Monday, September 22, 2014

Why Taiwan Nationalism Exists

Heron now.

The Taipei Times reports on the regional disparities in the central government development budget:
According to the Ministry of Finance, Taipei is to receive NT$36.3 billion (US$1.2 billion), averaging NT$10 billion more than the New Taipei City and Greater Kaohsiung, which have larger populations than Taipei.

Taipei would receive an average of NT$13,500 per resident, almost double the amount per resident in New Taipei City, Yilan, Changhua and Hsinchu counties.

According to Ministry of Finance, fund distribution next year — not including a special overall planning fund — is estimated at NT$225 billion, a NT$17.3 billion increase from last year.

A total of NT$205 billion is to be distributed among 22 local governments, with NT$19.4 billion to be shared among townships, the ministry data said.

The five special municipalities and Taoyuan County, which is due to become the nation’s sixth special municipality on Dec. 25, are to receive more than NT$145.6 billion of the fund, the data showed.
The essence of colonialism is that it is extractive. The colonizer extracts resources from the colonized population and transfers them back to its own people. In the Taiwan case, that is Taipei sucking resources out of the south and spending them on the heavily pro-KMT city. This arrangement is one reason why Taipei people vote for the KMT year after year -- it results in concrete lifestyle benefits. The amazing metro system in Taipei is possible only because people in Pingtung and Chiayi are starved for development funds they need.

Why do the South and Center feel colonized? Simple: resources go out, but they don't come back. In recent years several cities have upgraded to the municipality level to gain a greater share of the nation's development resources. Currently the Act Governing the Allocation of revenues calls for 43% of revenue to go to special municipalities (Taipei, New Taipei, K-town, Taichung, and Tainan) and 57% to everywhere else. One reason the north gets away with more is that when Tainan and Taichung upgraded, they merged the city proper with the surrounding county, meaning that they got only modest total increases in funds, since the county and city had separate funding. New Taipei City, however, was not required to merge with anything, meaning that New Taipei City saw real increases in development funding, and the north continues to dominate in development funding.

As you can see, Taipei continues to retain more than its share, and yet as a center of headquarters, government, and finance, it produces nothing tradeable, just services (nearly half the nation's services are produced in Taipei). The real work of Taiwan takes place elsewhere, with Kaohsiung and Taoyuan (due to be upgraded to a municipality this year) producing nearly a third of the nation's industrial production. The independence sentiment so strong in central and southern Taiwan is the direct result of this transfer of resources out of the productive regions of Taiwan into Taipei. Note that Greater Kaohsiung's population is larger than Taipei's but it gets a smaller amount of development funding than Taipei.

This is why the DPP has consistently attempted to move government functions, and the government itself, out of Taipei and elsewhere. Just this year the Ma Administration recalled the Fisheries Agency to Taipei...
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Anonymous said...

very interesting, isn't this always the opposite in other countries? meaning London and NYC pay for social services in poorer regions?

Jenna Cody said...

No. In New York City a lot of taxes that are technically state-level go to maintaining the subway, and the rest of the state gets shafted and as a result has terrible, or no, public transportation infrastructure.

Sometimes the state swipes back. Why was the Tappan Zee bridge built on a very wide stretch of the Hudson, a stretch so long that the bridge itself is unstable and people avoid driving it, certain that there will eventually be a disaster? Why not just a few miles south, where the river narrows considerably?

Because the Port Authority, which handles transit in New York City, gets the revenues from all tolls collected south of a certain line in tri-state New York, even though I am pretty sure at least part of that line is outside the New York City limits, and those revenues go towards New York City transit infrastructure.

Sick of getting shafted, tri-state New York builds as much as it can outside that line, even when it is inconvenient to do so.

I know a lot of NYC people feel that their metro system is important enough to merit this payout, and I agree, it is, but upstate does help pay for it (and upstate is not that poor in every area - no sense making them out to be backwards hicks).

On the other hand, upstate NY has a bad tendency to take transportation funding and use it to build more car-only infrastructure, not public transit. So it is arguably less useful upstate because it doesn't improve the lives of anyone who doesn't have/doesn't want/can't afford/isn't allowed to/doesn't know how to/is too old or disabled to drive a car.

It's a tough call. Life in Taipei would be so much worse if we didn't have the excellent metro system. We NEED that metro system, we really do. I wasn't here before it existed, but I've heard the horror stories. It's true that we get an unfair percentage of funding, but we can't not have the great system.

If Taipei didn't have the MRT system it does, I'm not sure I'd still be living here. My top two reasons for choosing a place to live are good public transit - I will not drive! - and health care. Take one away, and I'm out.

Mike Fagan said...

Basically yes: much of the rest of England is dependent upon London, which is in turn dependent upon State supported hyperfinance.

Scottish nationalism may also be partly consequent to the fact that Scotland (and much of the north of England) has lost its industry, and the people are therefore left with no choice but to leave for other shores or stay and shout and scream about the Tories.