When Ross Maddock led an Australian delegation to meet President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) the day after her inauguration in 2016, the first topic she raised was pension reform.
“I told her that we can do this,” says Maddock, former head and council member of the Australia-Taiwan Business Council. Maddock told Tsai that Australia has both the governmental experience to set up an efficient superannuation system and the business know-how to create new services around that system that will boost the finance sector.
Indeed, Australia was ranked first in the world in Allianz’s 2016 Pension Sustainability Index.
Photo courtesy of Australia Office Taipei
Gary Cowan, the newly appointed Representative Designate of the Australia Office Taipei, says Australia is known here mostly as a resources supplier and a great holiday destination, but adds that the country has a lot more to offer Taiwan. Central to his vision for expanding the two countries relations in the years ahead is raising Australia’s profile as a partner for collaboration in an ever widening range of fields.
“The timing’s great,” Cowan says. “Australia is looking north to the Indo-Pacific right at the same time that Taiwan is looking south through its New Southbound Policy… There is a policy symmetry that’s going to work for us.”
GREEN and GOLD ENERGY
Photo courtesy of Australia Office Taipei
Australia, one of Taiwan’s biggest energy providers and its largest supplier of thermal coal, is now looking to provide greener alternatives to Taiwan’s transforming energy sector.
Cowan applauds the major energy reforms Taiwan is currently undergoing and says the transition challenges faced by the nation, especially power reliability and pricing, mirror Australia’s own experience.
He says his country has a lot to share with Taiwan both commercially and in terms of policy.
Photo courtesy of Chen Hu-jun
“Our [renewable energy] companies have an enormous amount of skill… and a commitment to Taiwan which has been enabled by the determination of the [Taiwanese] government to move into this arena,” Cowan says.
Australia’s liquefied natural gas exporters and renewable energy companies stand to benefit from new opportunities opening up in Taiwan’s shifting energy market.
Maddock says many Australia-Taiwan business council members are keen to get involved with new opportunities in Taiwan’s energy sector and names Macquarie Taiwan as one example which has evolved its investment strategy, becoming an operator of windfarms and solar plants.
In 2016, the Australian multinational announced plans to invest US$791 million, becoming the chief stake holder in the Formosa 1 offshore wind farm project.
Cowan says Australia’s strength in scientific research and biotechnology also has great potential to compliment Taiwan’s efforts to develop its biotech sector into an engine of innovation.
Indeed, already the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation (台灣血液基金會) regularly sends blood to Australia to create blood preparations for medical use in Taiwan. As the world’s leading plasma producer, the firm audits the blood service’s laboratories in Taiwan, which are also approved by the Australian government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Maddock says there are many more opportunities like this in the biotech sphere, cancer treatment and hearing-aid technology having particular potential.
The two countries have also begun to collaborate on agriculture research projects. Last year, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Queensland state government and sent four local varieties of lychee to be grown in tropical state, taking advantage of the complementary climates to extend the fruit’s short growing season.
Maddock says joint-projects like this should be a priority for Australia as Taiwan’s superiority in tropical and subtropical horticulture is undisputed.
Yet despite these promising developments, it seems building awareness in Taiwan of the potential for partnership with Australia remains a challenge.
“We [Australia] shut Taiwan off for a long time,” says Maddock, referring to decades of little to no diplomatic contact that began after Australia ended formal ties with Taiwan in 1972.
He adds that although migration, travel and direct flights in recent years have greatly improved levels of understanding, some gaps still remain.
Cowan aims to close these gaps by fostering communities of Taiwanese who have a strong Australian connection. The trade office recently established an Australian alumni association and held a photo competition for returned working holiday makers.
The alumni association has already created some very special connections — a newly wedded couple who first met at an alumni get-together recently gifted the Australia Office a box of customary cookies and thanked them for creating the opportunity for them to meet.
Building upon the joint lychee research project, a young farmers exchange program was launched last year with a group of Australian fruit growers coming to learn farming techniques for lychees and bananas in Taiwan. Cowan says the second round is getting under way with a Taiwanese cohort heading to Australia later this year.
“In looking south, we hope Taiwan thinks of Australia in a broader range of fields than it has before,” Cowan says.
Australia will have to work hard to have Taiwan see it as a natural partner in sectors where the two countries’ collaboration has been previously limited, especially in service sectors outside of education and tourism, such as finance or healthcare. Yet being included in the New Southbound Policy rubric may offer Australia just the chance it needs to refashion its image and give Taiwan’s government and business leaders cause to head even further south — down under.
Chen Wang-shi (陳罔市) doesn’t know where to go if she is forced to move. The 78-year-old Chen is an active “sea woman” (海女) in Taiwan’s easternmost fishing village of Makang (馬崗) in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮). When the waves are calm, she ventures out to forage for algae, oysters and other edible marine morsels. She lives alone in the village, as her children have moved to the cities for work, returning for weekends and festivals. “I cannot get used to living in Taipei, and I feel very uncomfortable if I don’t go out to the ocean to forage. I
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten
A widely criticized peer-reviewed study that measured the attractiveness of women with endometriosis has been retracted from the medical journal Fertility and Sterility. The study, “Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study,” was first published in 2013 and has been defended by the authors and the journal in the intervening years despite heavy criticism from doctors, other researchers and people with endometriosis for its ethical concerns and dubious justifications, with one advocate calling the study “heartbreaking” and “disgusting.” The study’s conclusion was: “Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups.
Back in the 1950s, the lifeguards of Bondi Beach, Sydney, were not only charged with rescuing surfers and scanning for sharks. In their role as “beach inspectors” they were also responsible for ensuring that swimsuits conformed to New South Wales state regulations. At least 7.6cm of fabric was required over the thigh, no navels were to be exposed and shoulder straps had to be “sturdy.” One of the best-known beach inspectors was Aubrey Laidlaw, who had already laid down the law when the first bikini debuted on the beach in 1946. By the turn of the 1960s, the “Bikini Wars” were