Written by Adhiraaj Anand. The Biden administration has put aside billions of dollars to improve semiconductor manufacturing capabilities in the US, whose global output fell from 37% in 1990 to 12% in 2020. Additionally, the EU Chips Act, proposed in 2022, seeks to make Europe a leader in semiconductor technology and maintain a secure supply of chips by increasing the continent’s market share in the semiconductor industry to 20% by 2030. Japan has similarly unveiled a strategy to promote indigenous semiconductor manufacturing to achieve a 40% global market share in next-generation power semiconductors, which are to be used in emerging technologies such as electric vehicles, by the end of the decade.
Min-Hua Chiang examines the growth of Taiwan’s robust ICT industry. China was considered a potentially important competitor to Taiwan’s ICT firms a few years ago. However, China’s effort to reduce its reliance on importing key components was unsuccessful. In July 2021, Tsinghua Unigroup, a state-backed semiconductor manufacturer, filed a bankruptcy request. Chinese chip industry only took 7.6% of total global semiconductor sales. Its equipment and materials for production are still limited to older technologies. The American government has been encouraging manufacturing production at home to reduce imports of key components from overseas. Nevertheless, the high labour cost and lack of qualified workers in the semiconductor industry will make it difficult to reduce its reliance on Taiwan. The greater US-China competition in the high technology industry is only likely to increase the superpowers’ dependence on Taiwan’s semiconductor industry.
Written by Bonny Ling. Last year, on Human Rights Day marking the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December by the UN General Assembly, Taiwan’s executive branch of the government (Executive Yuan 行政院) released the Taiwan National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) (臺灣企業與人權國家行動計畫). The Action Plan was celebrated, with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) enthusiastically describing it as “aid[ing] Taiwan’s efforts to become integrated in international trade and supply chains.”
Written by Lotta Danielsson. For the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan served as a brilliant example of how best to handle the crisis. Leaning on its experiences during the 2003 SARS epidemic, Taiwan received glowing reviews for its protective measures. Stories about long stays in quarantine hotels and the vigilant surveillance of arriving travellers spread widely online. Donations of high-quality protective gear served as public relations opportunities, culminating with “Made in Taiwan” facemasks worn at the White House. Photos from a crowded live concert in Taipei elicited envy from those still in semi-lockdown elsewhere.
Written by Min-hua Chiang. Taiwan government revised up economic growth forecast in 2021 to 5.5% in June despite the sudden surge of covid-19 cases since mid-May. This is the fastest growth path since and second only to the post-crisis rebound in 2010 (see Figure 1). The economy is bolstered by thriving exports outlook. Growing domestic investment is another anchor of Taiwan’s economy thanks to the continuous investment repatriation. The greater government consumption is expected to offset the potential fall in private consumption following the constraints on outdoor activities. Taiwan Centres for Disease Control (CDC)’s capability to put the domestic outbreak under control in a month further gives confidence that moderate economic growth this year could be expected.
Written by Lotta Danielsson. The Taiwan economy fared well in 2020 and continues to do so into early 2021. This is primarily due to strong domestic demand, robust technology exports driven by the global shift to remote work, and a rebound in export orders for industrial goods. According to recent figures released by its national statistics bureau, Taiwan’s economic growth in 2020 was 2.98%, outperforming China’s same-year growth of 2.3% for the first time in 30 years.
Written By William Kung 孔德廉. Regarding the dramatic changes brought about by the “spinach industry,” Wang Weiren, an old overseas Chinese who has lived in the Philippines for 60 years, described it as “locusts crossing the border.” Although the gambling industry has helped drive obvious GDP growth in the Philippines, the economic gains have not been shared by the public at large. Instead, it has been concentrated in the hands of a few Chinese business owners. Not only that, a large number of Chinese ethnic groups in the industry are not prepared to integrate into the local area. Instead, they are reluctant to change their ways and prone to conflict with the locals. If China and the Philippines were ever to join forces to crack down on illegal businesses, the first thing to bear would be the Philippine economy, which is currently overly dependent on the gambling industry.
Written By Willian Kung. Ten years ago, Many Chinese, Malaysians, and Indonesians left their hometowns and moved to the Philippines to chase the gold rush triggered by online gambling. In recent years, the latest wave has attracted many Taiwanese. According to statistics from the Philippine Immigration Bureau, in 2018, more than 200,000 Chinese workers applied for work visas, 90% related to online casinos. There are also many Taiwanese living in the Philippines. In 2016, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines issued a message stating “recently, there has been an increasing number of Taiwanese people going to the Philippines to work in the gambling industry, please be wary that risks often outweigh the rewards. Many have had their passports detained.”
Written by Guo-Huei Chen, Ming-En Hsiao and Li-Ke Chang. The semiconductor industry is strategic to national security and critical to international connections in the high tech and techno-geopolitics era. In regard to tech, along with strategic competitions between America and China, Taiwan is at the frontline for its supply chains and geopolitics.
Written by Ian Inkster. The world is nowhere near getting over the COVID pandemic. Whether referring to the possibilities of mutations of the virus itself or to the transformations, reactions and perhaps resistances of the national populations who are being continuously coerced or persuaded into adherence to often dubious and motley official regulations, most commentators and analysts think we are either within or entering a strong second cycle of contagion and mortality.
Written by Erik Mobrand. Assessments of the state of corruption in Taiwan show wildly diverging conclusions. Corruption scandals break out regularly, seeming to keep the island in a series of emergencies. At the same time, global surveys laud Taiwanese authorities for successfully fighting corruption. If Taiwan is so clean, why do corruption scandals happen? Or, if corruption scandals are so regular, how can Taiwan be assessed as an anti-corruption success story?
Written by Kyoung M. Shin and Chan-Yuan Wong. As the initial shockwave ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to subsiding, it is imperative to start a more nuanced discussion about pertinent public policies. Even in countries such as Taiwan, who have thus far proven to be relatively more successful in stemming the tide, the government is still emphasising economic re-opening. It is often touted across the globe that Taiwan has been one of the more, if not the most, successful countries in combating COVID-19—and rightfully so. As of October 1, 2020, there has been a total of only 514 documented cases in Taiwan, most of which have been “imported.” While most countries around the world are still struggling to cope with the coronavirus, there has been no report of domestically contracted case in Taiwan since mid-April.