Sunday, June 09, 2013

And now for a lighter moment: Greater Taichung Named Intelligent Community of 2013

Digging for the fuel of Taiwan's domestic political economy: gravel.

After a long day of riding in the hills of eastern Miaoli -- the bike gods gave us lovely weekend weather this week -- I cracked open the Taipei Times to find this tale: Greater Taichung Named Intelligent Community of 2013. As a longtime Taichung resident, at first I thought someone had spiked my wine with something stronger, but then gradually I realized I wasn't hallucinating. The article said...
It said Taichung, boasting a sound infrastructure, represented a good combination of technology and cultural development.

“The rise of Taichung over the past decade has been a well-planned, unwavering act of collaborative team-building under the vision of Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強),” ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla said in a statement.
I thought of other articles:
Taichung's convenient geographic location and the business-friendly environment has made the central city a favored location for organized criminal gangs to set up operational bases....
...and of course, the May 2013 poll which named Tainan as the best city in which to live, whereas the Intelligent Communityof 2013 came in 17th. I thought the last part of the award announcement was especially sweet....
The ICF said a relatively low jobless rate of 4.4 percent and annual economic output of US$30 billion are part of Taichung’s success.

“This city understands that a great place to live is not one that only dominates world export markets in areas such as precision manufacturing, machinery and silicon wafer production, but goes to the next level and becomes a great cultural center,” Zacharilla said.

Liao said some judges had told her that they were impressed by Taichung’s ability to integrate technology and culture, which made technological advancement not just an impersonal development, but a driver for a higher living standard.
There's so much you can say about this. For example, the city's annexation of Taichung County in December of 2010 meant that it annexed all the SMEs that form the base of the precision manufacturing in the "city" -- companies whose development had zero, zip, nada to do with Mayor Hu (hey, what's unemployment in all those mountain communities of "Greater Taichung" again?). Speaking of unemployment rate, look up the stats -- Taiwan's overall unemployment rate is about 4.2%, which means that Taichung is actually marginally underperforming (look at the unemployment data for 2012, when the city was likely applying). Well-planned? I don't want to discuss that, it would make me urk up dinner. But a "great cultural center"? If anyone told me that this city was a great cultural center, I'd get him out of the sun, which was obviously affecting his brain. Remember when Mayor Hu destroyed the city's authentic and awesome music scene by shuttering 300 bars and restaurants which had been improperly registered (...for years under his benign rule). Here's a piece I wrote a couple of years ago on the politics of the city, and how Hu's performance had negatively affected KMT presidential election chances in the area....

It's odd because Taoyuan County was one of the seven finalists, and if you had to pick a place in Taiwan with a roaring economy, plenty of authentic culture, and lots of newly-built infrastructure, Taoyuan beats Taichung hands down. For culture there's nothing in Taichung to compare with Daxi or Taoyuan's historical pond system....

REF: here is the actual announcement, whose disconnect from reality approaches a kind of lyricism.
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9 comments:

Okami said...

How much did Taichung pay or threaten the judges with to get that designation?

It could just be there turn to get it. You know how these things work.

Anonymous said...

except that yingge is in new taipei city...

but nice post anyway

1stCMalaysia said...

What is the historical pond system you refer to?

1stCMalaysia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jenna Cody said...

A sound infrastructure?! You can't go anywhere on anything but your own transportation! I wouldn't call that sound infrastructure.

Michael Turton said...

Pond system is outlined in this post here: Ponds of Taoyuan

MJ Klein said...

does the criminal element in Taichung qualify as culture?

Michael Turton said...

A sound infrastructure?! You can't go anywhere on anything but your own transportation! I wouldn't call that sound infrastructure.

Yeah, I can't imagine what they were thinking to have said anything that silly. I'd love to have seen the city's application form. It must be highly...um... creative.

Michael

Anonymous said...

The application form was probably placed in a Hong Bao envelope.

There are lots of these one man 'international competition' companies making handsome profits from Asian and Middle Eastern cities desperate need to 'win' something and be validated for their God awful urban planning and lack of culture or history.

Even better when they give out the awards in a place like New York or London which justifies the City admin and various hangers-on to 'attend' the award ceremon.y