Monthly Archives: August 2010

Taiwan in 4.24 minutes

In late June, employees at a Malaysian company visited Taiwan. They condensed their 5-day trip into 4.24 minutes showing some common sights and highlights. The clip is a beautifully-made glimpse into Taiwan. The vivid colors makes you want to jump on the first plane to Taiwan.
The short features Taipei City, Sun-Mon Lake, Jiufen, Kaoshung, Taipei 101 and the landscapes outside the cities. The night markets with the wide assortment of delicious foods and shopping options are especially appealing. There is a scene where everyone in the group tries “Stinky Tofu” and their reactions are especially funny. The clip ends in a BBQ restaurant, where you can have a free cup of beer if you leave a photo of yourself kissing someone else.
You can visit Taiwan in 4.24 minutes at:

Chinese visitors outspend Japanese tourists

Earlier this year, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan surpassed Japanese tourists for the first time. Chinese tourists are also spending more per visit, according to a survey conducted by Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau last year. The average amount spent by Chinese tourists was US$ 115.3 while Japanese visitors spent US$100.88. According to the survey, while Chinese tourists preferred to purchase local specialty items, jewelry/jade, and clothing; Japanese tourists preferred local specialty items products, clothing and tea, respectively.

Press Division’s Letter to the Editor in SF Chronicle

Manfred Peng’s Letter to the Editor was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle today. Entitled it was a response to the paper’s “China rising” editorial on Tuesday, August 17th about China’s new standing as the world’s second-largest economy last quarter. Please link to the to read the whole letter.

Taiwan Insights launches new website

Starting with this e-newsletter, the Press Division of TECO in San Francisco will be linking the full text of our newsletter articles to our new website, In addition to the newsletter every month, the site will include brief articles translated from Taiwan’s major newspapers and magazines every few days.

On the site, we have included a Services section that details the literature, posters and films our office offers to users, free-of-charge. The site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, based on our past experience from callers. 

On the left-hand side, you’ll find a Factoid section with random interesting facts about Taiwan. This is followed by an Archive of our past articles grouped according to month.  Next, you’ll find an Events section that will list upcoming events. The final section includes a number of useful links providing more information about Taiwan.

Please take a moment to check out our new site and let us know if you have any suggestions about how to improve it. Thank you for your interest in Taiwan.

Photo Gallery: People@Work

This month’s photo gallery features the works of photographer Low Wee-chia (nickname “wee”). As the chief editor of a publishing company in Taipei, Low spend his leisure hours strolling through the streets of the capital, capturing remnants of the past in modern Taipei. On occasion, he will also focus his lenses on cityscapes, landscapes, macro photography and water lilies.

Low is a former photography instructor as DCView website in Taiwan and is a contributor for DigiPhoto, a photography magazine. His body of work may be seen on: You may also contact him at .

1. Bun master

A master chef toils in a hot and humid kitchen all day. His clothes are covered in white powder from working with flour all day, toiling to provide the steaming buns that are the delicious highlight to any meal.

2. Second-hand book store owner

In recent years, more and more second-hand book stores have gotten bigger and adopted an online model to keep up with the chains. But on some corners of Taipei, there are still traditional second-hand book stores to welcome avid readers.

3. Lady vendor of lo Mei


Lo mei (soya mixed snack) is a specialty of Taiwan, and a must for locals and visitors alike. They are many lo mei stalls selling these simmering dishes throughout the streets of Taiwan. Fast and delicious, it is easy to pick up an order after a busy day at work.

 4. Bakery shop owner


In bustling Taipei, where real estate is at a premium, you’ll rarely see a spacious bakery. Whereas new bakeries are equipped with hi-tech automated machines, this owner still uses traditional cake-baking tools, adding to the cultural flavor.

5. Owner of a Chinese herbal medicine shop 

Chinese people trust the efficiency of herbal medicines. Even in major cities, there are still many traditional Chinese medicine shops with some older than half a century.

 6.  Owner of incense store


Incense is a necessity for Buddhist/Taoist believers to communicate with their gods at the temples. Nowadays, young Taiwanese no longer know how to make incense and most of the incense sold is imported from China.

World’s youth open hearts, minds at Taiwan summer camp

Last month, young adults from around the world descended on Taiwan to participate in the Expatriate Youth Taiwan Summer Camp. The month-long camp combines educational classes, field trips and an island-wide tour of Taiwan. Organized and subsidized by Taiwan’s Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC), the program is a great bargain for young people (ages 16-27) who wish to experience something new, explore the island and perhaps learn about their own cultural roots.

Program nicknamed the Love Boat

Among the participants, the summer camp has been affectionately nicknamed the “Love Boat” because of the romantic attachments that often form during the program. Given the age group and its recreational setting, it is perhaps to be expected that fast forming friendships frequently lead to romance.

“By the end of week one, you could see people holding hands,” according to Scott Inouye, who participated in the program in the summer of 2005. And, while most of these fledgling relationships end a few weeks later, a few have resulted in marriage, Inouye said.

In Inouye’s year, there were about 200 young adults at each campus. Inouye was placed in the Chien Tan Campus, the preferred campus due to its proximity to Taipei’s vibrant nightspots, such as the Shilin Night Market. A typical day would begin with breakfast, followed by morning electives. After lunch, the group would go on a fieldtrip around Taipei. Then after dinner, the group would gather to see a cultural performance followed by free time. The last week and a half is usually reserved for the graduation trip around the island.

For Inouye, one of the most memorable occasions at that time was his first ride in a Taipei cab. As the taxi weaved through the city’s rather chaotic traffic, he frantically searched for a seat belt, only to realize, that there were none.

History of the program

Founded in 1967, the program is the longest running of its kind. Enrollments increased with Taiwan’s economic boom and with the lifting of martial law in 1987. By the early 1990s, the program was six-weeks long and catered to 1,200 international participants aged 18-23. Taiwan’s devastating earthquake in 1999 made parents more hesitant to send their kids on the program, but the program still continued every year, until 2003, when the island was hit by an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). That summer was the first time in 37 years that the program did not take place. Currently, besides the Expatriate Youth Taiwan Summer Camp, the OCAC also has three other programs for young adults. They include the Language Study Program for Expatriate Youth, the and the World Youth Hakka Culture Camp.

The OCAC accepts applications for the camps at the beginning of each year, usually with a deadline at the end of February. Applications are processed in Taiwan and almost all the literature about the program is in Chinese. However, participants usually hear about the program through word of mouth, from family or friends.

A bargain not to be missed

Participants in the Expatriate Youth camp usually pay their air fare along with a registration fee. This year, the registration fee was NT$20,000 (around US$625). The program is subsidized since the fee hardly covers the cost of transportation, food, lodging, and a wide selection of cultural classes.  As such, it is surely one of the best travel bargains around since the program gathers a wealth of resources and exposes   campers to a wide diversity of cultural performances, island-wide travel and offers  opportunities to socialized with other like-minded youths from around the world all in a  supervised environment.  Although the camps do have participants from Europe, Asia and elsewhere, the bulk of the campers come from the United States and Canada.

Inouye highly recommends the summer camp, and not just because the opportunity for romantic encounters. When he first applied to the program, he did so at the suggestion of his Chinese-American mother, who thought he might enjoy the experience. “I had never been aboard before then, but after that, I wanted to keep going back,” he recalls. He returned on subsequent OCAC programs in the summer of 2006 and 2008, when he enrolled in the Language Study program. The two programs are very similar, with the language program focusing on learning Mandarin Chinese.  But, Mandarin instruction is just one of many classes offered on the Expatriate Youth camp.

A trip down Memory Lane

Valerie Soe, an assistant professor of Asian-American studies at San Francisco State University, a documentary film maker, and an alumnus of the program from 1981, has long wanted to make a film about the camp.

When Soe experienced Taiwan it was way before its economic boom and while the island was still under martial law.  Her experience was very different to Inouye’s and more reflective of austere times.  Every morning, the counselors would bang on their doors to wake the campers up for the 6:30 am flag ceremony. Although there were language and cultural classes promoting a deeper understanding of Taiwan, the program also contained negative images of China and taught that the Republic of China was the legitimate government of China.

When asked to describe some of things she recalled from her time at the camp, Soe mentioned seeing a heartwarming film – a romance between a young couple who could not be together… because of Communism. This was an example of the subtle or not-so-subtle propaganda aimed toward them. In the early 1980s, the program had about 500 participants in Taipei. Despite the rules, which campers to this day try to evade, Soe’s generation were still very well-treated and given luxuries not afforded to the locals.  This was brought home to her as she and her fellow campers traveled around the island in air-conditioned buses.

According to Soe, the program was an interesting strategy to get into the minds of young people. “At 18 or 19, you don’t care about global politics,” Soe said. The participants just wanted to “hang out, dance and hook up.”

In 1994, Andrea Sui also participated in the summer program. She grew up around large Chinese and Taiwanese populations in the Bay Area, but her immediate neighborhood was Danville, California, where she grew up among mostly white kids. As such, she appreciated her experience. “It was valuable for me to learn about the culture. And I know people who are still close friends from that experience.”

That summer, she had just graduated from high school and was one of the younger members in the group. It was her first trip to Taiwan and also her first introduction to Taiwan’s flying insects. She also noticed the “Love Boat” aspect of the trip, where “a lot of the college graduates were looking to get together,” she recollects. 

Youth programs elsewhere

Other countries have similar programs, either organized by government, government-affiliated organizations or non-profits. By far, the largest of such programs is Taglit-Birthright Israel, a non-profit that seeks to heighten Jewish solidarity worldwide.  Since it began ten years ago, the program has sent 230,000 young people to Israel for 10-day trips, free-of-charge. Other smaller programs include the Irish Way (Irish American Cultural Institute) and the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program (The National Italian American Foundation). Some of these programs are completely free while others charge up to US$5,000.  

Soe, Sui and Inouye fondly recall their experiences of the camp and their time in Taiwan and urge other young people not to miss the chance to experience a new country, a new culture, a new language, and make new friendships that may just last a lifetime.

Taiwanese companies recruit locally, Sept 10-11

Since its inception in 2003, the Overseas High-Tech Talent Recruitment Missions initiated by the Taiwan government have attracted over 12,000 overseas professionals to participate in local job fairs. Next month, the 2010 High-Tech Talent Job Fair (aka HiRecruit) will be holding its two-day fair in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara (5101 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, California). Come and meet directly with a host of international companies located in Taiwan. Better still, sign-up to interview for one of the 300 jobs available at .

After recruiting in the Bay Area on September 10 and 11 (Friday and Saturday), the group continues on to Austin, Boston and Toronto. Nearly two dozen firms will participate, with employers searching for professionals with experience in  biotechnology, medicine & healthcare, green energy, tourism, culture & creativity,  and high-end agriculture, as well as cloud computing, intelligent electric vehicles, intelligent green buildings, and patent industrialization.

The HiRecruit delegation invites all qualified professionals to take advantage of this unique event to broaden their horizons and consider the opportunities offered by the following dynamic Taiwanese companies: AU Optronics Corp., Chimei  Innolux Corp.,  Devicom Semiconductor, Delta Electronics, Etron Technology, Global Unichip Corp., Google Taiwan, Macronix Int’l Co., Optoma Corp., Proscend Communications, Springsoft Inc., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Topco Scientific Co., United Microelectronics Corp., Industrial Technology Research Institute, Institute for Information Industry, National Applied Research Laboratories, China Medical University, National Central University, National Chengchi University, National Cheng Kung University, National Chiao-Tung University, and National Yang-Ming University.  

Please visit english for more information.

Web contest to pick your favorite snack foods

Besides its breathtaking natural landscapes, Taiwan is also well-known for its wealth of delicious street foods. Take a stroll through any of the island’s many night markets and you will be able to refresh yourself with a bowl of Taiwanese shaved ice or maybe, for the more adventurous palate, some pig-blood cake. Let us know your favorite Taiwanese snack food by casting your vote online.

The contest, sponsored by the Government Information Office, will run until September 28. In selecting “Taiwan’s Yummy Snacks,” eight of Taiwan’s specialty foods have been chosen to face off in four rounds. In the first round, pig-blood cake battles stinky tofu; in round two it is oyster omelet against the Taiwanese meat ball; in the third round, steamed dumplings will be matched up against braised pork rice; and the closing round will pit pearl milk tea against mango shaved ice.

Participants need only log on to the contest website to vote for their favorite food. Contestants may only cast a single vote each round, and all those who voted for the winner will be entered into a prize drawing. The top prize for each round is a Garmin portable GPS system.

Participants who select the winner in all four rounds will also be entered to win a special prize—an HTC smartphone. To access the contest website, please visit:

Taipei remains reserved about Beijing’s conditional withdrawal of missiles

On August 2, Taiwan’s presidential spokesman Lo Chi-chiang said that the Taiwanese people will not accept China’s offer to withdraw over 1,000 missiles targeting Taiwan on the condition that the island accepts the “one China” principle. Taipei’s response came as China publicly suggested the withdrawal of missiles in future talks about confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs).

Speaking on the issue a few days before, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said that the two sides could “discuss whatever issues,” including the removal of Chinese missiles, when they explore the establishment of a CSBMs on military issues. It was the first time the Chinese military had publicly suggested the withdrawal of missiles.

In response, Taipei sought to improve cross-strait relations if China willingly initiated the withdrawal on the basis of the “1992 consensus” reached by the two sides. The “1992 consensus” refers to the understanding reached by official representatives at the 1992 talks in Hong Kong discussing the definition of “one China.” The core content of the consensus is “one China, respective interpretations.” In simple terms, “one China” is recognized by Beijing to mean the People’s Republic of China (PRC), whereas Taiwan  interprets it to mean the Republic of China (ROC). The two sides recognize each other as a political entity and are willing to shelve the sovereignty dispute in order to promote mutual communications.

According to the Central News Agency, Lo said that peaceful and positive cross-strait engagement not only serves to meet the expectations of the people on both sides but also the wishes of the international community.  However, amid the warming atmosphere of the past two years, there is a “discordant picture” in which their missiles are still aimed at Taiwan.

The United Daily News reported Taiwan’s Defense Ministry as saying that the majority of the missiles are of a mobile type, and therefore it has no military significance when their removal from one place means they can be redeployed from other locations.

The Liberty Times reported that Lin You-chang, the spokesman of Taiwan’s  major opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, said that the issues of Taiwan’s security and sovereignty cannot be compromised with any precondition. The DPP strongly insisted that Taiwan and China should negotiate on an equal footing. The DPP cannot accept the so-called “one China” principle, that they believe would further diminish Taiwan’s national status and identity.

The Taipei-based China Times commented that the primary goal of the proposal put forward by China regarding a possible withdrawal of its missiles is not aimed at Taipei, but at Washington, in order to halt  US arms sales to Taiwan. The newspaper said that China’s apparent willingness to talk is intended  to make the international community, particularly the United States, think that the two sides have already entered into political negotiations on the disarmament issue, and  that the sale of American weapons to Taiwan risks  undermining  the  negotiations.

The paper noted that the peaceful lull was temporary given that the United States and China were hostile again when Beijing criticized the US-South Korea joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea, and Beijing responded by carrying out its own military exercises.  Also, at the ASEAN Regional Forum held in Vietnam, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained that the South China Sea is free for use by all ships. This counters China’s claim of sovereignty over the area.  In view of the delicate relations between the US and China, the paper suggested that in future discussions about the “withdrawal of missiles” the government should consider the issue from a regional point of view, and not just limit its thinking to cross-strait relations.

OEM sector shakes off economic downturn, earn record profits

Despite the continuing global economic woes Taiwan’s original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are emerging with their heads held high. While their 3 to 4 percent profit margin may seem rather unspectacular, these statistics hide a resurgence that is hard to ignore, according to the Central News Agency. In fact, through innovation, expansion and cost control, many Taiwan OEMs have actually earned record high profits in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis.

What is even more surprising is the fact that despite a fall in profit margins from 15 to 4 percent Taiwan’s notebook OEMs have rolled out record high earnings in the last three years.

Companies with record high after-tax profits in 2009 and exceptional earnings per share (EPS) include: Quanta Computer with profits of NT$22.3 billion (US$6.9 billion) and EPS of   NT$6.09 (US$0.19), Compal Electronics with profits of NT$19.2 billion (US$6 billion) and EPS of NT$4.91 (US$0.15) and Wistron Corporation with earnings of NT$9.135 billion (US$285 million).

Constant innovation is the key

Unlike their Chinese counterparts, Taiwan’s OEMs do not rely on low labor costs to make a profit. The main reason behind the continued survival and growth of the island’s notebook OEM manufacturers is their continual technological innovation and their ability to add value to their products.

Perhaps an industry with a 3 to 4 percent gross profit margin does not merit a discussion and maybe a sector that does not evolve is destined to stagnate. Indeed, in order to survive, every business must innovate. Some OEMs have made the transition to a brand name in their own right, for example ASUS and Acer. Although this transition is difficult to achieve, companies can create new value, according to the Central News Agency.  The key is “diversified developments” in a common direction – from desktop computers  to notebook computers,  and  extending to the 3C industry (computer, communication and consumer electronic parts), televisions, auto parts, medical equipment, and even furniture and furnishings.

In the future, not only 3C industries will be high-tech. Technology will be integrated into automobiles, furniture and even home furnishings, making these smart electronic products as well. Taiwan’s OEM industries have expanded from the 3C industry gradually to infiltrate every corner of the home, thus expanding their market. Furthermore, these companies will form alliances to create new business opportunities.

After twenty years, Taiwan’s OEM sector has accumulated ample experience in production technology and design capability. In the face of the booming Chinese market, Taiwanese businesses believe they have what it takes to compete.  The industry is aided by a new generation of creative design elites who have studied abroad, combined with the experience of the older generation of production management, making the partnership ready to handle the Chinese market. At this point, the growth of the Chinese economy provides Taiwan businesses with many mouth-watering opportunities.

Brand name versus OEM?

In the tussle between brand name and OEM, OEM leaders know where their commitment lies.  Speaking to the Central News Agency,  T.H. Tung, chairman of Pegatron, which spun off from ASUS in 2008 to focus on the OEM business, said that design expertise and the foundry will be at the core of the  business and will comprise  the true value of Pegatron.

Ray Chen, general manager of Compal Electronics, is also pragmatic when it comes to what is important and believes the 3 to 4 percent profit margin is a smoke-screen. “Do not underestimate us … ignore the gross margin figures, pay attention to the solid profit rates and profit numbers,” he stressed. Of course, everyone dreams about his brand, but not everyone can realize that dream … better to understand one’s own expertise, and take full advantage of it,” he said.