether you buy or rent is much lower. Why choose Korea as your comparison?

Quality of life in Taiwan is good, there is little hard core poverty and the education system whilst flawed provides a literacy rate that any country would be proud of.

Don’t forget as well that Taiwan deals with both the handicap, and benefit of the China situation on a daily basis, and yet another generation are making their fortunes as a result. Look at the million plus Taiwanese in Shanghai and Shenzhen making sacrifices so that they can earn money for the folks back home.

I wonder how it is that so many foreigners can spend time in Taiwan and not only not be awed by the achievements of such a small territory, but actually go on to complain and bitch about the shortcomings of a country that they feel doesn’t measure up to life back home - I suggest you leave…no really get a plane and fk off to s.korea.

Why doubt the above statistic, Taiwan HAS the lowest birth rate in the world. It’s a mathematical certainty. As it also is an absolute certainty that large numbers of schools and universities will close soon.

Without going into specifics it is easy for people working in international environment to keep money off-shore. If Taiwan had a decent property tax and instead gave tax breaks to people who invested in local industry versus almost abolishing inheritance tax, that would have been a much smarter move.
Granted the articles do seem a bit depressing but I think they highlight the growing inequality here of the last decade. It’s a really great place to operate an export business, maybe the best place in the world, but a country should be able to do more than that. It should be able to prosper without exploiting it’s lower income citizens, especially women. Women don’t want to give birth with such bad working and income conditions, when they feel they are ready it’s often too late as their fertility has dropped. It’s a crisis in society. Government policies are literally making kids disappear. Balance is required.

Another interesting point, last year most Taiwanese corporations had record profits, this was supposedly in the middle of credit crisis. They got at least some of those profits from unpaid leave policies. Again Taiwanese don’t question this, no balls really.

Not everything is doom and gloom of course but income wise and society development wise I feel things are not on a good path. Seems to repeat the same things over and over again. The speed of change is glacial. What hope is there that 10 years later society will be substantially different?

The Taiex going up or down depends mainly on foreign investment funds and the global economic situation.

Eh, Edgar Allen, take your insults elsewhere, oh I remember, you don’t actually live in Taiwan but Hong Kong, how convenient. Thankfully Chewy didn’t launch into a tirade this time , he had more sense :slight_smile:
This is not talking about economic achievements, rather SOCIETAL DEVELOPMENT. AS opposed to you Taiwan actually is myself and my family’s home!

My eldest is graduating from his PUBLIC primary school in 3 day’s time, and the younger one still in it. Having braved through 6 years of primary (grade school)education here, I would safely say it is not bad at all. My kids have reasonable leisure time, have never been to a buxiban and I don’t see their work slacking because of that. I think parents here send their kids to buxiban because 1) they are at work and can’t have the kids at home alone 2) they are too busy / not competent enough to over see their kids’ work 3)the competitive mentality—one has to out-do the peers to succeed, can’t afford to lose out at the starting point, that kind of thing.
No, I don’t think the public education here is sub-par, quite on the contrary, we’ve had very professional , responsible, caring teachers year after year.

I think primary education is fine, from what I have personally seen of Junior High and High School (I have taught in Junior High school at one time), that is a problem. Tests ,tests, tests. That said there are many bad high schools and education systems overseas too. At least here they can pick up great Chinese.

Choosing Korea as a comparison is good because Taiwan and Korea were equivalent in income only 10-15 years ago. Now Korean income and living standards are going far beyond Taiwan. This is obvious if you actually visit Korea like me. I travel around the whole North Asian region regularly and have done business with Koreans for almost 10 years. Taiwan is a great cash generator but the wealth doesn’t trickle down as much.

HH, yeah, I think you’re right; and the kids know it too.The other day, I was out with my boy and his soon-to-be-ex classmates eating at KFC and from their conversations, you could hear how they dread the forth-coming days of endless testing, they call it the ‘dark ages’, good-bye to the good life, good bye to fun , that’s what they said.
Again, I think the reason why the educatin reform failed at the secondary level is not due to incompetance, but rather, expectations from the parents.

I have conversations with my friends from Taiwan about this topic. They come from different socio-economic backgrounds. Some of them have the meibanfa/you’re not Taiwanese-you don’t understand answer, some of them have the “I want to leave Taiwan” answer, some of them are well-off, but like the quaint lifestyle in taipei, but many of them have had to goto Shanghai for a better salary in the end. But most of them have no response - they take it like it’s fate, it’s “chi ku”. What I despise most is the power of the business giants here, who seem to have prospered from the alliance with the KMT-days, martial-law legacy… becoming like chaebol but not quite. the labour market in taiwan to me is much more of a captive market than many other places I’ve been (not in the least that Taiwan only has so many cities, etc.). So the employees try to adapt, but they don’t try to change the system (e.g. they adapt by switching jobs regularly to get real “vacation” thus creating high turnovers in, say, the secretarial pool).