The nation’s over-dependence on China has cost Taiwan’s young people the courage to face and defeat challenges, Alliance Cultural Foundation chairman Stanley Yen (嚴長壽) said, adding that Taiwan should not define itself as competing with China and should instead play to its strengths.
Yen made the remarks in a speech titled “What I have in mind for Taiwan” on Friday at an event hosted by the National Science Council.
Yen said that by giving the rest of the world access to its vast market and manpower, China has weakened Taiwan’s position both globally and regionally, Taiwan has become overly dependent on China, to the extent that Taiwan is stopping in its tracks and waiting for China to surrender part of its profits.
“On the surface, it may seem to be an opportunity for business and increased income, but we have to take a step back and think that if we were in the same situation with either Japan or the US, would they be willing to surrender part of their profits when signing trade deals with us?” Yen said, adding that reliance on Chinese profits has cost Taiwanese youth their bravery in facing challenges.
Prior to China’s adoption of a more liberal economy, Taiwan’s young people had faced the world with nothing but a satchel and broken English, but today, the younger generation quails at the sight of what lies beyond Taiwan’s shores, Yen said.
“We should not be afraid, for we have our own advantages,” Yen said, adding that Taiwan is the Asian version of Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
“Taiwan is a country where people know how to live our lives,” Yen said. “However, what Taiwan lacks is people to guard its accomplishments, but explorers and entrepreneurs to pave the path into the future.”
“We don’t need to compare ourselves with China, Japan or South Korea,” he added. “What Taiwan needs to do is to carve out its own unique path.”
Commenting on how to make the transition, Yen said the nation needed to rely on its progeny and to do so, the nation’s education policies needed to change.
The current system focuses on the “exemplary model,” but educating the current students with the exemplary model of yesterday is only teaching them how to adhere to bygone values and traditions, Yen said.
Yen called it “a rear-view mirror” method that focused more on efficiency than creativity, and said it was the main reason Taiwan was still focused on providing original equipment manufacture (OEM) and original design manufacturer (ODM) services.
“We need people in the role of ‘searchlights’ instead of ‘rear-view mirrors,’ people who look forward and pierce the foggy uncertainty of the future,” Yen said.
The past decade or so has seen massive improvements in communication technology, but the advances have not saved time as they were originally intended to, but rather turned into a major waste of time as the younger generation spends increasing amounts of time browsing Facebook, marking their locations and busying themselves with “completely unimportant things,” he said.
They have no time to bring themselves closer to the land and to the people around them and “they lack the time to fully integrate themselves into society and enjoy real life, real culture,” Yen said.
“Taiwan has never been short of brilliant minds. What it has been short of is the sort of people that can integrate the mental acumen of Taiwanese into business or other sectors,” he added.
Taiwanese should fully understand their own advantages and use them, and once they do, sustainable development of the nation will not be far off, Yen said.