Monday, September 05, 2005

Letter: Taiwan = Third World in a Tuxedo

ere's a letter I got today. I've deleted some criticisms that relate to me personally.


I undertook a preliminary recce of Taiwan last week
for five days. After a few years in Japan, two in
Korea and three in the fairly prosperous Canton
region of China, I must say that I wasn't at all
impressed. Beyond the dubious charms of Taipei, I
found it almost as unsanitary and generally grubby
as the worst parts of the mainland. I would go as
far as to say that the Guangdong and Fujian
provinces here are logistically better equipped and
more socially ordered than most of what I saw in
Taiwan - and that surprised me.

You are right about the work. I took a bus (two,
actually) from Taipei to Taichung and did the
rounds. I was offered two jobs in one day. I'm not
sure how sincere these offers were and I got the
distinct impression that at least one of these
entrepreneurs was lying through his teeth: - "You
will have many hours. You will be very busy" - and
this in a near-empty buxiban at 8pm on a Friday
evening. Mmmmmm.

Taiwan was interesting, but face it - it's the
third-world in a tuxedo.

Good luck with everything.



Anonymous said...

Japan is clean but extremely dull (trust me, I used to live there). The letter writer clearly sustained brain damage due to the gross lack of intellectual stimulation.

China is an emerging economy and therefore has some exciting elements. That is, if you are not afraid of getting mugged at every corner or if you are happy to do without opinions.

Taiwan on the other hand, can be a most-exciting place to be. It is a vibrant democracy that is trying to find its identity after years of oppression/suppression. To those in the know, this is the Golden Age. It does have its share of 'third world' problems, but it's to be expected after decades of Chinese oppression/corruption.

Give it time. Or don't. Taiwan could do without people like the letter writer.

Anonymous said...

As grubby as the worst parts of the mainland? This person has clearly never been to the worst parts of the mainland.

Jonathan Benda said...

After spending the last week reading the news of the post-Katrina fiasco, I'd be tempted to say the U.S. is the third world in a cowboy hat.

Anonymous said...

hah, random surfed to your site.
i think, every single country in the world, shares problems same to those of third worlds' is simply nOt possible for a place to be perfect, without human inequality, uneven distribution of incomes and ...omg. i forgot the main one i was going to say..uhm, well, OH, yes, as i was saying, every single country in the world, must suffer from some 'trait' of third world problem, i think, "third world problems" is just...a sum of all the bad qualitites..? anyway, i was going to mention poverty. now dont tell me theres nobody sufferin' from "FIRST" world countries!

haha sorry for the 'attitude'...i really love taiwan, thats all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, thanks for the comment on my site!

I'm just left wondering what parts of the third world the letter writer has been to. The addition of a tuxedo would not make a hell of a lot of countries in the world like Taiwan.

Mark said...

Well... on one hand I can see where he's coming from. Taiwan's time in the sun has passed. It will never again be the magnet it once was for Chinese students, business men or venture capitalists.

On the other hand, Taiwan was a lot closer to "third world" back then. The truly exciting economies of today, such as China and India, are a lot closer to third world than Taiwan is, too. In fact, right now Taiwan's economy is comparable to Australia's. That's not too bad for a country that's only 1/236th as big!

Aside from that, I also feel that compared to much of Asia, and Korea in particular, Taiwan is a very open and friendly place.