President Tsai Addresses AmCham’s 2019 AGM

With President Tsai Ing-wen as the keynote speaker, AmCham Taipei’s 2019 Annual General Meeting was held November 19 in the newly redecorated Grand Ballroom of Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza. The President paid tribute to the Chamber’s “key role in advancing Taiwan-U.S. trade relations, and in bringing new investments to Taiwan.”

Some 230 Chamber members and guests attended the luncheon meeting, where voting was conducted for the 2020 Board of Governors and Supervisors. See the announcement of the results here.

The six Governors elected for two-year terms were:

  • Mark Chen of Abbott Laboratories
  • CW Chin of Applied Materials Taiwan
  • Timothy Shields of Cigna Taiwan
  • Gina Tsai of Airbnb
  • Fupei Wang of Ogilvy Public Relations
  • Angela Yu of Microsoft

They join 2019-2021 Governors Al Chang of Deloitte & Touche, Albert Chang of McKinsey, Seraphim Ma of Baker & McKenzie, Jan-Hendrik Meidinger of the Grand Hyatt Taipei, and Paulus Mok of Citibank.

Newly elected for one-year terms as Supervisors were:

  • Mark Horng of Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Stephen Tan of International Policy Advisory Group
  • Terry Tsao of SEMI Taiwan

In her speech, President Tsai also thanked AmCham for helping to “remove many obstacles for U.S. companies investing and operating in Taiwan.” She said the government listens closely to the suggestions of AmCham members and responds to their concerns, citing the recent implementation of a Patent Linkage System for pharmaceuticals as an example. See her full remarks here.

Tsai stressed her administration’s determination to build a new economic development model for Taiwan, one that will “transform Taiwan into Asia’s high-end manufacturing and R&D center, a regional financial and wealth management center, and a base for high-quality talent.”

The meeting also included a State of the Chamber 2019 report by Leo Seewald, who served as the AmCham Taipei chairman for most of the year. He highlighted the Chamber’s recent achievements, including receiving the 2019 Corporate Community Leadership Award from the Community Services Center for “exceptional leadership, service, and commitment to Taiwan.”

Seewald also presented the first annual Outstanding Committee Co-chair Awards to Joyce Lee of the Public Health Committee and Dylan Tyson of the Insurance Committee.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Foreign Ministry Awards AmCham’s Senior Director Don Shapiro the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded Don Shapiro, Editor-in-Chief of Taiwan Business TOPICS and Senior Director of AmCham, with the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy at a reception packed with family, friends and colleagues on November 8. The Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu, recognized Mr. Shapiro for his contributions to Taiwan’s development as a journalist over the last several decades.

A transcript of Mr. Shapiro’s remarks is as follows:

Minister Wu, Distinguished guests, friends and colleagues, good afternoon.

Thank you, Mr. Minister. This is indeed a great honor. I’m glad I decided to stay in Taiwan longer than the originally planned 10 months.

Although I deeply appreciate the recognition, in fact I consider that it was really my privilege to have been in Taiwan to witness the remarkable transformations that occurred here – politically, economically, socially – and to have been able to help make more people around the world aware of those developments.

When I came to Taiwan in 1969, it was an autocratic, one-party system. I got to know a number of former political prisoners, and one of the least pleasant reporting duties I had was to cover trials of civilians brought before military tribunals under martial law.

Then came the emergence of the tangwai, the founding of the DPP, the end of martial law, new legislative elections, and the direct election of the president. Taiwan had evolved into a vibrant, full-fledged democracy. For this former political science graduate student, it was like a living laboratory.

In international relations, Taiwan was steadily losing diplomatic recognition from other countries, but it was replacing it with strong, substantive unofficial relations. In effect, I saw the writing of a whole new chapter in the history of international affairs.

Economically, when I arrived in Taiwan this country was just going through the transition from an agricultural to an industrial society. Fortunately, besides my political science courses, I had studied a bit of economics, so I could also write about the strides Taiwan was making in economic development. I saw it thrive as one of the Four Tigers of Asia and then become a technology powerhouse.

I recall that 1969, the year of my arrival, was the first year in which Taiwan exported more than one billion US dollars worth of products. Now it exports almost that much in a day.

In addition to my international reporting, for 25 years I was a partner in a publishing company called Trade Winds. Taiwanese companies were then very good at manufacturing but not so much at marketing. Trade Winds played an important role in reaching out to importers around the world and introducing Taiwanese export industries and products.

The past nearly 20 years have been with the American Chamber, and this has also been a great experience. There are not nearly enough media covering Taiwan in the English language, and I believe our Taiwan Business TOPICS monthly has helped fill that gap. Our annual Taiwan White Paper always gets a lot of attention, and it’s been gratifying – especially in the last few years – to see how seriously the Taiwan government takes the issues raised in the White Paper and tries to resolve them.

Again, I would like to thank the government for this honor. Taiwan has been good to me. I came to Taiwan alone but met my wife here and we’ve now been married 46 years. From the start I always enjoyed warm acceptance from her family. I believe that as a “son-in-law of Taiwan,” I had the chance to delve more deeply into Taiwan society and appreciate Taiwan culture.

Our two daughters were born in Taiwan. And although under the Nationality Act at that time they were unable to become ROC citizens, they’ve always considered Taiwan to be home. After more than 20 years in the U.S., daughter Debbie last year decided to return and is now working in the Taiwan hotel industry. Daughter Laurie lives and works in Singapore but looks for every opportunity to come back to visit.

I’m also grateful to the AmCham officers and board for their consistent support and my wonderful colleagues on the Chamber staff for their friendship and unflagging cooperation. I would also like to give a special thanks to several people here today – Kang Ning-hsiang and Antonio Chiang. Over the years, I have learned so much about Taiwan politics from speaking with them. I should also put Minister Wu in that category.

As for the future, I have always been an optimist about Taiwan. In my years here, I’ve seen Taiwan confronted with numerous big challenges, and it has always had the resiliency and fortitude to come out okay. I believe that will continue to be the case, especially if Taiwan continues to open up and connect with the rest of the world as much as possible.

Thank you all for being here today, and thank you MOFA for this honor.

New Co-chair Awards – Recognizing Impactful Leadership

Many of the most important people at AmCham Taipei are the committee co-chairs. They are the ones who lead the organization’s 25 industry committees – the backbone of our advocacy mission that aims to make Taiwan’s business environment more open, innovative and prosperous. Each year, the co-chairs spend hours and hours writing e-mails, briefing policymakers, holding meetings and molding a consensus with their peers on issues that are vital to our businesses.

The Board of Governors has decided it’s time to formally recognize the most impactful co-chairs. With recommendations from the AmCham staff, the Board will select two co-chairs who will receive awards at the Annual General Meeting on Nov. 19. The selection criteria will include:

  • Catalyzing activity with regular committee meetings, strategic goals, innovative tactics and efficient execution.
  • Engaging with Taiwanese and U.S. policymakers on a regular basis and achieving results through substantive engagement.
  • Organizing events that raise the organization’s profile and advance the mission.
  • Joining the CEO Mission to Washington.

Senator Ted Cruz Attends National Day Celebration, Meets with AmCham Taipei

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and former presidential candidate, became the first U.S. senator in 35 years to attend Taiwan’s National Day celebrations when he visited Taipei on Oct. 9-10. The senator’s visit was part of a swing through the region that also included Japan, India and Hong Kong. After observing the National Day festivities, Senator Cruz had lunch with AmCham Taipei Chairman Leo Seewald and President William Foreman. Also attending was Brent Christensen, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan. Topics of discussion included business opportunities for U.S. companies in Taiwan, the country’s relations with China and the outlook for Taiwan’s economy.

Exploring Solutions to Taiwan’s Aging Society

In 2018, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior reported that 14% of the island’s population was over the age of 65. That rate is rapidly increasing and is expected to reach 20% or higher by 2026, which could make Taiwan the world’s first “super-aged society.” Such a prospect is alarming, given the vast amount of energy and resources that would be needed to provide adequate care for the growing number of elderly.

In order to address this pressing issue, AmCham Taipei hosted the 2019 Taipei Healthy Aging Forum, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on September 27. The forum brought together representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society organizations, to discuss the various challenges associated with an aging society and how to effectively confront these challenges.

In his keynote speech at the forum, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, a former trauma surgeon, noted that Taiwan’s rate of aging is one of the highest in the world. Within 24 years, the number of Taiwanese over the age of 65 jumped from 7% to 14% of the general population. Ko emphasized the importance of accurate government statistics in formulating good elder-care policy, as well as the need to reform Taiwan’s pension system so as to reduce the length of time that retirees are dependent on public resources.

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je

Most of the event’s speakers focused on the dire need for a public health framework that includes holistic, integrated approaches to long-term care for Taiwan’s elderly. Dr. Yeh Yen-Po, director of Changhua County’s Department of Health, introduced the program that his department has implemented, which incorporates improving and promoting long-term care services, encouraging healthy living practices, and increasing community involvement. This program has created a more aging-friendly environment in Changhua and can serve as a model for other cities and counties across the island.

Dr. Yeh Yen-Po, director of Changhua County’s Department of Health

Another topic that speakers addressed was the issue of frailty, the physiological decline that the body undergoes as a result of aging, and how it is affected by a number of environmental and social factors that can be controlled by strong healthcare policies. Participants from industry stressed the important role of public-private partnerships in creating effective long-term care solutions that utilize predictive, preventive approaches, rather than the current model of procedural intervention. Vincent Shih, assistant general counsel at Microsoft and general manager of Microsoft Greater China’s Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs Leadership team, gave a presentation that described how the use of big data and technology can improve the quality of health services for the elderly.

The forum included two discussion panels moderated by Dr. Kang Jaw-Jou, vice president of National Yang-Ming University, and Professor Jennifer Wang, COO of GLORIA and chair of National Cheng-Chi University’s Risk Management and Insurance Department, respectively. Panelists included Dr. Wang Ying-yue, director general of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Health Promotion Administration; Dr. Mark Tennyson, executive director and regional head of Value, Access and Policy for Amgen JAPAC; and Tim Shields, general manager and CEO of Cigna Taiwan Life Insurance. AmCham Taipei President William Foreman provided brief closing remarks.

The forum’s platinum sponsor was Amgen. Cigna was the silver sponsor.

From left to right: AmCham Public Health Committee Co-Chair Joyce Lee, General Manager, Amgen Taiwan Limited; Dr. Wang Ying-yue, Director-General of Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Health Promotion Administration; AmCham President William Foreman; and AmCham Public Health Committee Co-Chair Tim Shields General Manager & CEO, Cigna Taiwan Life Assurance Company Ltd.

AmCham Public Health Committee Co-Chairs Joyce Lee and Tim Shields, AmCham President William Foreman, speakers, and panelists

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AmCham Taipei Celebrates 68th Anniversary

Participants in AmCham Taipei’s cocktail reception marking the 68th anniversary of the Chamber’s birth in 1951 enjoyed a spectacular view from The Penthouse on the 16th floor of the eslite Hotel. Nearly 100 attendees gathered to enjoy a delicious selection of canapés, freeflowing wine and Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch, raffle prizes, and stimulating conversation. The event on September 19 was sponsored by American Airlines.

Chamber President Bill Foreman welcomed the members and guests, and a slide show drew attention to the Chamber’s signature events and major activities over recent years. The reception ended with a lucky draw contest with prizes sponsored by the Chamber that included Sparkling Wines and Glenlivet 15 Year Old Scotch Malt Whisky.

AmCham Taipei had five member companies at its founding and has since grown to a membership of more than 500 business organizations.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

An American Flag Heirloom

During this U.S. Fourth of July season, AmCham Taipei is pleased to share some family lore passed along by Chamber member Faye Angevine of Bai Win Mercantile Corp. The 45-star American flag shown above was owned — and probably made — by her great-grandmother, Effie Foster, and is currently on display in the lobby of the American Club.

Faye informs us that Effie Foster, related by marriage to the great songwriter Stephen Foster, was a participant in the first Oklahoma land rush of 1889. “She traveled with her daughter (my grandmother Mildred Foster) and a group of relatives from Salem, Massachusetts, and settled in Kingfisher, Oklahoma,” Faye writes. “I found the flag folded up at the bottom of my great-grandfather’s doctor’s bag while going through my Mom’s things after her death.” The stars are hand-stitched onto the flag (appliqué), while the stripes were sewn on with a pedal machine. (Because the stars were applied to the wrong side, the flag is displayed backward).

The 45-star flag became the official flag of the United States on July 4, 1896, following the admission of Utah to the union as the 45th state earlier that year. Three presidents served under that flag: Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt. Later stars were added for Oklahoma (1907), New Mexico and Arizona (1912), and Alaska and Hawaii (1959).

A Panel Sharing Election Insights

Taiwanese voters will be casting their ballots next January 11 in what is widely considered to be the most consequential presidential election in Taiwan’s history. To help Chamber members better understand the implications of the election, AmCham Taipei will be organizing a series of events at which political analysts will present their views.

The first such event took place July 17 at a luncheon meeting at the Regent Taipei. AmCham President William Foreman moderated a panel discussion featuring Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang, Associate Professor at Tamkang University’s Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies; former AIT Director William A. Stanton; and Stephen Yates, CEO of DC International Advisory.

Among the key points emerging from the discussion:

  • The major issues deciding the election will be a combination of cross-Strait relations, the state of the economy, and various social issues.
  • President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid for reelection is benefiting from the hard line being taken by Beijing on such matters as the Hong Kong extradition law and the crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang. The PRC aggressiveness makes it harder for the KMT to defend the “One China” position of the 1992 consensus.
  • The incumbent generally enjoys a certain advantage in being able to attract media attention and launch policy initiatives. Also to Tsai’s advantage is that the current Taiwan-U.S. relationship is better than it has ever been.
  • KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu, the recently elected mayor of Kaohsiung, is highly charismatic and appeals to a segment of the population that is anti-elite and blames the establishment political leaders of the past for having failed to deliver.
  • If Mayor Ko Wen-je enters the race, he can likely count on support from many young people, even though his policy positions tend to be rather vague.
  • Tsai is expected to have the edge in a two-way race. Three-way competitions are much more complicated and difficult to call.

Corning Hosts AmCham Taipei Field Trip

Corning Display Technologies, one of Taiwan’s largest foreign investors, played host on July 12 to an AmCham Taipei field trip to its high-tech glass manufacturing plant in the Central Taiwan Science Park in Taichung. A group of 25 AmCham members and staff got the chance to see the highly automated, continuous process in which glass for smart phones, computer screens, and TVs is formed, cut, washed, and packaged.

In a briefing prior to the tour, Daniel Tseng, president of Corning Display Technologies Taiwan, stressed the importance of constant innovation in enabling the New York-based parent company to be a technology leader throughout its 168 history. On the average, the company annually invests an unusually high 8-10% of revenue in research and development.

Highlights of the Corning history include production of the glass for the first electric lightbulb, invented by Thomas Edison in the 1870s; the first television picture tubes; breakthroughs in optical fiber that have made modern communications possible; and the ultra-strong Gorilla Glass that protects many mobile devices.

Corning has invested nearly US$5 billion in Taiwan, and about 10% of the company’s 45,000 worldwide workforce is located on the island. Corning Display Technologies is one of the few foreign-invested companies in Taiwan that include R&D, design, engineering, manufacturing, and sales and marketing in a fully integrated operation.

Besides the Taichung site, Corning Display also manufactures glass at facilities in the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan. It also maintains administrative offices and the Corning Advanced Technology Center in Taipei, as well as a research center on the campus of the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Hsinchu.

Future areas for the company’s development include glass and ceramics for the automotive, life science, and mobile consumer electronics industries.

Given the non-stop glass-making operation that works around-the-clock, 365 days a year, Tseng emphasized the importance for Corning Taiwan of a stable and sufficient electric-power supply.

Understanding China’s Environmental Policy Within Today’s Context

AmCham Taipei hosted Alex Wang, professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles, in a seminar-style discussion at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on July 11. Wang gave an overview of China’s environmental regulations and legal and political institutions, as well as introducing his own predictions for China’s environmental outlook over the next century. Seminar participants were able to ask questions in an intimate setting with one of the world’s most prominent experts in this field.

Attendees included media professionals, academics, students, and industry representatives.

Wang noted that over the past 10 years, China has had an increasingly high concentration of PM2.5 particles compared to other countries. These tiny particles are particularly damaging to human health. He demonstrated an interactive platform that uses satellite imagery to allow the viewer to see global PM2.5 concentrations live here. Participants could note the high concentration of PM2.5 in and around eastern China.

Wang attributed the rapid increase in air pollution in China since the early 2000s to the country’s entrance into the World Trade Organization, which spurred huge growth in industrial production. But although China is a large polluter in nominal terms, in terms of per-capita pollution its CO2 emissions are substantially lower than those of the U.S., he pointed out. Wang also noted that approximately one-third of China’s emissions are caused by production for export to the U.S., European Union, and Japan.

Sharing the effects of decreased air pollution during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when motor traffic was curtailed and factory operations suspended, he cited one study that found that women who gave birth a month after the Olympics had significantly healthier babies.

The Lincoln Room is made possible by the generosity of a number of sponsoring companies:

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.