Taiwan: I Told You

In a previous post (HERE, at the end of) I mentioned about the fact that it is not healthy for a president to be the chairman of a political party.

I DO believe that the President is the President of all the population. Not just a part of the population.

I DO believe it’s not good if the President becomes the chairman of his party during his mandate. Whatever the country. See in South America… Or in Europe a while ago…

Because the coming elections in Taiwan (next Saturday), the president (Ma) is campaigning everywhere, but officially as the Chairman of the KMT party.

So, do you believe that the election is fair?

Especially when he is promising something which could only be achieved as a president? Which maybe will never be done? For the Taiwanese, think about the “bridge”… 🙂

Obviously as a president he is making the elections unfair.

See HERE:

[…]

DPP officials complained yesterday that security measures for President Ma on his trips to campaign for KMT candidates were disruptive and unfair

[…]

Of course the President of a Country must have protection.

But if this protection is working against opposition parties during democratic events, we may think that there is a problem.

I don’t know. Just a thought…

What do you think?

Do I think too much?

Am I wrong?

 

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Taiwan: Sausage Never Attracted Bees

I posted just 3 days ago about Education and courses taught in English in Taiwan (HERE) and the risk for Taiwan to lose its competitiveness (if any).

According a survey by the Taiwan News (published yesterday HERE), less than 10% of Universities update monthly their English websites.

And they want to attract foreign students?

If for them, the target is students from China, I believe it’s fine.

Otherwise…

Here is an excerpt:

[…]

Out of 166 schools, 88.6 percent have an English-language web site, but only 9.6 percent add fresh content once a month, the survey found.

Only 7.8 percent of the school sites offer an English-language search function, according to the survey.

The results of the poll seemed to show a large gap with the strengthening of Taiwan’s international competitiveness advocated by President Ma Ying-jeou.

Only seven schools came up with the full package, an English-language web site with regular monthly updates and an English-language search function.

National Chiao Tung University, National Central University, National Yang Ming University, National Taiwan University of Technology, Taipei National University of the Arts, National Formosa University and Asia University

[…]

I don’t know about the details concerning the survey, but from the published poll, the results are alarming…Even though that is an “old news” for foreign academics working here.

The main explanation as I am an insider, is (I do believe it) the budget allowed for it (homepage maintenance).

But still… You do not attract bees with sausage…

 

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You Don’t Know About Tax? Or You Complain About Rich People Benefiting From Tax Cut? So… Read

I was having lunch with one of my favorite friends last week – a very liberal college professor – and the conversation turned to the government’s recent round of tax cuts.

"I’m opposed to those tax cuts," the Professor declared, "because they benefit the rich.

The rich get much more money back than ordinary taxpayers like you and me and that’s not fair."

"But the rich pay more in the first place," I argued, "so it stands to reason they’d get more money back." I could tell that my friend was unimpressed by this meager argument. So I said to him, let’s put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand:

Suppose that every day 10 men go to a restaurant for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100.

If it was paid the way we pay our taxes:

The first four men paid nothing;

The fifth paid $1;

The sixth paid $3;

The seventh $7;

The eighth $12;

The ninth $18.

The tenth man (the richest) paid $59.

The 10 men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until the owner threw them a curve.

Since you are all such good customers, he said, I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.

Now, dinner for the 10 only costs $80. The first four are unaffected. They still eat for free.

Can you figure out how to divide up the $20 savings among the remaining six so that everyone gets his fair share?

The men realize that $20 divided by 6 is $3.33, but if they subtract that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal.

The restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same percentage, being sure to give each a break, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so now:

Along with the first four, the fifth man paid nothing,

The sixth pitched in $2,

The seventh paid $5,

The eighth paid $9,

The ninth paid $12,

Leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of $59.

Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings, "I only got a dollar out of the $20," complained the sixth man, pointing to the tenth, "and he got $7!"

"Yeah, that’s right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar,too.

It’s unfair that he got seven times more than me!"

"That’s true," shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2?

The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men. "We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor."

Then, the nine men surrounded the tenth man (the richest one, paying the most) and beat him up.

The next night the richest man didn’t show up for dinner, so now the nine men sat down and ate without him.

But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something very important. They
were $52 short!

And now people and college professors, this is how the world’s tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table any more.

I got this story from Internet a while ago, but I don’t remember from where.

Anyway, the copyright belongs to who ever wrote it before.

But I really like it even though we could argue about the calculations (at the end).

The basic principle of efficiency is respected (how to cut the pie vs. the size of the pie).

Love it, and you?

🙂

 

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Taiwan: About Education and Other Topics

Since few weeks, people are talking about attracting more foreign students in Taiwan and developing more classes taught in English.

Frankly speaking, there are not so many full programs taught in English in Taiwan, so attracting students from Europe and Americas is a real challenge (I am not referring to students learning Mandarin).

Beside, it seems according some comments I read that many students complain about the quality of the existing teaching. Hard to verify.

Anyway, when he was talking about foreign students, Ma (president of Taiwan) mentioned more than once “Chinese students”.

So we don’t need to be surprised by the announcement from the government to recognize the diplomas offered by 41 Chinese Universities. I remember that not a so long time ago (weeks or months), it was out of question to do so… A detail… Let’s forget about it.

As some already said and/or wrote, “it’s easier to continue teaching in Chinese than forcing professors to teach in English”.

I may add that attracting foreign professors is not an easy task either.

When the announcement was made, the DPP (opposition political party) said that it disagreed and the decision from the government could jeopardize the rights of Taiwanese students.

From that point, I have some reflections and questions:

1 – Maybe I don’t understand the consequences about recognizing 41 Chinese Universities (? 🙂 ) but I don’t see how and why the rights of Taiwanese students may be jeopardized. The DPP should be more specific and stop to just criticize if it doesn’t want to lose its credibility.

2 – But yes, if many very good students are coming to Taiwan (not just 10 or 20), for sure a lot of Taiwanese students will be in trouble: they will have to face competition and will need to work more or change their “occupations”.

3 – Yes, a lot of Universities or colleges in China are far to be at the international level (but it’s the same for Taiwan, no?) and I don’t know the details about those 41 Universities. Still, it’s not a reason to systematically downgrade Chinese Universities. Some are really very good: Beida (Beijing University), Tsinghua University, Fudan University or Shanghai Jiao Tong University, just to name some. The famous Finance professor and Chinese specialist Michael Pettis will of course agree (he is teaching in Beida).

4 – There are of course good Universities in Taiwan and good professors too. But as anyone knows, there are too many Universities and colleges: more than 180 for a country large as (roughly) Belgium. Can you believe it?

I believe Taiwan should think about Schumpeter and and his “Creative Destruction”!

5 – Now, let’s talk about quality (of students and professors): if the Ministry of Education does not change its policy soon, the best students and professors will go abroad. See for example the policies of South Korea, Hong Kong or Singapore Universities.

If Taiwan doesn’t adapt to the new challenges, it will lose for ever its competitive advantage (if any).

6 – Again, about quality: which kind of students Taiwan wants to attract from China? The very good students (and there are a lot, given the highly competitive environment) are going to USA or Europe. If they don’t have enough money or if they want to stay in Asia, they receive a lot of financial incentives from some of the best Universities – see for example what are offering Universities in HKG. And the reputation of Taiwanese Universities (most of) is far behind.

So question: why the good students from China will come to Taiwan?

One more question: if Taiwan does not attract the good Chinese students, who will come? The bad students? The troublesome students?

If yes, what will be the consequences here about the quality?

7 – According the government, undergraduate Chinese students can only go to private Universities and graduated will join the public Universities.

Why?

8 – Still according the government, when Chinese students will join the public Universities here, they will have to pay the same tuition fees than in private Universities (higher compare to the public).

Why?

That is how the government wants to attract students?

Let’s change the topic.

The president Ma is also the chairman of his political party (KMT). I do not believe that is good for the democracy. I thought the same when his predecessor became the chairman of the now opposition party (DPP).

In Europe it also happened in the past and I of course disagreed.

The president is supposed to be the president of all the population.

When he makes decisions or whatever, where is the precise line between the president and chairman jobs?

See the picture:

PHOTO: CNA

Ma (right) is chanting election slogans with the party’s candidate for Hsinchu County commissioner, Chiu Ching-chung.

I don’t know. Maybe I am thinking too much. But I believe that president and party chairman positions should be hold by different people.

Another topic: how decisions are made.

Recently, some decisions just came out of nowhere, as the rabbit from the magician top hat.

See the decision about the Chinese Universities. I am not against it but I thought that some transparency may be useful.

See about the beef story: everything but transparent. One day, the government just open the doors for the US beef without any debate. I don’t say that the US beef is bad. I just say that the way the decision was made could be different.

See about the financial MOU with China: the one in charge (in Taiwan) said before the lawmakers that the MOU will not be signed if the official titles are not mentioned. Few hours later, we learnt that the MOU was signed… Without the official titles…

Many questions and very few answers…

 

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I Am Grading

Sorry for this week. No time to blog.

It’s the midterm exam week and I am grading now. So blogging will make me feel guilty 😉

image

Today, 2 exams… About 100 students to grade.

Tomorrow, 2 more exams but only about 50 students.

And then, need to upload the grades.

And then… need to upload the proposed answers.

Econometrics is OK, just the time to handle the data. Easy stuff, an introduction to the understanding of Econometrics.

Economics, Global Investment, International Finance are taking more time.

Many news made me want to react… but no time…

Anyway, long life to Taiwan 🙂

image

Cheers 😆

 

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Taiwan: Populism or Nationalism?

Lawmakers are now running after what it’s called “foreign fat cats”: foreign people with a high salary (for Taiwanese standards).

The target is now the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC).

A legislator asked (see HERE) “asked to the company’s spokesperson what the company would do with two foreign managers whose yearly salary exceeded NT$10 million (US$309,600) each”.

The idea behind that question seems to be: can their job been done by Taiwanese nationals?

We are talking about a very specific industry and activity.

I am maybe naive, but as far as I know, not so much countries are specialized in high speed train: France, Germany, Japan.

Does Taiwan has the expertise?

Of course not.

That remind me the speech in some countries from the right wing.

We use to call that populism and/or nationalism.

I don’t know about you, but I was quite surprised by the above question asked by a legislator.

Beside, USD 309,600 per year for a top manager…

In western countries, no top managers would work for that amount.

It’s about Euro 200,000.

Obviously, some people have no idea of what they are talking about.

But in few weeks, there are key elections…

Always a good time for populism and nationalism.

 

 

Who Can Believe That Taiwan’s Eldorado Is China?

Since one year, it’s clear for the observers that Taiwan (the administration in charge)  is putting all its eggs in the Chinese basket.

At the beginning, it was quite discreet but now, it’s totally obvious.

Even state-owned companies are joining the move.

The state-owned Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corp (TTL) ignored the World Games in Kaohsiung and gave just NT$400,000 (about USD 12,000) to the Deaflympics in Taipei.

It seems to be official now (HERE) TTL will sponsor the Asian Games in Guangzhou (China) in November next year.

How mush will be given?

The announced figure is 100 million Yuan (about USD 15,000,000)!

…15 million American dollars… Taxpayers’ money…

The official reason is to promote “Taiwan Excellence”. Obviously, they are very selective when it comes to choose which “excellence” must be promoted. Not even a cent was given to the Taiwanese golf champion who tried earlier this year, to host a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament in Taiwan.

If China is involved, the selection seems more simple for them.

But Taiwan needs more than China.

On November 9, Derek Scissors from The Heritage Foundation published a memo about it (HERE).

Some interesting excerpts:

[…]

Taiwan’s economic strategy must encompass other fundamental needs as well: internal economic restructuring and the cultivation of new and dynamic foreign relationships beyond the Straits.

As an investment, China is moving from a "growth" stock to a "value" stock. In terms of raw growth, the days of 14 percent GDP gains in the ’90s and 12 percent GDP gains earlier this decade are gone, to be replaced (after the post-crisis bounce) by long-term growth of about 8 percent annually. And that is if all goes well.

Specifically, the PRC’s successful globalization means there are fewer opportunities left for Taiwanese companies. In the 1980s, the mainland desperately needed intermediaries to connect more fully to the outside world. That is no longer the case.

Beyond China, a central Taiwanese motivation in negotiating ECFA is to secure access to trade pacts involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with which the island has considerable economic ties. But there is no guarantee, even with an ECFA, that China will tolerate ASEAN extending such pacts to Taiwan. Further, the Taiwanese economic relationship with ASEAN shares the critical feature of the cross-straits relationship: a current lack of dynamism.

Other options should therefore be cultivated. In particular, Taiwan should seek partners poised for a period of especially rapid growth, better positioned to achieve rapid gains from fresh globalization, and in greater need of Taiwanese technology and service industries.

An obvious candidate is India.

Recommendations

  • Taiwan should undertake a set of domestic economic reforms aimed at spurring efficiency and growth prior to, or coincident with, the implementation of steps toward more open cross-straits trade and investment.
  • Taiwan should ensure that its regulations, taxes, and international economic agreements do not artificially divert trade and investment toward the mainland or any East Asian bloc at the expense of India or other promising partners.

Cross-straits liberalization is valuable, but it is only one arrow in the quiver. More needs to be done to bolster Taiwan’s economic future.

[…]

So obviously, the key word is “strategy”.

Putting all the eggs in the Chinese basket cannot be called a strategy.