Tue, May 16, 2017 - Page 8 News List

The organic functioning of Taiwan

By William Stimson

Taiwan is not like the US. It fears neither government socialism nor the most freewheeling and enterprising market forces on all levels. It has not fallen hostage to fundamentalist ideological stances like the US has. The thing that so impressed me, as I made my way with Shuyuan through that traditional marketplace, is that — unlike the US — Taiwan works.

On all levels it works, because the bottom level was never razed and obliterated to superimpose in its place something supposedly superior, more modern or more profitable.

In Taiwan, everything rests on the firm bedrock of good people capable of doing quality work with their own hands who are busily engaged in that work, like their ancestors were in the distant past.

Even the architect who built the retreat center, who comes from nearby Yuanlin, is one of those craftsmen.

He started out as a painter, went to Japan to study interior design, then returned to Taiwan to became an interior designer. Afterward, he went back to Japan, this time to obtain a degree in architecture.

Now his world-class projects are famous in this part of the nation. Each is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

The carpenter who labored at his side every step of the way is himself a master of his trade, nothing short of an artist.

The laborers I saw over the years working in one capacity or another on the project were all the same. These men and women are not university educated, but they are still the cream of Taiwan.

When the US is gone and forgotten, their kind will still be here, doing their quality work. All this has been a splendid thing to witness first-hand, especially for me, as a New Yorker.

William Stimson teaches at National Chi Nan University and Tunghai University.

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