Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Taiwan Is Suffering From a Massive Brain Drain and the Main Beneficiary is China

Taiwan university students take class photo ahead of graduation
A group of students from the National Chiayi University in Chiayi City, southwestern Taiwan, poses for a class photo on campus on Dec. 8, 2014. Kazuhiko Yamashita—Kyodo

Taiwan Is Suffering From a Massive Brain Drain and the Main Beneficiary is China

Aug 21, 2017
Money talks. At least it did for Eddie Chen and, presumably, for many of the 420,000 of his Taiwanese compatriots who opted to earn a higher salary by working in mainland China.
Chen, 26, moved from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, to Beijing in 2014, first to study a Masters on a full scholarship, and then to work in PR for a major international company.
He earns double what he would in his native Taiwan, where starting salaries for graduates have barely risen since the late 1990s. “China has a bigger market and there is more globalization here,” he explains. “Taiwan does not offer many opportunities for young people.”
Official government statistics reveal that by 2015 over 720,000 out of Taiwan’s roughly 10-million strong workforce, 72.5% of them with an undergraduate degree or higher, had moved overseas for better job opportunities.
Unsurprisingly, neighboring China, with its common language, has absorbed the majority.
But it is also actively luring Taiwan’s best talent, contributing to an acute brain drain that not only threatens the Taiwanese economy, but has prompted fears that Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory, is using its economic clout to try to buy political influence.
A recent flow of mainland initiatives to recruit Taiwanese students and entrepreneurs has jangled nerves in the self-ruled democracy that China is expanding efforts to win the loyalty of the younger generation with financial sweeteners, taking advantage of Taiwan’s sluggish economy.
China has targeted Taiwan’s educated elite for years, but a recent uptick in job and education incentives suggests a shift in tactics since cross-strait relations soured over Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to accept Beijing’s policy that the island of 24 million is part of ‘One China’.
Its attempts to punish Taiwan through international isolation, blocking it from United Nations meetings and poaching from its small remaining pool of diplomatic allies, appears only to have fortified Taiwanese resolve to forge their own identity.
The young in particular identify more acutely with Taiwan as their home country and China as a giant neighboring state. But the long term impact of offering millennials a higher standard of living is hard to predict.
China has made no secret of its belief that financial benefits can, over time, dilute, and eventually displace national identity and advance its unification agenda.
Reports emerged in April that Beijing would appeal to business grass-roots through the All China Federation of Taiwanese Compatriots, led by Wang Yifu, a former advisor to President Xi Jinping on Taiwan.
The plan to offer attractive study and work opportunities was followed this summer by invitations to Taiwanese local leaders and youth groups to mainland camps and cultural activities.
Last month, China’s education ministry announced it would halve the quota of Chinese students in Taiwan while relaxing entrance rules for Taiwanese at mainland universities, fueling suspicion of attempted social engineering.
Taiwan ChinaA tourism-related business worker holds a slogan reading "No Job, No Life." during a march in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Sept. 13, 2016.  Chiang Ying-ying—AP 
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which oversees cross-strait relations, urged China to “cherish and maintain” educational exchanges, warning against “interference or restrictions.”
It reminded Taiwanese students of “major differences” between the two countries’ education systems.
But politics is the last thing on Ling Kuang-hsuan’s mind as the postgraduate student, 22, excitedly prepares to start a two year Masters course in human resources at Peking university this September.
She believes Peking’s top reputation will improve her job prospects and, like Eddie Chen, she sees her future in China.
“I hope I can stay in China and find a job…Most of my friends also hope that they can work there after they graduate,” Ling adds. “There are many international companies that don’t have a franchise in Taiwan but they do have one in China.”
Her chances are good. China’s major cities offer a thriving scene of multinational companies and lucrative incentives for start-ups.
In 2015, Chinese e-commerce magnate, Jack Ma, announced a $330 million fund for Taiwanese entrepreneurs.
Just last month, the Taipei-based China Times reported an award of almost $400,000 for a business start-up contest for Taiwanese youth in Shanghai.
Chen admits that China’s vibrant business climate lured him back after his studies when he struggled to start a PR company in Taiwan.
“It was easy to start, but not to survive,” he says. “In Taiwan they play more a short term game. They want their investment back soon.”
The Chinese, however, treated him like a “star”, offering an office and financial incentives. “The Chinese government want people to start-up. They want this trend,” he says.
Chen sold his stake in his company to advance his career in a large international firm.
In China, ambitious Taiwanese professionals also find they can progress quicker than they would at home. “Our company is willing to give younger people more of a chance,” says Chen.
China may feel like a foreign country where “we still understand that we are different culturally and politically”, but for now it is Chen’s home. “Taiwan is much more a place for retirement,” he adds.
The roots of Taiwan’s talent deficit lie in its slow export-reliant economy and the failure to make tough reforms to attract foreign investment and to shift from previously successful labor-intensive industries towards high technology and services.
Meanwhile, neighboring China enjoys high growth. In July it reported an annual pace of 6.9% while Taiwan hovers at around 2%.
Job seekers look at job information at an employment fair in Taipei, TaiwanJob seekers look at job information at an employment fair in Taipei, Taiwan on May 28, 2016.  Tyrone Siu—REUTERS  
To add to Taiwan’s woes, graduate salaries have stagnated. In 1999, a university graduate could expect an average monthly salary of around $900. By 2016, this had risen to just $925.
“If China is growing at 6 percent a year and Taiwan is growing at 2 percent a year, which is going to be the most attractive place to go to stake out your career?” asks Michael Zielenziger, Asia expert and a managing editor at Oxford Economics, a U.K.-based economics and research consultancy.
“It’s very difficult for a young, bright Taiwanese student to ignore the bright lights, big city appeal of either China or the States. It’s a challenge to the government to make the country more attractive, to keep people at home and bring them back,” he says.
In 2012, Oxford Economics produced a survey that made the dire prediction that by 2021, Taiwan would have the biggest talent deficit in the world.
“Taiwan comes in poorly for a number of obvious factors. The population is not increasing...It’s getting older,” says Zielenziger.
Caught in a vicious cycle, low wages have left young people less inclined to start a family, contributing to declining birthrates.
Youth are resentful that Taiwan’s generous state pension system leaves, for example, retired high school teachers on a monthly stipend of around $2,250, while they struggle to make ends meet.
The resulting exodus leaves less workers to support the swelling ranks of the old, pushing the pensions system towards the brink of bankruptcy.
Gordon Sun, director of the forecasting center at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, says the nature of the brain drain is exacerbating Taiwan’s economic troubles.
“They are high level managers, engineers, they are rich, their income is high,” he says.
“Most of their spending or consumption is in China. So in Taiwan our consumption cannot grow,” he argues. “We need them to come back and live here and spend here.”
Shanghai records best month for air quality in five yearsTourists visiting the promenade on the Shanghai Bund take pictures of the Lujiazui Financial District skyline in Pudong, Shanghai, China, on Sept. 26 2016.  Wang Gang—Imaginechina  
But the notion of China presenting itself as the land of opportunity in exchange for Taiwanese loyalty is misguided, believes Taipei-based analyst Michael Cole, a senior fellow at Nottingham University’s China Policy Institute.
Firstly, China has no clear strategy to win over Taiwan. “Right now, they don’t know what to do,” he argues.
“They’ve long been infatuated with notions of economic determinism. They tried that with Tibet and they tried that with Hong Kong to an extent,” Cole says.
“They still don’t seem to realize the pragmatism with which people are dealing with China, in which they recognize the opportunities for their career or for investment, but very rarely does that translate into a shift in self-identification or support for unification.”
Lo Chih-cheng, a legislator with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), agrees that young people will see through attempts to politically manipulate them.
“They want to show especially to young people, that China is their future, and Taiwan has nowhere to go to but to turn to China. That’s their strategy: Taiwan has to depend on China for economic development,” he says.
“I don’t know whether it works or not but I don’t think it will change their identity,” Lo adds. “There is a huge difference between the way of life in Taiwan and China that will reinforce their views about themselves being Taiwanese not Chinese.”
Others are more concerned that the long term impact of offering financial security to an entire generation, could slowly erode resistance to China’s political ambitions.
Unlike Hong Kong, freedom of speech and democracy is not directly under threat for now in Taiwan, giving the young fewer reasons to push back. Taiwanese identity is strong, but willingness to advocate independence less so.
Rex, 36, a Taiwanese banker, moved to Guangzhou, southern China, two years ago as he did not want to lose his job in Taiwan in middle age. “I don’t see a future for my work in Taiwan,” he says.
He now prefers the dynamism of China compared to the more regulatory business culture at home.
Politics plays little role in Rex’s personal life, but he believes that “Taiwan and the Chinese are going to merge some day in the future, 50 or 100 years from now” for more practical reasons.
“China is just too big and in Taiwan you cannot live without China being involved in your business,” he explains.
For many who opted to stay home, the steady drip of China’s economic influence over those who left has become a touchy subject.
Earlier this year, a Taiwanese man, Jeremy, 25, who works in Shanghai was denounced online as a “communist bandit” after he urged young people to leave and seek a better life overseas.
“I have friends in Taiwan who work inconceivably hard every day. They’re up at 5am and don’t finish up with work until 9 or 10pm at night. And what for? They have no future and no hopes,” he said in a video that went viral.
A tourist from Shanghai, China goes through a health checkup organised by the hospital to promote medical tourism in TaipeiA tourist from Shanghai, China goes through a health checkup organized by a hospital to promote medical tourism in Taipei June 28, 2011.  Pichi Chuang—REUTERS  
Dr Yang Tzu-ting, a research fellow at the Institute of Economics at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, believes that a large Taiwanese labor force in China could “threaten our national security” and encourage some to become advocates for unification.
The best way for the Taiwanese government to counter this is to create better jobs and to boost the services industry, he argues.
An example would be to remove stifling annual quotas on medical training to create a health tourism sector, he says. Another would be to make universities more competitive to prevent academics escaping centralized, and low, wages.
Ross Feingold, a Taipei-based lawyer and public policy analyst, agrees that the Taiwanese government is not doing enough to stem the brain drain.
“One way to look at it is if China succeeds in getting young people to remain there during election time and not return home to vote for the DPP, that that would also work to China’s advantage,” he says.
“I think it’s just a transactional relationship where people want to have jobs that pay better and offer opportunities for promotion. Whether it builds personal affinity remains to be seen.”

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Trump and the Infrastructure of Fascism


Posted on August 19, 2017 by 
By Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics and a founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Originally published at Triple Crisis
Infrastructure investment: it’s that economic policy sweet spot that everyone loves to love.
Fixing bridges, building roads, modernizing airports, improving mass transportation, keeping lead out of our water: nearly everyone can relate to the need for it and can imagine how much better their lives would be with more of it.  For years, most people have faced crazy-making delays in traffic, long lines at airports, and have seen pictures of bridges collapsing. And the experts agree. Economists and engineers have warned us about the problem for decades.  The most recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a D+ on its infrastructure building and maintenance, which means that, overall, our infrastructure is in critical condition. These civil engineers estimate that over the next 10 years, the U.S. will have about a $1.2 trillion in infrastructure financing shortfall unless something dramatic is done. Studies have confirmed that, properly done, infrastructure investment can generate millions of jobs, create big time saving efficiencies, and keep people safer. These infrastructure shortfalls, fed by years of Republican austerity initiatives at the Federal and State levels, too often aided and abetted by Democratic bankers and other Democratic “deficit hawks,” are much in the everyday texture of American life.
On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump jumped on the bandwagon, decrying America’s “Third World” infrastructure and touting his ability to fix it in short order—as “demonstrated” by his “building prowess “in New York City and “around the world.” Trump promised to quickly fix the country’s decaying infrastructure and generate millions of good paying job with a $1 trillion program that will “Make America Great Again.”
That Trump had hit a political “sweet spot” was made clear early on by the number of prominent Democrats and labor leaders who announced not only an interest but real enthusiasm for cooperating with Trump on making a $ 1 trillion building-spree a reality. How could they resist? A true, well designed, well-implemented $1 Trillion government investment in infrastructure is a plan many Democrats, progressive economists and labor leaders had been promoting for years. As Richard Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO explained: “During my January meeting with President Trump, we identified a few important areas where compromise seemed possible. On manufacturing, infrastructure and especially trade, we were generally in agreement. Mr. Trump spoke of $1 trillion to rebuild our schools, roads and bridges. He challenged companies to keep jobs in the United States. He promoted ‘Buy America.’ He promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
Of course, many Democrats and some economists  understood that  that Trump’s infrastructure “sketch” (he has never come out with a true plan) was quite different from a genuine government-financed $1 trillion plan. From the beginning, Trump’s team had made it clear that this was going to be a private-public partnership in which the government would put in significantly less than a trillion dollars—perhaps  $200 or $400 billion of corporate tax subsidies over 10 years—as a way to help facilitate a privatization of public assets. Think: turning public roads into privately owned toll roads and public tunnels into privately owned toll tunnels. This type of privatization, critics argued, would end up as a typical crony capitalist gold mine, giving away public assets to well-connected and politically pliant capitalists and maybe, just maybe, getting some improved but very expensive infrastructure and a few jobs in the process. But some Democrats and labor leaders were, perhaps understandably, desperate to engage in wishful thinking and tentative support—given the  apparent political pressure from their constituencies.
Still, some observers warned that the dangers of this infrastructure sweet spot were even greater than might at first appear. In an article in Challenge Magazine, “Trumponomics: Should We Just Say No?”  I argued that not only is the so-called “infrastructure” program mostly a thinly disguised privatization scam; it was also a sinister gambit to broaden the political support and therefore the power of Trump and  Trumpism, a proto-fascist regime and movement, whose goal is to undermine democracy, enrich those wealthy capitalists willing to play along, and divide and conquer the domestic population by sowing racial, gender, religious and national hatred and intolerance.
On August 15, this “infrastructure of fascism” came into clear focus in a bizarre and tragic way. Donald Trump marched into a conference room in Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in Manhattan to hold a hastily arranged press briefing on the first formal unveiling of his “Infrastructure” plan. He had key members of his economic team in tow – most notably, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council—both former Goldman Sachs bankers—and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, former Bank of America and Citicorp banker. This announcement of Trump’s “infrastructure plan,” which took only a few minutes, presented even less of a true infrastructure plan than he had floated during the election campaign. This was simply yet another de-regulation plan dressed up as a plan for infrastructure investment. Effectively, this “executive order” served-up a wish list that would have been compiled by any real estate mogul who doesn’t want any government agency or public group to come between him, his building, and his bottom line. In the name of building more useful infrastructure and generating more jobs, Trump’s executive order is designed to let developers skirt environmental regulations, and most likely, labor, health, and safety regulations as well. The Executive Order will make it a lot easier to build more Trump towers in flood plains, but do little or nothing for the country’s true infrastructure needs.
But this roll-out of a fake infrastructure plan was not the most interesting or  surprising thing about this event. It was the press conference Trump held afterwardsUsing his Jewish and Asian-American economic team as a  photo-op backdrop and the creation of infrastructure and jobs as his bait, Trump took the occasion to assure his neo-fascist, white supremacist and nationalist base that, yes, he was still their man. The reporters at hand, having little interest in infrastructure, wanted to hear a clear statement from Trump decrying the violent and deadly acts committed over the weekend by Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. But instead Trump used his infrastructure plan and his promise of “millions of jobs” to rally his base supporters, all the while demonizing the counter-protestors (calling them violent members of “the alt-left” who were “at least” as responsible for the violence and mayhem as those on the right).
This event, then, tied, in a sinister but clear way, Trump’s infrastructure plan with the racist, anti-Semitic, and neo-fascist members of Trump’s base movement and linked them, in turn, to the bankers and policy makers like Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin who have so much to gain from the tax subsidies and privatization that are the essence of these plans. Gary Cohn was reportedly “furious” about what Trump said and did. But according to reporters, Cohn, like so many Republicans in Congress, will most likely remain quiet, and soldier on, presumably in the hope of getting a big payoff down the road. (Cohn reportedly wants to succeed Janet Yellen as Chair of the Federal Reserve; and his friends have millions to gain from the privatization schemes.)
Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence led numerous members of his two business councils to resign.   In resigning from Trump’s “Manufacturing Council,” AFL-CIO President Rich Trumpka explained in the New York Times: ” Unfortunately, with each passing day, it has become clear that President Trump has no intention of following through on his commitments to working people. More worrisome, his actions and rhetoric threaten to leave America worse off and more divided. It is for these reasons that I resigned yesterday from the president’s manufacturing council, which the president disbanded today after a string of resignations. To be clear, the council never lived up to its potential for delivering policies that lift up working families.”
Let this be a warning to economists,  labor leaders, Democratic officials and all progressives fighting  for economic and social justice: “progressive-appearing” economic proposals from Trump  are likely to be thinly veiled attempts to suck in unsuspecting allies in support of a neo-fascist, authoritarian movement that is increasingly showing its true colors. They are designed, quite clearly, to build support for Trump and his business allies. Don’t be fooled, don’t be bought off, and be vigilant.
Trade policy and re-negotiating NAFTA are up next. As Robert Kuttner, Editor of The American Prospect told us after his astonishing telephone call from Steve Bannon, Bannon is looking for a “right-left” alliance on trade. We can be sure that, like Trump’s “infrastructure plan,”  this trade alliance will all be in the service of Trump and Trumpism.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charlottesville's America to Germany's Nazism?

Charlottesville in context How Germany responds to “blood and soil” politics

This Economist editorial has strained points to prove that Germany responds to WASP ethnocentric bootlickers and their leaders better than America, but the magazine's editorial neglects to point out the silly Hollywood-minded core of most Americans, from fascism to transgender vegan fetishes; all ethnocentric fluff with little to do with improving one's working conditions. Americans are blindsided by their government, corporate media, and propaganda in school textbooks. 

Statements like "The whole furious display of armed ethno-nationalism from Donald Trump and some of his media cheerleaders" is a sideshow to the dismantling of workers' rights. While children in Germany are reminded of the Holocaust,  the essential part of American children's curriculum is justification for capitalism and how to be consumers; there is little mention of Native American history from their point of view or the 60 million murdered with guns and disease for manifest destiny of the same ilk that created Nazism and European imperialism; exploitation and colonization of the world. That seems to be okay with this magazine. Germany has "little brass squares in the pavements (Stolpersteine, or stumbling stones) containing the names and details of Holocaust victims" and America has Hollywood Blvd. The places that unions were born on the Lower Eastside, Patterson, Lawrence, Brisbee,  may have plaques that no one notices, and a history that is swept under the patriotic rug, not highlighted like Nazism is in Germany. 

"Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had proposed exterminating the Jewish people to Hitler, she politely but firmly corrected him: 'Germany abides by its responsibility for the Holocaust.'" At least the anti-Israeli author points out Bengy and his apartheid schmucks are just as dumb as Trump at the same time admiring German censorship of Finis Germania, a recently published book "claiming that German identity is being dismantled, excised from some bestseller lists." though condemning hyper-cautious editorial style. Ha! At least Germany allows books condemning Zionism to be published. 

The most disgusting part of this editorial comes at the end when the author talks of America as one of the "countries without Holocausts on their history books [that]can also learn from Germany's grown-up, vigilant and dutiful culture of remembrance." 60 million murdered Native Americans does not qualify as a holocaust to this magazine????? The Economist is the last authority on humanity. The denial of history and selective references to racism are a travesty to the understanding of what's happened to American workers trampled under all the bullshit distractions of all the self-centered trends that liberate no one but perhaps the man or woman in the mirror.  

"Hate speech" has brought out more progressive organization, but the right to demand better pay for workers by having rallies or marching in picket lines is more difficult than getting permits for "free speech" marches. Get real and know what the fight is for: a living wage. Fight NAFTA, not only bootlickers.  


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Remembering Who the Enemy Is


Image may contain: meme and text
Though Trump's callous reminding Americans Washington and Jefferson had slaves daring listeners to tear down their statues, too, the grain of truth remains that the U.S. has always been a racist WASP ruling class with slavery and immigrants allowed in for slave wages to enrich the magnates of the Gilded Age. It is only through the countering of industrial labor unions that fought for civil rights and better working conditions that there was push-back on the domination.

 Heather Heyer was a Wobbly, still out there, not pussyfooting with bullshit Democrat Push-Me-Pull-You politics. 

There was a Facebook friend who constantly posted doomsday memes. I wrote a private IM to him saying I was stopping getting notifications from him because, though I agreed with all his memes, I was worried about him and it was depressing me. Preaching from the choir is not want I need from Facebook. Facebook is my news source in Taiwan. I read what I want to see and comment on or ignore what I consider lies or negativity, “fear mongering” I call it. I also don’t like memes insulting Trump or his cabinet because that is a distraction from progressive direct action. My 'friend' read my IM but didn’t respond privately; he commented to my timeline, a comment that didn’t go through because I had already unfollowed him. 

My urging to all who read my posts is to become radicalized, join the IWW, forget democracy ever happening in The U.S.; "The fish stinks from the head." Tearing down Confederate Statues is reactionary; both sides in the Civil War claimed six-hundred thousand lives; Lincoln was a racist, too, and only used the abolition of slavery politically. 

 Americans should be looking for a new socialist candidate for the presidential election in 2020; Bernie Sanders proved he is a coward. Maybe Dr. Cornel West can run or someone who bored into the system with a chance of winning. Sanders blew it big time. Now is the time for Americans to radicalize themselves and go underground with guerrilla warfare. Read Ho Chi-Min's philosophy on fighting imperialism. 

As the division  spirals out of control, only common people will suffer, bootlicking racists and love-me liberals alike. The ACLU defended the petition to march in Charoletteville and rightfully won them free speech. 

"Hate speech" has brought out more progressive organization, but the right to demand better pay for workers by having rallies or marching in picket lines is more difficult than getting permits for "free speech" marches. Get real and know what the fight is for: a living wage. Fight NAFTA, not only bootlickers.  


Here is something more important from Liana Foxvog and 
Today — with Congress on recess and many movement organizers cleared out of town for vacation — trade negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico are kicking off NAFTA negotiations in Washington, D.C. For the next five days, they will meet behind closed doors for part one of seven negotiation rounds to lay out the future of NAFTA.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has meant job loss, the degradation of local economies in all three countries, and increased power for multinational corporations. And there are no indications from the Trump Administration that a new NAFTA will mean anything better than that.

During these negotiations, join us in demanding a better deal for working people. Send a letter to your members of Congress now.

Progressive organizations representing millions of members have come together in one voice to demand the elimination of the anti-democratic Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) rules that let corporations sue governments — before a panel of corporate lawyers — for unlimited compensation, if they think labor, environmental or other regulations have damaged their bottom line. Taxpayers from the three NAFTA countries have already paid hundreds of millions of dollars to corporations following attacks on toxic bans, environmental and public health policies, and more.

There is one clear litmus test to judge whether NAFTA or any other agreement has been hijacked by special interests to expand corporate power: Does the deal include ISDS? ISDS must be removed from any NAFTA renegotiation and should not be included in any future agreement.

Click here to ask your members of Congress to oppose any NAFTA renegotiation — or any other agreement — that includes ISDS.

In solidarity,
Liana Foxvog