Interview » with the representative of the Taipei Representative Office in Germany Dr Wu-lien Wei

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“Taiwan’s location is a great strategic platform for trade with China”

An interview with the representative of the Taipei Representative Office in Germany Dr. Wu-lien Wei

The

reelection of President Ma Yingjeous on the 14th of January 2012 reflects the Taiwanese’s vote for the continuation of the economic approach to China. What are the next steps?

The follow-up talks in the context of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China are being continued. The focus of the talks will be the trade of goods and services, as well as the mediation of disputes in trade disagreements. Furthermore, Taiwan exterior trade organization, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA ), wants to open six offices in this year to expand its presence in China for the sake of promoting bilateral trade.

Taiwan is focusing on future-oriented hightech fields and is one of the market leaders in the creation of notebooks and motherboards. How is this field being developed further?

Taiwanese companies produce mostly as contract manufacturers and developers for almost all large international providers in the information and communication fields. These markets are liable to quick changes, which is why Taiwanese manufacturers react to new challenges with new products. Renowned companies such as Acer and Asus wish to create new standards with their Ultrabooks. Ultrabooks are very thin and powerful devices which combine the functions of both notebooks and tablet PCs. There is also an increased investment in research and development as well as the marketing of domestic brands. With these methods, the dependency from contract business is reduced and the marginal benefits are increased.

What makes Taiwan interesting for investors?

Taiwan’s location is a great strategic platform for trade with China. Taiwan possesses well-developed industrial clusters, a modern infrastructure, a high percentage of educated and skilled personnel, legal security in copyright and patent protection, as well as transparent tax and customs laws. Taiwan’s abundant investment capital is also attractive for investors.

According to the latest Profit Opportunity Recommendation (POR) report conducted by the American Business Environment Risk Intelligence S.A. (BERI), Taiwan has reached the 3rd ranking worldwide for investments. At the same time, more and more families are beginning to live below the poverty level. How is this process going to be stopped?

The Taiwanese government has taken measures against the existing unemployment. Socially disadvantaged and socially weak families receive financial support in Taiwan. In order to give people new opportunities in the job market, the government is supporting diversified professional qualification measurements. The government has also introduced a luxury tax and is planning a wealth tax, with the goal of closing the gap between the rich and poor.

Since the mid 1990’s, Taiwan has been promoting a modern environmental policy with renewable energies. Even though thousands of earthquakes and typhoons are registered yearly, the country operates three atomic energy facilities. A fourth one is currently under construction. Is a phasing out of nuclear energy plausible in the long term?

As an island, Taiwan is not connected to its neighbors and cannot receive any energy from them. However, the country needs a reliable, stable, and self-sufficient power supply. This is why Taiwan has primarily relied on atomic energy. The maintenance of the facilities is conducted according to very strict security measurements. The running term of these facilities are observed, and there will be no extension of the terms. This will hopefully create a gradual decrease in the use of atomic energy. In order to lower the dependency on atomic energy, renewable energies for power uses are being expanded and developed.

What is Taiwan’s focus in terms of education? What programs does the country offer?

Taiwan has conducted many educational reforms in the past years and keeps the learning facilities in touch with the newest technologies. The four main goals of the Taiwanese educational ministry’s plan have been named in the recently published Centennial Education Report: international competence, innovation, justice, and sustainability.

Therefore the internationalization of the educational system is very important. Programs such as the Project for the Promotion of High School Internationalization and the Development Plan for Worldwide Leading Universities and Competence Centers in Research allow Taiwanese universities to employ academics from all over the world. They promote the exchange of students and scientists, as well as the international cooperation between higher education facilities and organizations. There are government scholarships and state-sponsored special courses. Many higher education facilities offer, in conjunction with international partner-universities, majors and courses with integrated study-abroad periods, as well as the possibility of double-majors.

Traditionally there is also a lot of emphasis put on languages. Many students take advantage of the great opportunities offered to them and take a language course in Taiwan.

What makes Taiwan attractive to tourists?

Taiwan is a melting pot of many cultural elements. It has made it its goal to conserve the old and be modern at the same time. The country, with its three climate zones, offers a diverse nature, sublime mountain regions, and wonderful beaches. Taiwan is a paradise for mountain climbers, water-sports enthusiasts, and bicyclists alike.

But the city life also has lots to offer. In the vibrating metropolises you can experience countless cultural highlights. The food is amazing and one meets friendly and open people. If you travel to Taiwan, you experience a wide berth of that which makes a vacation so unforgettable.

Taiwan is strongly engaged in development aid and hopes to achieve international recognition in this field. What is the nature of Taiwan’s contributions?

After Taiwan was dependent on generous international aid following World War II, it slowly started switching its role through economic success and became a donor state. As an industrialized state, it now possesses the fourth-largest foreign exchange reserves and has considerably expanded its foreign aid. It now encompasses a large spectrum of well financed and organized programs which have been created through state and private organizations and have a range of 100 million US$ a year.

In 1996, the International Cooperation and Development Fund Taiwan (TaiwanCDF) was created as the highest body for statefinanced foreign aid programs in Taiwan. It now entails about 33 technical missions internationally, most of them in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Oceania, and are engaged there on a long-term basis in areas of agriculture, fishery, irrigation, traffic, and information technology. During disaster relief missions, such as in Haiti or Fukushima, Taiwan’s helpers are active, and there is a great willingness within the Taiwanese population to donate for charitable purposes.

In 1996, the International Cooperation and Development Fund Taiwan (TaiwanCDF) was created as the highest body for statefinanced foreign aid programs in Taiwan. It now entails about 33 technical missions internationally, most of them in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Oceania, and are engaged there on a long-term basis in areas of agriculture, fishery, irrigation, traffic, and information technology. During disaster relief missions, such as in Haiti or Fukushima, Taiwan’s helpers are active, and there is a great willingness within the Taiwanese population to donate for charitable purposes.

With its well-structured development aid, Taiwan is offering a great contribution of the global community. It would only be fair that Taiwan’s great share of international humanitarian assistance would be accordingly recognized and positively valued by the international community.

photos Mohamed El-Sauaf / Hao Chen-tai | text Beate Baldow

Pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 = unknown