SDGs in Taiwan
About the Author
Taiwanese. Raised in Taipei, capital of Taiwan. Worked as architect, artist, interpreter, marketer, but most importantly, an MBA candidate in Doshisha Business School.
Taiwan is a tiny island located in Asian Pacific area. However, the GDP is growing every year for its high-volume of export sales. In 2017, Taiwan reached 5.8 billion in GDP. (See Chart 1.) We can also see there’s a growth every year. According the tradingeconomics.com, the largest potion of the export includes industrial industry and service industry. Taiwan is recently dedicating in tourism, banking and high technological product. Due to its special political situation and strategic position in the Asian Pacific area, Taiwan is looking forward to have another economic plunge in the near future.
Taiwan has a huge economic growth since 1960s. Same as many other Asian countries, Taiwans was originally an agricultural society. However, due to the special position in Asian Pacific area, Taiwan has transformed its industry into industrial and service sectors since 1950s.
1950s Industrial Import Substitution
Taiwan used to be a labor-intensive country in the 1950s which produce textile, bicycles, and shoes due to the policy in 1950s advocated Taiwanese labor to replace imported goods with domestic products. With this policy Taiwan is able to join the international market in terms of foreign trade. This established a great basis for the following history of
export-oriented era in 1960s.
Owing to the success in the previous stage, Taiwan is able to use its comparative advantage with the labor-intensive products. However, in 1960s the government advocated people to upgrade the industrial products. Some export processing zones
were established. The export processing zones served as a platform for transforming raw materials into a processed good to export to foreign countries. The process helped Taiwan with a wholesomely upgrade of not only hardwares but also softwares, paving a successful path for the next stage of industrial transformation.
1970s Ten Major Construction Projects
The ex-president of Taiwan, Jingguo Jiang, passed a legislation for industrial transformation. It’s called the “Ten Major Construction Projects”. It includes building huge industrial zones and international airports for connecting Taiwan and the world.
After 1980 High-tech Transformation
In recent years, Taiwanese government invested in many high-tech industrial projects, such as the Hsinchu Science Park. They developed a special zone for high-tech specialists to work on research and making high-tech products. Take the Taiwanese biggest company for example, Hong Hai Foxxcon, the largest Original Equipment
Manufacturer (OEM), is working on making electronic parts for big brand such as Apple Inc. Taiwan is also famous for exporting high-quality semiconductors and silicon wafers.
Taiwanese culture is a combination for multinationals. It has a strong influence under Chinese traditional culture and Japanese colonization. Taiwan has superstitions and tradition that originate from China, such as Chinese New Year and Moon Festival. Taiwan also has some remained social constructions completed my Japanese government. Such as the police system, hygiene system and educational system.
Taiwan is considered an aging society. However, scholars predict that Taiwan will soon reach aged society in 2026. The problems rise when they social structure is getting older, less labor force will be in the society. Problem like elderly care system is not well-established, causing a crisis of elderly right in Taiwan.
I interviewed Taiwanese people about the problem with different educational, vocational backgrounds, helping me to understand the problem without any bias.
Interior Designer Mr. Ding
Mr. Ding is an interior designer who has completed some cases of elderly care center. According to him, a legal elderly care center needs to have a helper to take care every four elderly. And the scale of the elderly care center needs to be at lease more than 300 square meter. However, no construction company is willing to follow the rule because it’s
not helping them with earning money. Some construction company just established illegal elderly care center, putting 60 old people in a small room for gaining more profit. This is causing an unethical problem in Taiwan. Many places haven’t even equipped with handrails. The trade-off of elderly safety and profit has jeopardized Taiwanese elderly society.
Another problem is that currently in Taiwan, there are rare people requesting elderly care facility in their home. Making it even more difficult to make a safe place for elderly to live.
Financial Manager Ms. Lu
Ms. Lu is a financial manager in one largest securities company in Taiwan. She said that the aging society has also affected the insurance and securities companies. She also mentioned that if Taiwan couldn’t tackle the problem before 2026, when Taiwan could possibly become an aged society, Taiwanese elderly generation will be living in a disaster. She also mentioned even though there are lots of foreign helpers from Philippines or Indonesia coming to Taiwan every year, it still cannot solve the problem from the roots.
Elderly Care Helper Ms. Xu
Ms. Xu said that Taiwanese constructions are very unfriendly to elderly people. Cars are parked everywhere, making elderly people difficult to walk by the street. Old apartments have difficulties making wheelchairs to go from the gate to the elevator. Construction designs without handrails, elevators, safe stairs are causing tragedy to elderly people every day.
Senior Citizen Ms. Tsai
Ms. Tsai said the Taipei City is causing her to be afraid of the security every day. She said she would rather stay at home than going out. She lived in a Japanese colonial era, and she often mentioned she wants to live in the past more than now. The old days are more human-friendly, she said.
Taiwan’s neighbor, Japan, is also facing a similar problem few years ahead from us. With the use of the Sustainable Development Goals, Japan is able to overcome the problem. It seems that clearly Japan has found a way to deal with this problem.
3. Good Health and Well-being
Taiwan should create an elderly-friendly environment. The health insurance system in Taiwan has developed well, but the elderly care system should be more emphasized. A way to deal with this is to improve the elderly-friendly facilities in elderly care centers and hospitals. The hospital system should monitor elderly people’s health condition and give them fully support. Some companies in Japan has developed some home health-care systems that can monitor elderlies everyday, making the families able to help in the beginning stages.
For example can be Omron, one big medical company in Japan. They have monitors that
supervise elderly people’s health everyday. This equipment can be installed in shops, hospitals, elderly care center and schools. This aid can help the nurses to monitor everyone’s health condition, giving the fast and good support for the old generation.
9. Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
Aging society is changing the whole infrastructure system in Taiwan. In the future we will be facing problems like lacking of labor force and the pressure of taking care of the elderly generation is too high. However, with the industry innovation we can deal with the problem more easily.
For example, Secom Corporation is working on an IoT webcam to monitor elderly people’s safety. They can also make emergency calls when emergency occurs. The elderly people can also call nurses 24 hours a day for any health problem. This service can ease the pressure of the labor force, because the everything is completed with internet, making less waste of human resources. Secom also has branches in Taiwan. I think it is not impossible for Taiwan to apply this kind of service.
11. Sustainable City and Communities
Elderly center should become a community that making elderly people enjoy their retired life. They shouldn’t be living under a fear of danger and unsafe feelings. Many Japanese company has come up with plans of supporting elderly people retired life with a care center equipped with well-established facilities. The old people can have their
own community without being fear of anything. The elder care centers should be equipped with new technologies that can detect problems in thievery first stage.
For example, Sekisui Home is recently working on elderly care projects nation wide. They made the care center with elderly-friendly facilities, enough space for them to exercise, and making them able to make friends with each other with a huge cafeteria and meeting spaces.
We will become older thirty years later, and our children will have to take care of our generation. Fulfilling SDGs isn’t only about ourselves but also our children and the future generations. To build a healthy infrastructure and well-being society is better to start from now. We are building a sustainable country for everyone can enjoy. Luckily,
our neighbor Japan has already thought of different ways to tackle the problem, Taiwan has a lot of access to the sustainable development of human society. With the help of the Japanese company, I believe Taiwan can ease the problem a lot more.
Taiwan GDP., (2018)., Retrieved from
Omron, (2018),. Retrieved from
Secom, (2018),. Retrieved from
Sekisui House, (2018),. Retrieve from