Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Special Report: Taiwan poised to become even greener

Like the United States, Taiwan is expending vast resources to develop its green energy sector and decrease its carbon emissions. As part of Taiwan’s stimulus plan, 10 percent of its current four-year US$15 billion public construction expansion also includes expenditure on green or environmentally friendly technologies.

Taiwan is already ahead of many countries in instigating policies to promote a green lifestyle. President Ma Ying-jeou has made it known that building a low-carbon society is one of his administration’s priorities. At the National Energy Conference held on April 15th, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan re-iterated Taiwan’s commitment towards building a “low carbon-emission homeland.”

Reduce, re-use, recycle

When visitors arrive for the World Games in Kaohsiung this July, they will experience the harbor city’s gleaming new 55,000-seat main stadium, a truly innovative green building. With more solar panels on its roof than any other building in Taiwan, it can meet 80 percent of its electric needs during events. The stadium also has other environmental “firsts” such as locally-made and fully recyclable construction materials, a rainwater harvesting system, an advanced wastewater treatment plant, sensor light-emitting diodes, an on-site trash sorting center and a building design that helps it blend in with its surrounding environment. The stadium is truly one of a kind and the envy of environmental designers.

Taiwan’s environmental policies do not only apply to a showcase building, but trickle down to how people sort garbage and heat domestic water. In Taiwan’s densely populated cities, cutting carbon dioxide emissions is even more important. As an incentive, central and local governments have offered subsidies for households to purchase solar powered water heaters. So far, 433,000 households in Taiwan have taken advantage of government subsidies, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 350,000 tons per year. By 2012, 570,000 Taiwanese families will have solar water heaters, further reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

Coupled with greener energy sources, a sound environmental plan must also include new ways to reduce and reuse waste. In Taiwan, most local governments charge a garbage collection fee attached to residents’ water bills. In Taipei, Taiwan’s capital with a population of almost three million, the fee is attached to the sale of trash bags. According to the Environmental Protection Bureau of the Taipei City Government, the volume of waste has plummeted since the implementation of the per bag trash collection fee policy in 2000.

In conjunction with sound waste management policies, Taiwan has instigated stringent rules regarding its recycling program, requiring residents to sort their garbage into three categories – ordinary garbage, recyclables and food scraps. Since 2005, garbage that is not properly separated is rejected, and violators are fined between US$36 to US$180. Random checks of garbage bags take place to ensure that everyone abides by the rules.

Renewable energy gets the go-ahead

Over the next five years, Taiwan’s government will start an ambitious project to transform the island into a low carbon emission society by investing US$1.33 billion in the development of green energy industries, especially in solar energy and light emitting diode (LED) technology. The goal is to turn Taiwan into the world’s largest supplier of LED modules, solar cells and panels, and a major producer of electric vehicles in the Asian Pacific region.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA), US$753 million will be allocated to the development of renewable energy and towards subsidizing the installation of energy-saving devices. Another US$629 million will be used for research and development of green energy technologies, which the government hopes will stimulate a further US$6 billion in private investment over the next five years.The project will cover industries focusing on solar energy, LED lights, wind power, biomass fuel, hydrogen power, fuel cells, electric vehicles, and energy information and communication technology. “By 2015, the green energy sector is expected to create 110,000 jobs in Taiwan each year,” said Yiin Chii-ming, the Minister of Economic.

Taiwan’s new project is expected to transform green energy industries into a new industrial sector with an annual output value of over US$19.59 billion. The government’s aim is to replicate the semiconductor manufacturing boom of the 1980s and the optoelectronic success of the 1990s.

While considering carbon dioxide reduction, Taiwan must consider balancing environmental protection with economic development. There are many different methods of generating renewable energy using the wind and ocean wave power. Ideas include erecting wind turbines in the ocean, using the ocean’s thermal energy, ocean wave energy and ocean current energy. In as much as all these ideas have potential, they are also cutting-edge areas that need to be studied further to determine their viability.

Nuclear free not an option - yet

On the development of nuclear energy, Premier Liu stressed that with three nuclear power plants in operation and a fourth under construction, the controversial form of energy is a ‘transitional option’ in the process of Taiwan’s metamorphosis into a low-carbon society. He made the comments in response to protests by environmentalists and anti-nuclear power activists over the government’s energy policy.

Former president of Academia Sinica, Yuan T. Lee, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986, and delivered a keynote speech at the National Energy Conference, said he did support a nuclear free homeland before, but he agrees now that based on Taiwan’s current situation, nuclear free is impossible to achieve in the first half of this century.

Traditional approach - plant at tree

Also speaking at the National Energy Conference, President Ma included some low-tech solutions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through a massive tree-planting plan. He proposed increasing the tree planting areas to six million acres in eight years through the designation of various green parks in Taiwan.

Taiwan’s progress towards developing green energy sources and a more sustainable country is an active process. Changes can include merely converting all the island’s traffic lights (around 700,000) to energy-saving LED by 2011 or tackling innovative energy frontiers. For now, by following the government’s course of action, carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by 36.5 percent by 2020 and 59.6 percent by 2025.

River Cats to host Taiwanese Night on May 15th

The Sacramento River Cats, a minor league baseball team, will host a Taiwanese Night with River Cats infielder Yung-Chi Chen and Albuquerque Isotopes infielder Chin-Lun Hu on Thursday night, May 15th. The pre-game meet-and-greet will take place at the Raley Field Foul Ball Patio from 6:15 to 6:45 pm. As part of Taiwanese Night, Manfred Peng, the director of press division of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco, will throw the honorary first pitch at 7pm. The tourism division of TECO will provide up to 100 guests at the meeting with Taiwanese souvenirs to promote the island’s sights.

For more information about Thursday’s game between the Sacramento River Cats and the Albuquerque Isotopes, please visit:

Taiwan’s chief representative speaks at Stanford

After eight years of surprises, Taiwan’s top diplomat said on May 4th that his first priority is to restore mutual trust with Washington, DC. Speaking with Dr. Larry Diamond, the director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University, Taiwan’s chief US representative, Jason Yuan, addressed some 50 scholars, students and political observers during his Bay Area stop.

After taking office last May, President Ma Ying-jeou worked to restore mutual trust with the US. Instead of a big splash, he kept a low profile when he made his US transit stops on his way to and from Latin American last August. In cross-strait matters, Ma has strived for rapprochement with China by resuming high-level talks between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). As a result, Yuan said, Taiwan has been invited to take part in the forthcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. After trying to gain participation since 1997, Taiwan will finally be included.

In response to questions about the possibility of signing a 60-year peace treaty with China and how the island’s 23 million Taiwanese would react, Yuan said if there were to be a treaty, the first condition would be that China should remove the missiles along the Taiwan Strait - now estimated to number more than 1000. Ma doesn’t expect to see the day of unification, the peace treaty will not necessarily lead to unification or independence. The future would be decided by all of Taiwan’s people, not by any single political leader, stressed Yuan.

This is one of the latest events by the Program on Democracy in Taiwan, which is sponsored by the CDDRL, in conjunction with the Hoover Institution. Initiated in the fall of 2005, the program studies the political and social changes, and international challenges confronting democracy in Taiwan, including cross-strait relations.

Chiang Hsiu-chiung’s debut film Artemisia wins SFIFF’s Golden Gate Award

On May 6th, Taiwan's film director Chiang Hsiu-chiung was honored by the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) with a Golden Gate Award in the Television Narrative Feature category for her debut film Artemisia. Upon receiving the award, Chiang thanked the festival organizers for the award, the Public Television Service in Taiwan for giving her the opportunity to direct, and the Press Division of TECO for its support.

Chiang is no stranger to SFIFF. As a graduate student in theater and screenwriting at the Taipei National University of the Arts, Chiang Hsiu-chiung delivered a Golden Horse-nominated performance in Edward Yang’s epic A Brighter Summer Day (SFIFF 1992). At the 52nd festival, audiences were able to enjoy Chiang’s talent again, this time from behind the scenes, as the director of Artemisia.

Chiang’s well-script narrative is about three generations of resilient women, focusing on 58-year old Ai-tsao (Artemisia in Chinese). As a young woman, Ai-tsao defied her conservative family to marry a man some 20 years older than her. Twenty years later, she finds herself struggling to accept her argumentative mother, her unmarried daughter’s mixed-race baby and her closeted gay son. Amid all the turmoil, she works towards accepting and preserving her family.

Panel Discussion on May 28th: A New Era for Taiwan-PRC Relations

Please join a symposium hosted by Asia Society, along with the University of California-Berkeley's Institute of East Asian Studies, the University of San Francisco's Center for the Pacific Rim, and the World Affairs Council of Northern California, for an in-depth look into Taiwan’s new era.

After Ma Ying-jeau took office as the president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 2008, he shifted away from the confrontational policies towards China of the previous administration. Since then, he has introduced a number of important rapprochement measures, including resumption of cross-strait talks, establishing direct flights and sea transportation, and announcing a “diplomatic truce” with China.

With these changes, tensions between Taiwan and the PRC are now at their lowest level in many years. The panel of distinguished guests will discuss Ma’s new approach and proposals in the face of the extreme global downturn to sign a free-trade agreement with China, which would further remove trade and investment barriers on both sides.

Still, the new policies have not decreased the 1000-plus missiles targeting the island. By treating China as both a threat and an opportunity, Ma is walking a tightrope in developing new relations with Beijing, yet mindful of the criticism and opposition at home.


Chien-Min Chao, Deputy Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan

Chong-pin Lin, Professor, Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, Tamkang University, Taiwan; former Deputy Minister of Defense, Taiwan

Lowell Dittmer, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of California at Berkeley

Robert Kapp (moderator), President of Robert A. Kapp & Associate, Inc.; former President, US-China Business Council

Time, Place & Cost:
Thursday, May 28, 2009
5:30 pm for Registration & Reception
6:00 – 7:30 pm for Program

K&L Gates LLP
4 Embarcadero, Suite. 1200
San Francisco, CA 94111

Admission: $10 for Asia Society/Co-sponsor members
$15 for Non-members$8 for Students/Seniors

To register, please call (415) 421-8706 or visit:

Envisioning Taiwan with Films and Photos at SF Public Library

The San Francisco Public Library, in conjunction with TECO, invites you to explore the social and technological evolution of contemporary Taiwan. The program opens with a photo exhibition by Tsai Wen-hsyang and Ga Photo Group from Taiwan. The collection captures the integration of technology in every aspect of island life, transforming the once agrarian society into a truly digital nation. The exhibition will be open for viewing in the Chinese Center on the 3rd floor of the Main Library from May 22nd to June 25th.

The Main Library will also host a series of Taiwanese movies, both documentaries and feature films in its Lower Level Koret Auditorium on May 23rd and May 30th.

The first documentary film Taiwan Festivals will screen at 2 pm. It will be followed by a feature film Secrets, at 2:40 pm. Secrets, a love story, stars well-known musician Jay Chou. He also co-wrote and directed the movie. The film won many awards in 2007 at the Golden Horse Awards in Taipei.

On May 30th, the film series will continue with For More Sun at 2 pm. The documentary film follows a group of young Taiwanese engineers in their quest to build the fastest solar vehicle for the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The last feature film, Chocolate Rap, will screen at 3:50 pm. It is a light-hearted movie about Choco, a passionate break-dancer who faces off with his conventional-minded dad.

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
1:00 pm Reception
1:40 pm Lecture-Brief Introduction of Taiwan Film Industry by Manfred Peng, Director of Press Division (TECO)
2:00 pm Taiwan Festivals (28 min) – Documentary
2:40 pm Secrets (102 min) – Feature

Saturday, May 30th, 2009
2:00 pm For More Sun (96 min) – Documentary
3:50 pm Chocolate Rap (83 min) – Feature

Exhibition: From May 22 to June 25, 2009
Main Library, Third Floor, Chinese Center

Film Series
Koret Auditorium, Lower Level, Main Library

The Envisioning Taiwan film series is free of charge, but seating is limited. To request free tickets for the film programs please call (415) 557- 4495

Taiwan gains observer status in WHA

Taiwan has finally been invited to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer. On April 29th, Taiwan’s Department of Health (DOH) received an invitation from WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to attend the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA) from May 18th-27th. In response, DOH chief Yeh Ching-chuan will lead a 15-person delegation to Geneva, Switzerland on May 17th. This will be the first time Taiwan will participate in the WHA since losing its UN membership to China in 1971.

Since 1997, Taiwan has worked hard to rally support for representation at the WHO. After 13 failed attempts, President Ma Ying-jeou attributed the victory to the joint efforts of the public and the political parties at home, and the support of the international community and the goodwill of the “mainland authorities.” In particular, Ma thanked the United States, Japan, the European Union, Southeast Asian nations, Australia and New Zealand for their help in securing participation for Taiwan.

The US State Department spokesman Robert Wood welcomed the news. “We have long supported Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO, including observer status at the WHA. “ In speaking to reporter in Washington, he continued by saying, “We look forward to the participation of Taiwan at the WHA and the benefits Taiwan’s public health expertise will bring to the international community.”

On the opposite Coast, The Seattle Times headlined its May 4th editorial with “Welcome Taiwan into the World Health Assembly” and concluded by stating, “Fighting epidemics cannot be put off. It has to be done with immediacy, and the jurisdictions have to cooperate. That China and Taiwan now do so is a big step forward.” The complete editorial can be found at

As an observer in the WHA, Taiwan now will be able to maintain direct contact with the WHO to exchange information on disease control, prevention, and other health issues for the benefit of the 23 million people on the island. Early last month, Taiwan was included in the WHO’s International Health Regulation (IHR) which tracks and controls infectious diseases around the globe.

In addition to the IHR, Yang Che-ming, the director-general of the Bureau of International Cooperation under the DOH, also mentioned four other information sharing mechanisms. They include the WHO’s Food Safety Network (INFOSAN), Global Outbreak Alert Response Networks (GOARN), the Stop TB Partnership, The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the International Collaboration and Prevention Combating Counterfeit Drugs (IMPACT).

It is still too early to speculate how quickly and deeply Taiwan will be involved in WHO activities since the degree of each observer’s participation varies. “How Taiwan should take part in the WHA as an observer and to what degree will require further discussion,” Yang said. Taiwan will join six other WHA observers who can speak at the assembly, but cannot vote. They include the Holy See, the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement.

Although Taiwan’s new observer status was met with an overwhelmingly positive response on the island, Taiwan’s opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), feared that more of Taiwan’s sovereignty was traded to gain the invitation.

The DPP is concerned that the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) consulted with China for permission, per the 2005 secret memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the WHO and China, requiring all contact with Taiwan to take place through Beijing first. DPP legislator William Lai called on the government to be more forthcoming about the secret negotiations for Taiwan’s participation.

In reassuring the DPP, Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia has said that “no secret deals” were made between Taiwan and China, and that Taiwan’s observer status came “without conditions.” Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA this month will mean Taiwanese reporters will again be granted press passes to cover the activities of the WHA. Since 2002, Taiwanese reporters have been prevented from attending sessions of the WHO or WHA.

Third round of cross-strait talks achieve success

On April 26, Taiwan signed three pacts and one joint statement with China in the third round of cross-strait negotiations after President Ma ying-jeou took office last May. Meeting in Nanjing, Chiang Pin-kung represented Taiwan as the chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Chen Yunlin represented China as the president of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). This time, the two sides forged ties to combat criminal activities, set guidelines for financial cooperation and increase direct links.

Among the three pacts was one aimed at increasing the weekly direct flights between the two sides from 108 to 270. China agreed to add six more destinations to the 21 cities it currently serves. Cargo flights will also increase from 30 per month to 112. In order to accommodate the increased number of flights, the two sides agreed to set up a new southern route between Taipei and Guangzhou, and a new northern route between Taipei and Shanghai.

In the second pact, both sides agreed to work together to maintain financial stability. They agreed to cooperate on the supervision of financial and monetary management and to begin negotiations on giving access to their respective markets by banks, stock brokers and insurance companies on each side. Analysts believe this agreement will pave the way for a memorandum of understanding on financial regulatory cooperation between Taiwan and China, which will lead to the opening of their markets to each other's financial institutions.

The third pact outlined cooperative efforts to combat crime, with both sides agreeing to help serve judicial documents, collect evidence, and confirm each other's civil judgments and arbitration awards. Most significantly, the two sides agreed to repatriate criminals and suspected criminals. The pact was hailed as a milestone because China has long been a haven for Taiwanese criminals in the absence of a repatriation agreement.

In the joint statement, Taiwan welcomed Chinese investment and promised to formulate regulations to facilitate this process. On its part, China agreed to support private investment in Taiwan, and to encourage Chinese enterprises to explore investment opportunities in Taiwan.

The next round of talks will be held in Taiwan before the end of the year and will include discussions on fisheries cooperation, quarantine and inspection of agricultural products, cooperation on standard operating procedures and certification, and prevention of double taxation.

When polled by the Taipei-based China Times, 44 percent of the 763 interviewees were satisfied with the results of the talks, while 22 percent were not. As for the opening of Taiwan’s market to mainland Chinese investment, 53 percent supported it, seeing it as a plus for Taiwan’s economy and 22 percent opposed it, not wanting more dependency on the mainland.

A China Times editorial, urged the government to be cautious and to take gradual steps, so it can minimize risks and protect Taiwan’s national security. It said the agreements are reached due to the fact that both sides adopted an attitude of ‘economy first, politics later’. Future talks will be much tougher when both sides have to touch on political issues.

Ma proposed “new geographic thinking” via video conference

In a video-conference at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on April 22nd, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou urged the US to maintain the sale of defensive arms to the island in accordance to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). He spoke during the center’s program “The Taiwan Relations Act: Turning a New Chapter” celebrating the TRA’s 30th anniversary. American scholars and political observers, including Richard Armitage, former US Deputy Secretary of the State, attended the event.

The TRA was passed by the US congress in 1979 to protect American interests in Taiwan after Washington established full diplomatic ties with Beijing. According to the Act, the sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan has been a stabilizing force in the Taiwan Strait. It has provided Taiwan with the security to build a stable democracy and a prosperous economy.

For the first time Ma proposed “a new geographic thinking” for Taiwan. He said, “Since the outset of my administration, my focus has been more on Taiwan’s geography rather than on its history.” He noted, Taiwan is located at the center of a “dense and rich network of economic powerhouses,” with the US, the world’s largest economy and sole superpower to the east, and the second, third and fifth largest economies, Japan, mainland China, and the ASEAN nations to the north, west and south respectively. Ma stressed the need for Taiwan to take full advantage of its geographic good fortune to link up with all the members of this “super economic network” for a “multifaceted win-win situation.”

To make the most of Taiwan’s geographical advantage, Ma has improved relations with China, inaugurating cross-strait direct flights, welcoming mainland Chinese tourists, and resuming high-level talks between Taipei’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).

At the heart of his idea is the prospective creation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taipei and Beijing. With the ECFA, Ma believes Taiwan can bolster and safeguard its competitive edge in the mainland market, and in turn, in the greater global market.

He rebutted the accusation that the proposed signing of the ECFA with Beijing would be equivalent to unification with China. “Taiwan is a democratic country. No one can betray Taiwan. In the six agreements signed between SEF and ARATS (since Ma took office), none hurts the sovereignty of Taiwan,” he said.

Since Ma’s inauguration in May 2008, Ma has taken steps to reconcile with Beijing by declaring a “diplomatic truce” and focusing on issues that have yielded real and substantial rewards. In particular, his push for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) has met with success, with China now willing to allow Taiwan observer status.

With this understanding approach to China, Ma expects to restore mutual trust and cooperation with other countries, especially the US. The future prospects of Taiwan-US relations will focus on issues of low politics with an emphasis on pragmatism.

US economist Krugman’s message is resonating in Taiwan

In an attempt to stem Taiwan’s economic meltdown the government has implemented many of the economic theories of US economist and 2008 Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman. In fact, this month, Vice Premier Chiu Cheng-hsiung will preside over a symposium at which Krugman will give the keynote address.

Scheduled to visit Taiwan on May 14th and 15th, Krugman will speak at the Taipei International Convention Center to an audience of academics, government and industry leaders. Invited by Taiwan Financial Holdings and other daily newspapers, the visit will provide Krugman with an opportunity to understand what Taiwan has done to tackle the current financial crisis.

Chiu said Krugman would find his economic theories implemented in Taiwan, including recovery of banks’ lending ability and an increase of public spending. To deal with the current financial crisis, the Taiwan government has relied on the trickle down effect of three policies – support for banks, support for businesses, and support for workers. The government fully guarantees the security of savings deposits, thus stabilizing the banks’ US$814 billion worth of deposits. While the US has spent over US$800 billion to bailout the American banking system, Taiwan has not wasted a cent.

Taiwan’s stimulus plan and its programs are all meant to revitalize domestic consumption and increase spending. This year’s increase in public spending will not only stimulate the island’s economy, but also improve infrastructure. Pointing out that the global economic crisis was created by a combination of negative factors coming to a head simultaneously, Chiu predicted that the worst of Taiwan’s economic recession is now over.

Multi-billion dollar healthcare package agreed

On April 30th, Taiwan’s cabinet approved a four-year value-added healthcare package totaling US$2.6 billion to upgrade Taiwan’s healthcare industry. This boost is expected to increase the healthcare industry’s value to US$10.4 billion in 2012 and create 310,000 new job opportunities.

Health Minister Yeh Jing-chuan said the package is comprised of six major categories: medical treatment, long-term care, health care, intelligent medical services, international medical services, and national health security.

The centerpiece of this package is intelligent medical services that will completely digitize all medical reports, medical images and patient histories within five years. The package will also set up medical imaging exchange centers and promote a second generation of health ID cards. The current total market value of monitoring medical devices, radio frequency identification (RFID) and medical information stands at around US$623 million, which will be increased to US$3.8 billion in 2012.

Intelligent medical services will have a strong profit potential when set up to provide a medical platform based on information technology which is Taiwan’s forte. The international medical service sector includes hip and other joint replacement operations, dental implants, liver and bone marrow transplants, and medical tourism with physical examinations.

According to a medical business leader interviewed by The United Daily News, many Asian countries are also promoting medical tourism. Therefore, Taiwan should focus on the overseas Chinese markets in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Macau, and the Chinese mainland since it shares a similar language and culture.

The transplant surgery cost in Taiwan is comparatively low. When comparing an artificial hip or joint replacement. The surgery cost in the US is US$50,000 and only US$ 8,000 in Taiwan.

The Liberty Times reported that the government plans to simplify the entry visa application process for foreigners to enter Taiwan for medical treatment and physical examinations, and also set up a routine allowing mainland Chinese to visit Taiwan for the same purpose.

Kaohsiung’s shipping volume jumps with direct links

The Port of Kaohsiung has seen a substantial increase in activity since direct shipping links between Taiwan and mainland China were established. The volume of cross-Taiwan Strait containers has more than quadrupled (4.6 times) since the opening of direct links last December 15th.

According to statistics released by the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau, the number of ships engaged in cross-strait trade docking at Kaohsiung more than tripled, increasing from 28 in December 2008 to 118 this March. The volume of cross-strait containers handled by the port for the same period soared from 16,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in December to 74,000 TEUs.

Taiwan’s exports to China are mainly of machinery and capital-intensive goods, while imports from China are mostly raw commodities and textiles, according to Kaoshiung’s harbormaster Tsai Ting-yi.

Tsai said that direct cross-strait shipping has helped businesses cut transportation costs by 15 to 30 percent. While direct routes were banned, ships had to take detours through waters near Japan or Hong Kong.

The port reached its handling capacity with a record trade volume of 10.2 million TEUs in 2007. Hit hard by the current global financial crisis and domestic recession, Kaohsiung Port’s handling volume dropped to 9.67 million TEUs in 2008.

With five terminals and 23 berths, the Port of Kaohsiung is Taiwan's largest container port and the 12th largest in the world in 2008. Among the top ten ports in the world, six are located in China.

Taiwan government helps to break gender stereotypes

More Taiwanese women are choosing not to marry and those that do are often getting married later in life according to a recent Central News Agency (CNA) article quoting statistics from the Ministry of Interior (MOI). The government report revealed that 29.6 percent of Taiwanese women ages 30-39 were single in 2007, but by 2008, the figure had jumped to 32.3 percent. A great deal of this change can be attributed to the gender equality policies of the government, which has worked to level the playing field for the sexes since the 1990s.

In particular, two landmark laws provided increasing protection for women. They are the Sexual Assault Prevention Act and the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, which came into effect in 1997 and 1998 respectively. “In terms of the legal framework, Taiwan is on par with the United States, with its passage of many advanced laws to give women’s rights a legal foundation,” said Minister Wang Ju-hsuan of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA). Other laws and programs have followed that have promoted gender equality.

Among them is the Employment Act (2002), which eliminated gender discrimination in the work place and provided paid leave and job protection during maternity leave. In 2007, Taiwan adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a United Nation’s act recognized as the international bill of rights for women.

Furthermore, Taiwanese women are bucking the old fashion belief that a successful woman must be married. As Taiwanese women achieve greater equality at home and in the work place, fewer are getting married. In the past, single women over the age of 30 were often considered unsuccessful if they were not married. However, society is challenging this stereotype and it is being reflected on television.

In “My Queen,” a popular television series about an assertive and successful career woman, gender stereotypes are tackled. The series focuses on Shan Wu-shung, a 30-something single journalist who is very good at her job. However, despite her success, she is considered a “loser” by her mother due to her single status. The series resonates with tens of thousand of female viewers who battle with certain societal expectation of women.

No longer are women content to be stigmatized by society as a “loser” or makeinu. The popular term makeinu means “loser dog” in Japanese is based on the bestselling book Makeinu no toboe (The Howl of the Loser Dog) by Sakai Junko about over-30 singles in Tokyo. Although seen as a loser by that culture, it was far from how Sakai saw herself. Taiwanese women are also re-defining this former derogatory term and assuming the name makeinu with pride.

In addition to passing laws, Taiwan has also allocated money towards promoting and studying gender equality. In March 2008, the MOI helped open and fund the Taiwan Women’s Center. The center is run by the Foundation for Women’s Rights Promotion and Development (FWRPD). It links 110 island-wide women’s centers, 700-odd women’s organizations and about 1,000 Taiwanese female entrepreneurs. The center not only links and empowers Taiwanese women, but also serves as a visible force in the international community and a guide to the governmental policymaking process.

Another way Taiwan is promoting gender equality is by bestowing awards on Taiwanese businesses that have built a workplace free of gender discrimination. According to the Taiwan Review, the CLA awarded 69 Taiwanese enterprises for their efforts in instituting flexible work hours and time off, maternity and childcare subsidies, and equal promotion opportunities.

Taiwan universities to admit mainland students

Pending legislative approval this month, Taiwan could open its graduate schools to mainland Chinese students as early as next spring, with undergraduates likely to follow in the fall of 2010.

President Ma Ying-jeou spoke of the proposal to allow Chinese students to study in Taiwan while speaking (via video conference) to a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC on April 22nd.

Ma said there are indeed different opinions as to how to open up Taiwan’s universities to mainland students, including discussions of which departments would be opened and the number of admission allowed. Therefore, according to Ma, there would be more restrictive measures to begin with, but gradually he hopes to achieve the following three goals:

1) To engender understanding of each other by the students on both sides of the Taiwan Strait at an earlier age.
2) To aid the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and attract talented young mainlanders to Taiwan, furthering the competitive edge of Taiwanese students.
3) To increase opportunities for mainland students and Taiwanese universities. There are about 130 colleges and universities in Taiwan with an admission rate approaching 90 percent. However in the mainland, many students cannot pursue advance studies due to the limited availability of college places. It is hoped, that these qualified students can take advantage of the abundant teaching resources at private colleges in Taiwan.

The Taipei Times reported that Taiwan’s Ministry of Education is currently working on the policies governing Chinese students attending Taiwanese colleges. So far, the Education Minister Chen Jei-cheng has promised to cap the number of Chinese student to less than one percent of total university vacancies and to offer no scholarships.

According to the Taipei-based China Post, Democratic Progress Party legislators are determined to oppose the amendments authorizing Chinese students to study in Taiwan. They fear many Chinese students would try to enroll using fake grades or diplomas. Currently, Taiwan does not accredit qualifications from mainland high schools, colleges and universities.

English villages to improve English proficiency

Over the next three years, Taiwan’s government will spend US$18 million to improve English language proficiency on the island. The plan set out by the cabinet hopes to concentrate on six areas: improving bilingual road signs, providing an international living environment, strengthening local services for expatriates, boosting the English language environment for study and work, upgrading international competitiveness in major cities, and hosting more international exhibitions. Along with strengthening the six areas, the plan will also set up English villages where students can immerse themselves in an all-English environment.

The Taiwan News reported that the English villages would not be like a theme park in South Korea nor like real villages, but places where students unable to afford private tutoring or to study abroad can go to learn. It is expected that the English village project will enroll 3000 students, or 1000 per year, that will have the opportunity to obtain certificates demonstrating their English proficiency.

The Taipei Times also reported that private groups would be able to apply for permission to construct an English village in line with existing statutes encouraging private investors to fund public infrastructure projects.

Due to the large number of English speaking employees at the Hsinchu Science-based Park, the park will be the first choice for such an English village, with a second location to be decided later. Companies willing to participate can register with the village authorities and receive stars for the quality of their English service like star-rated hotels.
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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.