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.

2019 Member Survey Results: High level of satisfaction with AmCham Taipei

Advocacy is the service most AmCham Taipei members value the most. The vast majority of the membership is satisfied with the organization. The events that interest them the most are industry forums and panel discussions. About half read our Taiwan Business TOPICS magazine at least once a month.

Those were the main takeaways from a survey that was sent to all AmCham members last month. The information was invaluable to the staff and Board of Governors. The feedback will be used to make adjustments and improvements so that we can better serve our members. The number of responses: 142 in 2019 vs 111 in 2017

Question 1: What services do you value most?

  • Advocacy 53.5%
  • Networking 14%
  • Information Sharing 15.5%
  • Events 6%
  • Publications 10.6%

Question 2: Overall, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with AmCham?

  • Very satisfied 27.5%
  • Satisfied 52%
  • Neutral 20%
  • Dissatisfied .7%
  • Very Dissatisfied 0%

Question 3: What kind of AmCham events interest you the most? (choose top 3)

  • Industry forums & panel discussions 83%
  • Talks by corporate leaders 75%
  • Speeches by government officials 65%
  • Networking events 31%
  • Professional development 19%
  • Field trips 19%

Question 4: How would you rate AmCham’s advocacy efforts?

  • Excellent 31%
  • Good 50%
  • Fair 11%
  • Poor 2%
  • Not applicable 7%

Question 5: How do you read Taiwan Business TOPICS magazine?

  • Hard copy 46%
  • Online 22%
  • Both 28%
  • Neither 4%

Question 6: How often do you read TOPICS online and/or in print?

  • Once a month 47%
  • A few times a month 25%
  • Less than once a month 20%
  • About once a week 6%
  • A few times a week 2.2%

AmCham greatly appreciates all members who participated in the survey. The organization aims to do a survey every year to gauge the membership’s interests and monitor the organization’s performance.

To thank the community for participating in the survey, a lucky draw contest was held and three lucky winners were selected:

  • Alex Lin from Herbalife
  • Ronald Chen from Santa Fe Relocation
  • Jay Yu from Monolithic Power Systems

The chamber always welcomes suggestions, complaints and encouragement from members. If you didn’t have a chance to complete the survey or have feedback you would like to share, please contact us here.

AmCham’s “Underground Ambassador” recalls the crisis of 1979

AmCham Taipei held a special luncheon on April 18 at the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, to reflect on the important role it played in contributing to the drafting of the Taiwan Relations Act 40 years ago.

We were honored to have former Chairman Robert Parker (office title then President) back to reminisce about the events following the U.S. decision to sever ties with Taiwan. He showed video clips of his testimony before U.S. Congressional committees in February 1979 that stressed the need to strengthen the draft legislation prepared by the Carter administration to govern future U.S. Taiwan relations. AmCham urged that the bill include U.S. support for Taiwan’s security and establish a clear legal foundation for interaction between the two governments.

Watch more clippings of Parker’s testimony: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

In addition, AmCham at that time stepped forward to ensure that various U.S. community institutions, including the Taipei American School, American Club, English-language radio station, and youth organizations could continue to operate smoothly after derecognition. It’s a period the Chamber looks back on with pride, and one of the prime examples of how the organization works for the best interests of both the U.S. and Taiwan.

Robert Parker was welcomed by AmCham President William Foreman, former Presidents, Taiwan Business TOPICS Editor-in-chief Don Shapiro, and members of the Chamber.

Xia Jingshan’s art and charity celebrated at Cherry Blossom Festival

The Xia Jingshan Arts & Culture Foundation hosted a salon in the scenic surroundings of New Taipei City’s Shiding district, in the company of many VIP guests.

The idyllic mountain retreat of Wuji Tianming Temple (无极天明宫) was the venue on March 16 for a culturally exciting event that celebrated the life, work and charitable endeavors of the renowned painter and calligrapher Xia Jingshan (夏荊山).

Major original works by the artist were on show, some not seen in Taiwan before, including the masterpiece, Dragon King Worships Avalokiteśvara. There was also a classical music recital, explications of Jingshan’s paintings, and the seasonal beauty of the cherry blossom season to admire.

Though the 96-year-old artist who lives in California was unable to attend due to a recent illness, prominent businessmen and politicians such as Legislator (and former Legislative Yuan speaker) Wang Jin-pyng attended the “2019 Cherry Blossom Festival – Ode to Spring: Xia Jing Shan Calligraphy and Painting Art Connoisseurship Salon.” The appearance of former legislative speaker Wang drew considerable media attention, as he had recently announced his bid for the Kuomintang nomination for president.

Also present were AmCham Taipei President William Foreman, Honorary Director of Taiwan Public Welfare Research Institute Wu Xiting, Wuji Tianming Temple Director Cai Qionghui, Xia Jingshan Arts & Culture Foundation Chairperson Susie Shiah, and President of Meifu Real Estate Hou Yuantang.

Xia Jingshan Arts & Culture Foundation CEO Chao Chung-chieh  said this was the first time the dreamlike, eight-meter long painting Dragon King Worships Avalokiteśvara had been displayed in Taiwan. Chao said that since the Xia Jingshan Arts & Culture Foundation was launched at the beginning of 2014, it had been committed to education, academic research and cultivating talent.

William Foreman, pointed out that AmCham and Xia Jingshan Arts & Culture Foundation share the same floor in an office building on Minsheng East Road in Taipei. “I feel so fortunate to have Xia Jingshan as a neighbor because every day when I pass by the Foundation’s gallery, I stop to admire the beautiful art,” he said. “The paintings inspire me and put me in a calm, contemplative mood that helps me throughout the day.”

Susie Shiah, who is Xia Jingshan’s daughter, said the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and art salon was a way of ensuring that her father’s legacy continues.

Xia was born in China’s Shandong province and was from a young age inspired by Buddhism. He moved to Taiwan and in the 1970s studied in the United States. He helped repair Longxing Temple in Shandong and his works of art went into space with the Shenzhou VII spaceship. His Buddhist paintings and calligraphy are famed and have been shown at many of the world’s leading galleries and museums.

The event was co-organized by Xia Jingshan Arts & Culture Foundation, The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, Tianming Temple, Taipei Medical Alliance, Taiwan Philanthropic Study Institution, Xia Jingshan Academy of Nanjing University, Wei Chuan Corporation and the International Management Program of Prague College.

Takeways from the APCAC Business Summit

AmCham Taipei President William Foreman recently attended a two-day business summit in Hong Kong organized by the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC).  The group represents AmChams across the region.

The summit is an annual event that attracts CEOs, diplomats, government officials and other key influencers. This year’s theme was: “The Future of U.S. Trade and Investment in Asia.”

Over the course of two days, the program was packed with keynote speeches and numerous panel discussions. Here are just a few key takeaways:

  • Don’t believe the headlines. The U.S. is not in retreat in the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. companies are still trading and investing here more than any other country.
  • American companies are still the key standard setters that promote openness, transparency, fair markets and growth driven by the private sector.
  • We’re not seeing the end of globalization. We’re just seeing it evolve.
  • China is catching up fast. It’s investment has quadrupled over the past five years. China has an advantage because it has a plan, a long-term vision. The U.S. needs one.
  • Developed nations are struggling to find a way to compete with China’s model of state-driven capitalism. Often, openness is a handicap when going up against China Inc.
  • Eventually, there will be some kind of U.S.-China trade deal. When that happens, the focus in the relationship will shift to the next big theme: technology.
  • Many of the headlines (and tweets) coming out of Washington are discouraging. But now it’s more important than ever to get engaged with AmCham to change the conversation. If you don’t, you’ll be even more disappointed.

Next year’s APCAC summit will be in Singapore. And, it will definitely be a must-attend event for the Chamber!

Insights from Germany: Fighting Misinformation

In the digital age, false and misleading information can spread to millions instantly and manipulate public opinion. The issue of misinformation or fake news has preoccupied policymakers around the world, especially when it comes to elections.

To help enhance understanding of the issue, AmCham Taipei invited experts to explain different approaches to combating misinformation at a forum entitled, “Tackling Misinformation – Lessons Learned from Germany and Path Forward for Taiwan.” Dr. Ting-Chi Liu, Associate Professor of Law at National Chengchi University, and Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, Director of the Hans-Bredow-Institut for Media Research and Professor of Law at the Universität Hamburg, discussed the legal approaches in Taiwan and Germany to dealing with misinformation and shared their insights on this important matter. Special guests that attended the event were legislators Karen Yu and Lee-Li Feng.

Opening the session at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on February 21, Liu explained the status of freedom of expression in Taiwan and platform liability under proposed draft legislation. He noted the three elements of punishable misinformation according to the Executive Yuan: 1) malice; 2) falsity; and 3) harm.

Schulz gave examples of incidents that led to the German NetzDG (Network Enforcement Act). He explained the regulatory concept behind the law and its importance, as many big players in the tech industry with operations in Germany have recently been affected by NetzDG.

As Taiwan will likely continue to refer to NetzDG in the near future, Schulz highlighted some of the criticisms of the law made by academics and industry experts:

  • Difficulty defining the scope of “Big Social Media Networks”
  • Creation of incentives for overblocking, as take-down is the easiest option for platform providers
  • Lack of technical means for taking the proper context into account
  • Impact on free speech as companies will try to avoid fines

What will be the best approach for the handling of misinformation in Taiwan? Perhaps a 360-degree approach for a more open communication among the authorities, private sector, and the public could strike a good balance between self-regulation and regulation. The event ended with a panel discussion moderated by Jo-Fan Yu, Partner at Baker & McKenzie. Joining the discussion were Dr. Ting-Chi Liu, Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, and legislators Karen Yu and Lee Li-Feng.

 

 

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

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.

Micron Hosts AmCham Taipei Field Trip

A group of 24 AmCham Taipei members and Chamber staff took part in a field trip to the Taoyuan plant of Micron Technology on February 15. They heard an excellent briefing from Lin Kiat Yap, Chairman of Micron Technology Taiwan and Vice President of the Boise-Idaho based parent company, about the memory industry and Micron’s leading role in it. Then the visitors donned masks and “bunny suits” to tour the largest cleanroom (20,000 square meters) in the facility.

In his briefing, Yap outlined Micron’s growth from a four-partner startup in the basement of a dental clinic in Boise in 1978 to its position today as the world’s third largest memory company, with annual revenue of more than US$30 billion. The company has 34,000 employees worldwide and holds more than 40,000 patents.

Micron has the distinction of being the largest foreign investor in Taiwan. Besides the plant in Taoyuan’s Guishan, it also has facilities in the Central Taiwan Science Park in Taichung. The company has established a Center of Excellence in Taiwan to troubleshoot any production problems found in Micron plants around the world and devise solutions.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

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.