Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) biggest lie seems to be his own slogan: “Get the goods out and tourists in, so Kaohsiung can make a fortune.”
First, what does “goods” refer to? The Port of Kaohsiung’s container volume last year was 10.44 million twenty-foot-equivalent units, an increase of 40.1 percent from 2000.
After the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the 2016 elections, national exports set a record by rising for 24 consecutive months, before starting to fall late last year.
The nation’s export dependency was 57.8 percent last quarter, higher than that of South Korea, at 36.5 percent, and Japan, at 14 percent. The claim that Taiwan cannot get the goods out is nonsense.
Next, do foreign tourists not visit Taiwan? As the nation attracted a record 11.07 million tourists last year, any claim that they do not would be false.
Maybe Han’s slogan refers to Taiwanese exports to China and Chinese tourists traveling to Taiwan.
Exports to China account for 41 percent of total exports, which is already too high, and although the number of Chinese tourists has fallen over the past two years, 2.73 million Chinese still visited last year, more than the 1.89 million Japanese visitors.
In other words, the number of Chinese tourists is high enough and it should not increase further, or the quality of the nation’s hospitality could slip.
Thus, Han’s slogan of “getting the goods out and tourists in” puts a spin on the nation’s economic story, inverting it as he seeks to draw in the downtrodden and unaware. With the pan-blue camp’s political maneuvering, he has sparked a “Han wave,” pushing him into the limelight.
Han’s economic thinking is a greater disaster. Since taking office in December last year, he has proposed the construction of a “love Ferris wheel,” a Disneyland, a horse racing track, casinos and a night market for the Lunar New Year holiday, while also trying to attract film theaters, and the wedding and romance industry.
He has invited the Lalu resort hotel chain to establish a Kaohsiung branch, as if he were encouraging Chinese investors to speculate in real estate. This could euphemistically be called a “civilian economy,” but is in reality a “street vendor economy” (攤販經濟). Could that really give a boost to the national economy?
Taiwan is a developed country. If Taiwanese want to maintain a foothold internationally and enlarge their role in the global supply chain, technology should remain the priority, which would boost the economy and help the nation keep up with other technological powers.
Taiwan must not be allowed to backslide into a dependent economy. Tourism, horse racing, gambling and hawkers are all highly dependent on visiting customers.
The nation only has a population of about 23 million. The number of service sector workers would need to rise sharply if Han’s economic ideas were to become mainstream. That would suppress the cultivation of high-tech talent, and the average income would not grow.
If this were to happen, the national economy would surely deteriorate and gradually fade from the international stage.
Huang Tien-lin is a national policy adviser to the president.
Translated by Eddy Chang
Taiwan’s status in the world community is experiencing something really different; it’s being treated like a normal country. And not just a “normal” country, more like a valuable, constructive, democratic and generous country. This is not simply an artifact of Taiwan’s successes in combatting the novel coronavirus. It is a new attitude, weighing Taiwan’s democracy against China’s lack of it. Before I continue, I should apologize to the readers of the Taipei Times. I have not visited Taipei since the opening of the American Institute in Taiwan’s new chancery building in Neihu last year, so I was unprepared for the photograph
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
At a June 12 news conference held by the Talent Circulation Alliance to announce the release of its white paper for this year, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) emphasized that, in this era of globalization, Taiwan should focus on improving foreign language and digital abilities when cultivating talent, so that it stands out from global competitors. I suggest the government should consider building a professional translation industry. If the public believes that there is a relationship between learning English and national competitiveness, then the nation must consider the social cost of language education. This should be assessed to maximise educational effectiveness: Is
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a