Taiwan has moved up five places from last year to 11th in the latest annual world competitiveness ranking released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
The global top 10 was led by Singapore, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Sweden, Norway, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
Taiwan ranked as the fifth largest net creditor in the world at the end of 2019, holding a strong net international investment position (NIIP), according to the central bank.
The Government-developed Hsinchu Science Park (HSP), Southern Taiwan Science Park (STSP) and Central Taiwan Science Park (CTSP) generated combined revenues of NT$900.077 billion (US$30.13 billion) in January-April 2020, growing 12.41% on year, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
The Taipei Times is reporting this “Taiwan’s telecom market is overcrowded, which might make prices for 5G services the lowest in the world, given the intense competition, Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) said yesterday.”
The odd thing is the headline says “highest 5G prices”, but the article is clear about them being the lowest.
The Ministry of Finance said it would ask state-run banks to offer loans totaling NT$1 trillion (US$33.67 billion) to help local firms upgrade and transform in the post-pandemic era.
The ministry would act as an integrator in facilitating the loans that might be available for a year after the COVID-19 outbreak has stabilized, Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮) told a media briefing.
The government is mobilizing resources to help local firms recover from the virus shock and grow stronger on the world stage, Su said.
A trillion is a big number.
Taiwan’s central bank has decided to leave its key interest rates unchanged after concluding a quarterly policymaking meeting Thursday.
The discount rate will remain at 1.125 percent, the lowest in the country’s history.
Taiwan declared FMD free, finally
Taiwan and the offshore counties of Penghu and Matsu have been officially declared a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) free zone where vaccination is not practiced, Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) announced.
To borrow a joke I used in today’s Taiwan This Week on ICRT, I should clarify that foot-and-mouth disease is different from foot-in-mouth disease that Taipei Mayor Ko P and both candidates for American president suffer from.
Foot-and-mouth disease affects pigs.
Taiwan’s pig farming industry had export sales of NT$60 billion (US$2 billion) in 1996, but was hit hard by an FMD outbreak in 1997 which triggered a ban on exports of fresh pork products.
A possible boost for foreign students
The National Development Council (NDC) said Tuesday it is considering removing the two-year work experience threshold for new foreign university graduates who want to work in the country.
They are mulling an amendment to current regulations governing the recruitment and employment of foreign professionals in Taiwan to remove the work experience requirement in a bid to encourage more foreign talent to work in the country.
The threshold has long been criticized because it is not easy for new university graduates to have two years of work experience, so foreign nationals who just received a bachelor’s degree are effectively ineligible to apply for a job in Taiwan.
After delivering a speech at Tunghai University recently I had a long discussion with some students afterward.
One of those students is from Hong Kong.
He is very worried about returning to Hong Kong, and would like to stay.
His biggest barrier, however, was the minimum salary requirement of, last I checked, NT$47,800.
I’ve met other foreign students with the same problem.
It is hard for young people to get a job at that salary.
Both the Ma and Tsai administrations had agreed to remove that salary requirement, but the Tsai administration backed down under pressure from the New Power Party.
Until that is tackled, these other so-called improvements will mean little.
In related news, Taiwan issued 240 employment gold cards to foreign professionals in the first five months of this year, an increase of 77.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Development Council (NDC) Tuesday.
The increase is mainly due to the effectiveness of the government’s policy to attract highly-skilled foreign talent and because Taiwan’s success in the battle against COVID-19 has enhanced the country’s international visibility, according to an NDC deputy chief.
While that is an improvement, it is an improvement over basically nothing and nearly nothing.
Meanwhile, the government plans to train 2,000 grade-school teachers to teach entirely in English within the next four years, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said.
The Executive Yuan on Dec. 6, 2018 passed a “blueprint for developing a bilingual nation” submitted by the National Development Council, with the goal of achieving widespread public fluency in English by 2030.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday met with a group of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, and reportedly urged the lawmakers to make faster progress on the blueprint.
The NDC is planning to allow foreign teachers to teach subjects other than languages at senior high school and lower levels, to help Taiwan achieve its goal of becoming a bilingual nation.
Currently, foreign teachers are only allowed to teach foreign language at senior high school or lower.
Any changes will only be introduced after detailed discussions with labor groups and academics, they said.
That last line is the key one, and very likely will be a major obstacle to them actually implementing this.
With a falling birth rate, Taiwan has a growing excess of teachers.
They will fight to keep those jobs.
When local interests fight against foreigner interests, the locals win.
Beautification plan launched
The Ministry of the Interior yesterday unveiled a NT$6 billion (US$202.33 million) environmental beautification program for county-governed cities, districts and townships nationwide, to boost local tourism and improve regional economies.
According to a spokesperson, the program would target key areas where the landscape should be improved: waterfronts, city parks, unused spaces, community areas and other designated spots.
It also seeks to create an environment at the local level in which small businesses can thrive.
The program would work at the community level to encourage collaborations between residents and community planning specialists.
Its goal is to entice young people working in big cities to return to their hometowns to work and live.
Approved proposals would be carried out under the guidance of landscape engineers and community planners to ensure that they improve the site rather than appear “gaudy,” as many past projects have.
Which could mean they will be tasteful…or boring.
Chen Chu to head up Control Yuan, and Tsai makes a sneaky pick
Former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) is to be appointed as Control Yuan president today, while doubling as head of the nation’s newly established National Human Rights Commission.
This was widely expected.
The choice is a very mixed bag.
The Control Yuan is one of Taiwan’s five branches of government, and is supposed to act as a kind of watchdog over the government.
It has a terrible record of actually doing this, as all too often it is a partisan mess.
Choosing Chen, a DPP stalwart, is a terrible choice–she’s highly partisan.
As head of the human rights commission, however, she’s an excellent choice.
She’s served jail time for being a political dissident during the martial law era.
It wasn’t her pick that got the headlines in the local media, though–but rather President Tsai’s reported choice of Justin Huang as vice president of the Control Yuan.
This pick, if confirmed and the reports are accurate, is a genius move.
As Jenna Lynn Cody is fond of saying, Tsai is playing 3D chess.
Huang is a former two-term Taitung county commissioner–and a KMT member.
Choosing a KMT member to balance the highly partisan Chen sends a good message.
It also has another, sneaky political aspect to it.
The local media today is suggesting that the KMT will kick him out of the party for taking the post.
Huang was fairly popular in Taitung, and if the KMT could have found a way to get him a national platform, he could have been a possible contender for higher office.
Instead the president, who is also the DPP chair, offered him that platform.
Memo to KMT chair Johnny Chiang: the only way to turn this into a win is to not kick him out of the party.
More woes for Johnny Chiang
If that wasn’t enough of a headache for Johnny Chiang, more troubles are on the way.
As the Taipei Times put it: Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday launched an online policy platform called “Chu’s Initiatives” in a bid to reform the party by fostering dialogue on Hong Kong, constitutional amendments, the economy, disease prevention and other issues.
This smells very much like Chu is planning to run for chair in May 2021.
This part was interesting:
Many people accuse the party of lacking a core platform, but former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) can serve as a model of a KMT politician who had achievements and was loved by the public, Chu said.
For example, Chiang sought to defend democracy and freedom, the establishment of the ROC, and foreign policies that favored the US, while opposing the Chinese Communist Party, he added.
Meanwhile, the full session of the KMT reform committee is in session today as I record this, and a new cross-Strait narrative is slated to be introduced to the public.
The official KMT website had the following:
Su Chi (蘇起), a member of the KMT reform committee, yesterday said that the KMT would not jettison “the 1992 Consensus,” adding that it could not be abolished, put aside, frozen, or abandoned.
However, he said, new elements could be added to make it clearer.
After several intra-party meetings, a general opinion was gradually formed.
The party believes that the 1992 Consensus should be respected for the economic dividends it had brought, but new narratives on the ROC, freedom, democracy, and the rule of law should be strengthened.
Johnny Chiang had campaigned for chair and stated he was open to scrapping the 92 consensus because he was well aware it is deeply unpopular with the electorate.
In short, the party isn’t backing him on this.
This makes Chiang’s job of trying to make the party electable in national elections again much harder.
We’ll find out in tomorrow’s show if there is much change in their cross-strait policies.
I suspect there will be some tinkering and talk of reducing the so-called compradors (in other words China-based Taiwanese businesspeople) influence on the KMT.
In practice I’m not expecting they’ll make much more than cosmetic changes, but we’ll see.
The Chinese take on Tsai speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit
President Tsai is going to speak at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, but rather than report this normally, I’m going to do it entirely with quotes from Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times:
An anti-China gang composed of Tsai Ing-wen, Michael Pompeo and Joshua Wong will meet by video conference during the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Thursday and Friday.
Chinese experts said the forum is a naked provocation against the “one-China policy,” which will intensify the confrontation between China and the US.
Analysts believe it is brazen for Wong, an activist and traitor who incites violence in Hong Kong, to address a forum touting democracy amid escalating anti-racism protests in the US.
The appearance of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is a naked provocation.
And Tsai and Wong are simply two cards of the US in the game with China, said Zhou Hong, an elected member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Under the ceaseless propaganda and hype of some Western politicians, anti-China and anti-Communist ideas have become more and more politically correct, Zhou said.
They also quoted a guy as saying “It is unwise for the Denmark to invite Tsai and Wong along with Pompeo … Hopefully, the Danish government and summit hosts have assessed the impact on relations between China and Denmark.”
Image courtesy of President Tsai Ing-wen’s Twitter account. Note the dissonance between the Global Times reporting above and the pic of the president with her cat promoting her speech.