Written by Hsu Hung Bin.The history of doctor outflow in Taiwan tells us that doctors of all eras are continually reflecting on what it means to be in the medical profession and what the “good life” of a doctor is. The unique history of Taiwan’s medical system is an essential resource as we come to reflect on the issues of today. This history reminds about the diverse sets of values (not all of which have been good) that have existed within the system. It also provides clues of what a new system might look like.
Written by Hsu Hung Bin. The phrase “五大皆空” (all the key fields are lacking) has become common, referring to the lack of doctors in internal medicine, surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics and emergency care. There has also been discussion of the net outflow of doctors from Taiwan. All of this brought doubts to the once hopeful students as they began their medical education. I often hear students asking questions like “is the medical system here really going to collapse?” “Do we have to leave Taiwan and start a new life abroad?” “Did I make the right choice for my career”?
Written by Bonny Ling. Taiwan continues to be dogged by cases of extrajudicial killing, violating the fundamental human right to life, liberty, and security of person. A recent prominent case is the killing of a young Vietnamese migrant worker, Nguyen Quoc Phi, in August 2017 by a novice police officer in Hsinchu. The killing of Nguyen, immortalised in the two Taiwanese documentaries of the same name “Nine Shots” by Su Che-hsien and Tsai Tsung-lung, was marked by police brutality. The title is a reference to the number of bullets fired by the police officer in mere 12 seconds, killing an unarmed and unclothed Nguyen.
Written by Chih-Wei Chen. In recent decades, the world is facing increasingly severe challenges caused by climate change, natural disasters, worldwide public health issues, and so on. To combat the challenges, the United Nations officially launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 and advocated that all countries around the world endeavour to cooperate to achieve the goals. On the other hand, the advent of the digital era and the rapid development of digital technologies, such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), have provided new opportunities for people to implement sustainable development measures.
Taiwanese families look different than they did a couple of decades ago. Partnering behaviours have changed substantially, with young people increasingly choosing to postpone marriage and parenthood. The mean age of first marriage has risen to 32.6 for men and 30.4 for women as of 2019. Gains in opportunities outside of marriage – together with the increasing costs of raising children – mean that the traditional male-breadwinner family has lost its appeal to young women. This is especially the case for well-educated women. Even though the total fertility rate (TFR) has fallen at a rapid pace over the past few decades, childbirth remains strongly associated with marriage.
Written by Yen-hsin Alice Cheng. While family and social values are gradually becoming more liberal, more substantial changes in socially acceptable behaviours require more time. Hence, in addition to policies promoting childbearing, the Taiwanese Government should also consider how to sustain or improve citizens well-being, regardless of their union status, in an ultra-low fertility context. Research on the obstacles to fertility in East Asia mostly studied the married population, yet obstacles to marriage among the single population are perhaps equally important in this region.
Written by Pei-Chia Lan. My recent book, Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US, started with a puzzle: Why do Taiwanese parents nowadays face even more intensified pressure, anxiety, and uncertainty, despite their expanded access to cultural resources, market services, and global mobility in comparison with the earlier generations?
Written by Ji-Ping Lin. Although ethnic integration had played a crucial role in promoting ethnic harmony, ethnic relations in Taiwan was typified by hates” outweighing “loves.” Nevertheless, such a situation changes in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Indeed, Taiwan’s political, socioeconomic, and cultural systems began experiencing several fundamental transitions; a transition from authoritarian to democratic polity, from a planned economy to globalised one, and from close to open and multi-culturalism society.
Written by Isabelle Cheng. [Migrant] men can’t produce babies, but women can. We can’t allow foreigners to give birth in Taiwan and breed more foreigners […] It is indeed inhumane to repatriate a pregnant woman. However, even permitted to give birth in Taiwan, she and her child would have to be deported eventually. It is even more inhumane to break her family and separate the child from the [Taiwanese] father after they’ve developed bonds (the Legislative Yuan, 17 April 1992, Taipei).
Written by Milo Hsieh. To what degree is race-based discrimination an issue in Taiwan? The answer may differ depending on those asked. To the World Health Organization Director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus—who was made into an effigy by anonymous Taiwanese comic artists in April over the WHO’s continued exclusion of Taiwan—yes, Taiwan’s government allegedly sponsored racist attacks against him. One the other hand, to the group of Taiwanese influencers—who came under attack later in June after wearing blackface to imitate the dancing coffins viral video—no, as clearly many in Taiwan overreacted.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. When the impact of COVID-19 was at its height in Asia this April, the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, publicly accused Taiwan of continuously attacking him with racist slurs for months. Although these accusations have been proven to be false, with the ongoing Black Live Matters campaign taking place, it does give a good opportunity to reflect on whether racism exists in Taiwan. More importantly, how this contributes to the formation of Taiwan’s identity in the contemporary epoch.
Written by Brian Hioe. Over the past four years, it has become a refrain of the Tsai administration to tout Taiwan’s increasing diversity. Namely, given increased immigration to Taiwan from Southeast Asia, one in ten children in Taiwan has a foreign parent. This is a fact that Tsai and members of her administration have taken to frequently citing, often during occasions in which Taiwan is visible on the international stage.