OPINION: Taiwan’s Traditional Thinking Hinders Its Plans for Economic Innovation

Taiwan wants to leap into the future of global tech innovation. It must start by addressing questions over the legacy of its authoritarian past.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/04/10
By: Milo Hsieh

Credit: Depositphotos

As the concept of Industry 4.0 increasingly comes in play, Taiwan’s government has pointed to several objectives it intends to achieve in following this race to integrate newer technologies and adapt to the changing global economic condition. Though the National Development Council has laid out an ambitious strategy to make Taiwan’s economy one based on innovation and entrepreneurship, in the model of the Silicon Valley, the progress is a slow one that would require time and effort.

But is the environment in Taiwan really conducive in cultivating talents and new ideas?

At the forefront of all issues is Taiwan’s low wages. For the past 10 years after the 2008-9 global recession, Taiwan’s wages have remained stagnant despite rising costs of living. The infamous “22K,” reflective of a wage level of NT$22,000 (less than US$750) per month, was seared into the minds of college graduates at this time. (Taiwan’s monthly minimum wage was raised to NT$23,100 on Jan. 1, 2019.)

The direct result of this is “brain drain.” With opportunities abroad, there is no reason for the best and brightest of Taiwan – and those who could afford to afford a foreign degree – to return to the island looking for a job. They could simply remain competitive in a job market outside of Taiwan and earn several times the wage of what they would earn in Taiwan. Thus the innovation generated by Taiwanese, developed by those at the forefront of industries, simply did not happen at home most of the time.    [FULL  STORY]

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