Before we get started, our generous patron Formosan Business Support has significantly increased their monthly donation, so I’d like to share a message from them:
“Our monthly Potluck supporter Formosan Business Support based in Taichung and Kaohsiung supporting Taiwan’s energy transition into a green self-sustainable industrial island – Find out more at formosanbs.com.”
Japan Waves the Flag
Japan’s representative office in Taiwan, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association raised the national flag of Japan at its Taipei office on the 17th for the first time in its 50-year history.
This followed on the heels of U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reaffirmed their commitment in upholding peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait–in very tepid language–during their first in-person summit in Washington.
That summit will be looked into more closely in an upcoming Taiwan Report News Brief or Briefs, that will be examining US-Taiwan relations and US moves to work with Japan and Australia on Taiwan’s defence.
The timing for raising the flag in Taipei is interesting, coming so close on the heels of the summit, at which the Japanese side appears to have tried to play down cooperation with the US on Taiwan to a minimum.
TSMC and Hon Hai Vie for World Dominance
Following up on a recent show that went in-depth on TSMC and Hon Hai’s relevance to Taiwan’s national security, both have deepened the moves described in that show.
TSMC, which has a near-lock on high-end chips, has raised this year’s capital expenditure to a record US$30 billion–up from the US$25 to US$28 billion planned for in January.
About 80 percent of the capital budget is to be spent on the buildup of advanced technologies–including 3, 5 and 7-nanometer technologies–while about 10 percent would be for less-advanced technologies.
They expect that the current chip shortage plaguing world production will last into 2022.
They are also planning to spend US$100 billion over three years.
To put this into perspective, their investment this year in their future is more than double Taiwan’s entire military budget.
Perhaps they are more afraid of Samsung and Intel than Taiwan is of the People’s Liberation Army.
On the Hon Hai (aka Foxconn) side the MIH Open Platform for electric vehicle development has been expanding fast.
1,500 hardware and software companies around the world have now participated in the platform to facilitate the development of technologies such as self-driving and EV fleet management.
Hon Hai has partnered with automaker Yulong Group to form Foxtron Vehicle Technologies Co. to strengthen the platform, which provides solutions for other automakers.
Hon Hai’s stated goal is to turn the platform into the “Android of the electric car industry”.
If they are successful, this could be huge for them as it both couples the dynamism of a wide range of developers like Android does, it opens the possibility of them being central to the ecosystem in the way Google is–or at very least by being the initiator setting themselves up as the first manufacturing partner companies go to.
The platform is intended to allow any company to come in and create, and potentially outsource the manufacture of, electric vehicles.
Currently Hon Hai makes consumer electronics, like game consoles for Nintendo and iPhones for Apple.
Electric vehicles are, in essence, simply large electronic devices.
Will a Proposed Food Delivery Union get Lost in Traffic?
At a news conference outside the Ministry of Labor building in Taipei, a group of organizers called on people who work with Foodpanda and Uber Eats to sign up for a proposed National Delivery Industrial Union.
The stated main purpose of the union is to increase delivery drivers’ leverage in negotiating for fair pay rules with the two platforms.
The union would also seek to lobby the ministry and lawmakers to propose legislation for food deliveries and protect drivers’ rights.
According to the ministry, the number of food deliverers in Taiwan had increased to 88,000 as of the end of last year.
The food delivery business is a complicated one.
On the one hand, the companies can change their payment structures at whim, and it can be dangerous speeding through traffic.
On the other hand, the freedom and flexibility of it is a boon to many: For example students making some extra money, caregivers for loved ones making a little money on the side or for the unemployed between jobs.
Indeed, historically it fits very well into Taiwanese society–up until the 1990s factories would often outsource excess work to people in the neighborhood, so you would commonly see ground floors set up as little workshops with–for example–grandma putting together cocktail umbrellas while keeping an eye on the kids.
The new union will have its work cut out for it.
In Taiwan labour action is rare, and even more rarely successful.
Plus, the sheer logistics of trying to organize tens of thousands of people–many of whom may only do the job for a short period of time and quickly replaced by others–is staggering.
And they will have to come up with a compelling plan to interest drivers, and strategy to reach all of them–which seems near impossible without either a genius marketing campaign…or the cooperation of the two companies, which isn’t going to happen.
Getting enough members to have much leverage on the companies will be extremely difficult, but they may not need anywhere near so many to be able to lobby for legislation.
Image courtesy of the Foodpanda FB page