Monthly Archives: April 2012

Seediq Bale’s director in SF for US debut on April 27

Bay Area audiences will get a chance to see Warrior of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale when the film opens at the AMC Metreon 16 (101 Fourth Street, San Francisco) and AMC Cupertino Square 16 (10123 N Wolfe Road, Cupertino) on April 27. During the Friday evening opening in San Francisco, director Wei Te-sheng will also be on hand to answer questions from the audience about his movie.

Seediq Bale is a Taiwan-made historical movie about the aboriginal rebellions against Japanese colonial rule. The film centers on Mona Rudao, one of the leaders of the Seediq tribe living in a mountainous area of Taiwan. It is a story that parallels much of the Native American story of how the West was won at the cost of the Native American Indian tribes. Based on a true story, the epic film bears similarities to Braveheart, which starred Mel Gibson, and portrays the universal struggle among oppressed peoples for their freedom.

A contender for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards, the film debuted in Taiwan on September 11, 2011. Since then, the film has won in the category of Best Feature Film, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Effects and Best Original Music at the 2011 Golden Horse Awards, Taiwan’s equivalent to the Oscars.

For more about the movie, please read this month’s special issue and visit the movie’s website, .

A photo exhibition of “Why Taiwan Matters” at SF Public Library until May 24

Why Taiwan Matters is an exhibition that explores the vitality and creativity that can be seen in all aspects of modern Taiwan, from the medical health sector to the ubiquitous convenience stores, from religion to pop music, and from industrial clusters to green technology. This exhibition shares with you Taiwan’s experience of “honing the people’s skills, which turns out to be the most valuable … resource in the world today.” (Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, March 10, 2012).

The 34-piece exhibition has been resized to fit the Chinese Center Exhibit Space, located on the 3rd floor of the San Francisco Main Library (100 Larkin Street). The exhibition is free to the public and will continue until May 24.

Defense minister opposes defector’s return

In speaking to the Legislative Yuan on March 22, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu stated his opposition to Taiwan-born World Bank vice president Justin Yi-fu Lin’s return to the island to worship his ancestors. Kao stressed that he will insist on this position as long as he is the defense minister, and stated that he would resign if the grand justices have a different interpretation of the defector law and let Lin return without making him serve a prison term, according to the United Evening News.

Justin Lin, formerly known as Lin Cheng-yi, was originally from Ilan County, Taiwan. In 1972, his transfer from National Taiwan University, the island’s top university, to the Military Academy was much publicized and he was held up as a model soldier by Taiwan’s government. In 1979, while serving as a company commander on Taiwan’s offshore island of Kinmen (Quemoy), Lin defected to mainland China by swimming to the other side of the strait. He was charged with desertion and the prosecutor’s office of Taiwan’s Defense Ministry’s military court issued an order to arrest him. Lin subsequently received a Master of Economics from Beijing University and a PhD from the University of Chicago. He is currently serving as the vice president of the World Bank.

Lin’s wife, Chen Yun-ying, who was allowed to leave Taiwan to join her husband, is now a member of China’s National People’s Congress. In early March, she publicly expressed her willingness to join her husband if he is allowed to visit Taiwan. Yang Yi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council, openly urged the Taiwan government to allow Lin and his wife to enter Taiwan as soon as possible.

The Taipei-based China Times reported that when Lin defected, Defense Minister Kao was then serving as a battalion commander. They had a family-to-family friendship. Kao pointed out that Lin is now wanted by the Defense Ministry’s military court. Once Lin returns to Taiwan, he should be treated in accordance with military law. Kao stressed that soldiers are responsible for defending the nation. Instead, Lin collaborated with the enemy and violated a soldier’s core value – loyalty to the nation. There are no gray areas in this instance, according to Kao.

The China Times reported that Lin’s defection in 1979 has already passed the 20 year statute of limitation. For a major crime, there can be an extension of five years, but even with that, Lin is still well past the deadline for prosecution. However in 2002, the military filed formal charges, accusing Lin of collaborating with the enemy in accordance with Taiwan’s Armed Forces Criminal Law, and issued an arrest warrant. In other words, there are differing interpretations over the legal grounds for prosecuting Lin. Under the defense minister’s interpretation, Lin is considered a “continuous criminal,” and in accordance with that interpretation, Lin’s continuous stay in China is a crime in progress and prosecution will “be started upon the end of that criminal act.”

According to the China Times, Legislator Wu Yu-sheng questioned why Beijing would ask Taipei to accept Lin when Beijing itself prosecuted one Chinese defector who had returned to the mainland in 1991 and put him in jail. Legislator Chen Cheng-hsiang, once a career military official, noted that desertion to the enemy brings shame on the military so he is strongly opposed to Lin’s return.

In a letter to the United Daily News, Professor Tao Sheng-ping of the Chinese Culture University (Taipei) wrote that it is an undeniable fact that China still deploys more than a thousand missiles aimed at Taiwan and has never renounced the use of force against the island. Even though the government is currently promoting reconciliation with China, Taiwan’s soldiers are the last wall of defense and in this case, they should not let down their guard and switch their position toward the enemy.

When examining the policy of the Defense Ministry, it is easy to understand that even with the passage of time; Lin’s actions hurt his country. If a defector can be pardoned and exonerated, it would bring a hugely negative impact on the value system of soldiers. Lin’s desire to return to his homeland should be weighed with these considerations, stressed Tao.

While at National Taiwan University Lin was active in the student movement on campus, according to the China Times. He even initiated a campaign against letting the Chinese Communists join the United Nations in 1971. It remains a puzzle why in just a few years; a patriotic student such as Lin could make such an about-face and set out instead to harm Taiwan. Before his return, Lin should at least reveal the true nature of his actions to the people of Taiwan, the China Times commented.

Taiwan views China’s economic zone with caution

During his visit to Taiwan in late March, Governor Su Shulin of China’s Fujian Province promoted the Pingtan Economic Experimental Zone to Taiwanese businesses, urging overall joint industrial cooperation. However, Taiwan’s Premier Joan Chen took a more cautious approach, warning of the political implications in the case, saying instead that it is best “discussed under the framework of the ECFA.” The ECFA is a free trade agreement-like arrangement between Taiwan and China, signed on June 29, 2010, which aims to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between the two sides.

Pingtan is the largest island off China’s Fujian Province, covering an area of 370  square kilometers with a population of nearly 400,000. Pingtan is the Chinese territory that is closest to Taiwan. In 2009, China’s State Council decided to develop the Pingtan zone as a demonstration to explore cross-strait exchanges and cooperation and as a pilot for technological development of the West Taiwan Strait Economic Zone.

The Taipe-based Central News Agency reported that Yiin Chii-ming, Minister of Taiwan’s Council for Economic Planning and Development, said Pingtan Island is in the development stage, so its transport facilities, housing and social conditions are not yet fully realized. It is a potential risk for Taiwanese businesses to rush to invest there.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) noted that the Pingtan experimental zone was established by China in line with the principle of “one country, two systems,” with the aim of the “five joints,” including joint planning, joint development, joint operation, joint management and mutual benefits with Taiwan. According to the poll, 80 percent of Taiwanese people do not buy into the “one country, two systems” idea and Taiwan’s government has no intention to jointly plan the Pingtan experimental zone with China, and expects that “Taiwanese businesses will not be misled.” The Central News Agency reported, the MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan said in the Legislative Yuan that the Pingtan case should be viewed economically, and should not be promoted on political grounds or for propaganda purposes.

The United Evening News commented that Pingtan Island was only valued for its fishing in the past, but now because of its proximity to Taiwan, with only 68 nautical miles to Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park – Taiwan’s Silicon Valley, Pingtan has gained an unprecedented strategic level of importance to China as an experimental zone for merging cross-strait economic development. President Ma Ying-jeou’s economic strategy is to use the ECFA as a fulcrum in an effort to promote regional economic integration. Now, having rejected the Pingtan experimental plan, Taiwan’s government should maintain its strategy to use the ECFA to develop Chinese industrial cooperation.

Professor Shen Ming-shih of the National Defense University Department of Strategic Studies expressed reservations about Pingtan in a United Daily News article. He stressed that Pingtan attempts to attract Taiwan capital, talent and experience to invest in the West Taiwan Strait Economic Zone. Besides, Pingtan Island was once an important venue for China’s military exercises. According to the plans, there will be routine sea passage and flights from Pingtan to Taiwan’s major cities in the future, which will definitely impact the original strategic purpose of the island, which served as buffer in the Taiwan Strait.

The Central News Agency reported that Taiwan’s National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai De-sheng said in the Legislative Yuan that it is highly inaccurate to say that there is no political plot in the Pingtan experimental zone. He is opposed to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s statement that he “hopes to accelerate the development of the Pingtan experimental zone to make new contributions to promoting the great deed of peaceful reunification with Taiwan.”

Taiwanese conglomerates lack succession planning

Leaders of Taiwan’s largest enterprises are faced with the problem of passing the baton on to the next generation, according to a survey conducted by Commonwealth monthly. More than 60 percent of the 30 largest enterprise groups in Taiwan do not have a clear leadership succession plan, and only 20 percent have named their successors. In the survey, companies with leaders under the age of 60 and deemed not to be in need of an urgent succession plan, fell from 12 in 2009 to five in 2012.

The survey revealed that 60 percent of the top 30 enterprise groups with leaders over the age of 60 have no clear succession plan. Among them, seven had “no clear succession status” because there were no clear signs of successors emerging in the last three years. They included: Hon Hai Precision Group (chairman Terry Gou, 62), MediaTek (chairman Tsai Ming-kai, 62), Taishin Financial Holding Group (chairman Thomas T L Wu, 62) and Siliconware Precision Group (chairman Bough Lin, 61 years), Lin Yuan Group (chairman Tsai Hong-tu, 60), BenQ Group (chairman K Y Lee, 60) and ASUS (chairman Johnny Shih, 60).

It is uncertain what the founders of Evergreen Group (Chang Yung-fa, 85), ASE Group (Jason C S Chang, 68), and Quanta (Barry Lam, 63) intend to do, but they now share in the pressing challenge of maintaining quality leadership and business continuity. Only Morris Chang, 81, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, has announced a plan to groom three “co-chief operating officers” to head up research and development, operations and business development.

Even those who have passed the reigns to the second or third generations face the problem of untangling corporate property issues and other red tape. They include companies such as Chinatrust Financial Holding (chairman Jeffrey Koo, 79), Far Eastern Group (chairman Douglas Hsu, 71), Kinpo Group (chairman Rock Hsu, 68), Shin Kong Financial Holding Group (chairman Eugene Tung Chin Wu, 67), MiTAC Synnex Group (chairman Matthew Miao, 66), Tatung (chairman Lin Wei-shan, 66), and the Formosa Plastics Group (president Wang Wen-yuan, 65).

Evergreen Group chairman Chang, Wang Group chairman Dai Sheng-yi, Ruentex Financial Group chairman Samuel Yin, and Hon Hai Group chairman Gou, all announced that they intend to donate over 80 percent of their wealth. Thus, it seems that they are not necessarily focusing on the next generation taking over their businesses, reported Commonwealth.

These leading companies are vital to Taiwan’s economic transformation, with a total market capitalization of NT$13 trillion (US$433 billion). The magazine reported that only 20 percent of the 30 largest conglomerates have announced their leadership succession plans publicly.

Taiwan enters Japan’s semiconductor supply chain

One year after the devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan, Taiwan’s businesses have finally broken into the protected industrial supply chain of Japan, reported Commonwealth monthly. Now both countries will have the advantage of tag-teaming against recent South Korean high-tech ascendancy. After the earthquake, Japan’s supply chain fractured and the widespread flooding in Thailand further contributed to this shift towards Taiwan.

Japan’s integrated device manufacturers used to design and manufacture their own parts and products, but have now decided to carry out a cost cutting plan with the added pressure of currency appreciation. With big companies like Toshiba, Renesas and Fujitsu in deficit, they needed to increase the percentage of contract manufacturing overseas. No longer can they afford to build new plant, but instead are transferring their businesses to the semiconductor supply chain in Taiwan. TSMC has already successfully secured the orders of 40 nm and 28 nm memory cell from Renesas, Toshiba and Fujitsu.

Not only has the semiconductor industry benefited from the situation, but Taiwan’s LCD flat panel display makers are also getting a welcome boost. Taiwan has long advocated a partnership with Japan to counteract South Korean competition. Japan’s supply chain breakdown has enabled more collaboration between the two countries. Already, Taiwan has entered the supply chain of Japan’s electronics giants such as Sharp and Sony.

Also, Taiwan’s AUO, whose OLED manufacturing technology is about two years behind South Korea’s, will reap benefits by entering into a strategic alliance with Japan’s Idemitsu Group. This move will allow AUO to make up its shortcoming in materials and patent layout by shortening its development cycle. To diversify their risks, more and more Japanese companies want to cooperate with their Taiwanese counterparts, reported Commomwealth.

Fanuc, the largest machine tool manufacturer in the world, increased its investment in Taiwan in 2011 to make mid to lower level CNC controllers. Kuraki also came to Taiwan to invest NT$200 million (US$66 million) to set up its first overseas manufacturing base at Taichung Science Park in central Taiwan.

Eric Chou, chairman of Hiwin Technology Corp., has been studying Japan for 20 years. He said, “the Japanese are very conservative.” His Japanese customers used to place a small order for their machines for fear that it was not precise enough. Even after five or six years, and knowing that Hiwin machines are reliable, they still hesitate to place large orders. Chou said, “But now they can’t hold on anymore due to the appreciation of the Japanese yen.” He added that he noticed orders from Japan starting to grow gradually in February. More and more Japanese companies are thinking of investing in Taiwan to reduce their production and export costs. “Otherwise, Japan’s machine tool manufacturers can’t compete with their German counterparts,” said Chou.

On the anniversary of the Japan’s earthquake, all the reviews of the side effects of the quake point to one thing: Japan and Taiwan will rely more on each other, noted the Commonwealth.

Legislator triggers argument over “leftover women”

On March 22, Legislator Chang Hsiao-feng of the People First Party questioned Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan at the Legislative Yuan on whether the quota to bring foreign wives into Taiwan is reducing a Taiwanese woman’s chances of marrying. Chang said that it is a national loss that suitable Taiwanese women cannot find partners and are relegated to becoming “left-over women” (shen lu). However, Minister Lee replied that the families with foreign spouses usually opt for a spouse from overseas partly as a result of economic difficulties.

The United Evening News reported that many Taiwanese men prefer to marry foreign women because there is a perception that they are more obedient and easy to control, according to Chang. This opinion held by Taiwanese men has resulted in many unmarried Taiwanese women, according to the paper. While the government continues to offer subsidies to foreign spouses, she questioned whether there is a way to subsidize marriageable Taiwanese women who are unable to find a suitable partner. According to Chang, the 460,000 Taiwanese men who marry a foreign woman are responsible for the loss of 460,000 marriage opportunities for Taiwanese women, resulting in the phenomenon of many “left-over women” in Taiwan.

“Left-over women” is a popular term in China to describe single women who are well situated, but for some reason choose not to marry. There are many different reasons for single women not to marry, with some simply not yet having met the ideal partner.

Chang’s remarks immediately triggered a public controversy. The United Daily News reported that Lin Shih-fang, secretary-general of the Awakening Foundation, a women’s rights organization, said that the freedom to marry is a basic human right. It does not matter whether the decision is to marry a foreigner or a Taiwanese national, heterosexual or homosexual; it should not be the concern of government officials or lawmakers. There should be no discrimination against men or women who choose an international marriage.

The Taipei-based China Times commented that the majority of Taiwanese men who marry foreign women are low-wage earners and disadvantaged. They have long been marginalized in Taiwan’s domestic marriage market, and are unlikely to become the ideal partner for “left-over women,” as Chang mentioned, who largely enjoy excellent economic conditions.

Chen Min-min, a reader of the United Daily News commented that there are significant reasons why Taiwanese men and women do not marry despite wanting to do so. The main reason is that most of them do not have a solid economic foundation to marry and raise a family. Legislator Chang should urge the government to map out support programs to help those who would like to get married but feel unable to do so. Furthermore, Chang should ask the government to implement sound counseling assistance to help foreign spouses to better cope with life in Taiwan.

With regard to Chang’s remarks on “left-over women,” 63 percent of internet commentators believe that Taiwanese men should not be responsible for the situation of the “leftover women” in Taiwan, according to the China Times survey. Up to 61 percent of respondents believe that there are many reasons for the oversupply of Taiwanese single women and that it cannot all be blamed on Taiwanese men.

Although 18 percent believe that Chang speaks with good intentions, the feeling is that she has not portrayed the situation accurately, according to the paper. Also, about 14 percent believe that the situation is caused by Taiwanese men not meeting the high expectations of Taiwanese women. As noted by Wu Lulu, one of the web respondents, there is nothing wrong with the “left-over women” who are economically independent and enjoy more freedom. “Legislator Chang is unnecessarily worried,” according to Wu.

NYT columnist Friedman calls Taiwanese “the luckiest people in the world”

In his March 12 New York Times column, Thomas Friedman said that his favorite country, other than the US, is Taiwan. As a country scarce in natural resources, Friedman said that Taiwan has nurtured a people full of talent, energy and intelligence. He commended Taiwan for developing its workforce so it can compete internationally.

During his three visits to Taiwan, he has often told his friends there that “You’re the luckiest people in the world…You have no oil, no iron ore, no forests, no diamonds, no gold, just a few small deposits of coal and natural gas – and because of that you developed the habits and culture of honing your people’s skills, which turns out to be the most valuable and the only truly renewable resource in the world today.”

In order to prove his point, Friedman cited a study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to illustrate the existence of a negative relationship between countries that generate wealth by extracting natural resources and the standard of high school education. The study demonstrated that countries that rely on their natural resources have a less educated population, whereas countries with very few natural resources must focus on nurturing an educated populace.

A three times Pulitzer Prize winner, Friedman’s books The Lexus and Oliver Tree, The World is Flat, and Hot, Flat and Crowded have been translated into Chinese and were bestsellers in Taiwan.

To read the full text of Friedman’s column, please visit the New York Times at:


Film and talk by Taiwanese Owl Researcher on Rare Island Owl in SF, April 26

The Golden Gate Raptor Obervatory present, “Duduwu: The Story of the Orchid Island Scops Owl” – a film and presentaion by Dr. Leucia Severinghause of the Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.

The native people of OrchidIslandonce viewed Duduwu, a small insectivorous owl, as a messenger of the devil, and chased it from their villages. Dr. Severinghaus began studying this little-known Orchid Island Scops Owl, an endemic subspecies, in the mid-1980s. She found the owls so captivating that she spent the next 25 years studying their habits and behaviors. Her research and the publicity about her work have helped changed the attitudes of the people of Orchid Island, and today the owls are the subject of local pride and a focus for ecotourism. Although the Duduwu population was considered endangered a quarter century ago, it is now estimated at more than 5000 owls.

WHERE: GGNRA Headquarters, Bldg 201, UpperFt.Mason,San Francisco, CA. Enter onFranklin atBay Street.

WHEN: Thursday, April 26th, 7 to 9 pm. The event is free and does not require a reservation.

INFO: Call GGRO or email

Why Taiwan Matters

An exhibit that explores the vitality and creativity seen in all aspects of modern Taiwan, from the medical health sector to the ubiquitous convenience stores, from religion to pop music, and from industrial clusters to green technology. This exhibit shares with you Taiwan’s experience of “honing the people’s skills, which turns out to be the most valuable… resource in the world today.” (Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, March 10, 2012).

The 34-piece exhibition has been resized to fit the Chinese Center Exhibit Space, located on the 3rd floor of the San Francisco Main Library (100 Larkin Street). The exhibition will continue until May 24.

Here are some examples of the photos in the exhibition. Please click on the picture to enlarge.