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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.

 

 

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Promoting Taiwan as a Liver Health Center of Excellence

Republic of China Vice President Chen Chien-jen, an epidemiologist with a background in researching hepatitis B, was the keynote speaker at the Taiwan Liver Health Forum sponsored by AmCham Taipei together with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). The event, held at the Howard-Plaza Hotel on October 3, was attended by 90-some guests from government, the medical community, and industry.

The idea for the forum grew out of a suggestion by AmCham Taipei’s Public Health Committee in the 2018 Taiwan White Paper that Taiwan strive to become the “Liver Health Center of Excellence in Asia.” Participants in the forum confirmed the validity of that goal, citing Taiwan’s pioneering work in past decades in controlling hepatitis B through vaccination and the government’s progress toward eradicating hepatitis C in the coming decade in line with World Health Organization objectives.

Hepatitis is endemic in this part of the world, and is considered a major health risk because it often leads to liver cancer. Among the points made by speakers at the forum were the importance of increasing the amount of screening conducted in Taiwan for hepatitis C. Although the effort would lead to higher healthcare expenditures in the near term, in the long-run it will substantially save costs due to reduced hospitalization and mortality, as well as heightened productivity.

Speakers also called for further expansion of clinical trials in Taiwan, more public education to raise awareness regarding liver health, and workplace programs to encourage more screening.

Opening remarks at the forum were delivered by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen and MOHW Deputy Minister Ho Chi-kung. In his half-hour keynote address, Vice President used a PowerPoint presentation to brief the audience on Taiwan’s past successes in combating liver disease. Other speakers were Dr. Kao Jia-horng, president of the Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver; Dr. Pwu Raoh-fang, director of the MOHW National Hepatitis C Program Office; Dr. Homie Razavi, managing director of the U.S. Center for Disease Analysis; and Dr. Chiu Chang-fang, vice president of China Medical University Hospital.

Two panel discussions were moderated by Ramanathan Velayutham, Taiwan general manager for AbbVie Biopharmaceutical, and Pang Lai-li, Taiwan managing director for Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), respectively. Aside from the speakers, the panelists included Dr. Lee Po-chang, director-general of the National Health Insurance Administration; and Bristol-Myers Squibb General Manager Sophia Lee. AmCham Taipei President William Foreman gave closing remarks.

Platinum sponsors for the event were Abbvie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Gilead Sciences. MSD was a silver sponsor.

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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.

Amendments to the Company Act

Recognizing the need to enhance Taiwan’s business environment to stay competitive in the global market, the Tsai administration has enacted a series of ambitious policy changes and legal amendments aimed at stimulating innovation and growth. Most fundamental to these goals are the sweeping changes made to the Company Act, Taiwan’s basic law governing business operations, that were passed by the Legislative Yuan in a late session on July 5 and promulgated into law on August 1.

To help AmCham members and guests better understand the scale and implications of these amendments, AmCham Taipei’s Tax Committee invited Chen Yen-po, Executive Specialist with the Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), to host an explanatory seminar in the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on September 13. Chen and the MOEA worked closely not only with the Legislative Yuan but also the private sector, including business professionals, legal experts, and academics, on enacting the amendments. Chen noted that 148 articles to the Company Act were amended, with at least four articles deleted and replaced.

From left to right: Chen Yen-po, Executive Specialist with the Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and AmCham Taipei’s Insurance Committee Co-Chair Dylan Tyson, President & CEO, Prudential Life Insurance Company of Taiwan Inc.

Key amendments are intended to:

  • Enhance business transparency by clarifying reporting obligations and abolishing anonymous “bearer shares.”
  • Improve the environment for startups by permitting the issuance of non-par-value shares, as well as permitting multiple distribution of cash dividends throughout the year.
  • Enable greater flexibility in business operations by furthering the gradual digitalization of documentation, increasing the range of rewards possible for talent, and reducing restrictions on directorships.
  • Strengthen shareholder protections by amending rules on shareholder meetings and the nomination of directors.
  • Improve corporate governance through enhancing disclosure requirements and access to shareholder rosters.
  • Allow the registration of company names in English so as to help foster international business operations and branding.

Chen added that the MOEA is currently in the process of developing the regulatory framework that will see these amendments enter into force. His presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session.

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. 

CSR Forum Focuses on Social Enterprises

Describing social enterprises as an “important part of Taiwan’s soft power,” Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, hailed their ability to meld the pursuit of social interests and business profits – forces usually thought of as being in conflict – to facilitate the search for common shared values and solutions. She made her remarks as the keynote speaker at the 2018 edition of AmCham Taipei’s annual CSR Forum, sponsored by JTI Taiwan and held at the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Social enterprises are defined as organizations that apply business solutions to social problems.

“Treat social issues as opportunities, not roadblocks,” advised Tang. “And no matter what you do, seek to build off of the energy of those around you.”

Other speakers at the forum were Sabrina Chen, CEO of Flow Inc., the first Taiwanese social enterprise; Stephanie Chan, CEO of Blueseeds, producer of 100% environmentally friendly household products; and Jianjia “Ajia” Gong, founder and Veterinary Officer of Pure Milk Ltd., a platform that connects dairy farmers and consumers.

Chen introduced Flow’s efforts to assist the disabled after rounds of interviewing people with disabilities showed that unemployment levels in this segment of the population are much higher than government statistics indicate. She noted that the disabled fall into one of three categories:

“They’re either functional enough to get jobs, so dysfunctional they qualify for government support, or they’re in between and neglected.”

This third group became Flow’s target population. “They very much want to work, and they are able to,” said Chen. “But they’re being displaced in [the service] industry, where they are competing with other disadvantaged people – those with low income, the elderly, and young people with little education. We asked ourselves: ‘What kinds of tech won’t become obsolete? How can we create opportunities where the weak don’t displace the weak?’ You need something that is sustainable and scalable.”

After some investigation, she settled on offering services in Building Information Modeling (BIM) as Flow’s first effort to provide employment opportunities for the disabled. “It’s the process of building a digital representation of a physical structure before you start building the actual thing,” Chen explains. She notes that you “need a group of people to do it, it’s a skill that can be learned, and it’s something that will always be necessary.”

Stressing the need for social enterprises to be financially viable, Stephanie Chan discussed Blueseeds’ difficult first three years when it was rapidly burning cash. “Because we want to stick to both 100% natural products and production processes, we can’t rely on standard farming practices that involve pesticides and heavy machinery,” she explained. “So our work is labor intensive, and our product was being eaten up by the birds and insects in the ecosystem.”

Cautioning persistence, she notes that many organic farmers give up within the first three years. In Blueseeds’ case, it only became profitable after three years, and since then the return on investment has been high. The message: perseverance pays off.

The advice from Pure Milk’s Gong was that “growth will come organically if you find the right partners with similar values.” But you “have to take time to understand what potential partners value, since sometimes what people say they value is different from what they really do.” For Pure Milk the key values are taking proper care of the dairy cows, practicing eco-friendly farming, and producing milk of the highest quality.

Gong said the idea for starting Pure Milk came after he noticed the large disparity in how well dairy farms were managed in Taiwan, yet “milk from farms that pay attention to animal welfare and environmental protection was worth the same as milk from farms that don’t.” The enterprise is partnering with four farms that share its high standards, helping them market their product to ensure they receive the return they deserve.

“As it turns out,” says Gong, pampered animals produce better milk.”

From left to right: AmCham’s CSR Committee Co-Chair Lume Liao, Deputy Secretary-General, Association of Chain and Franchise Promotion; Aga (龔建嘉), Founder and Veterinarian of I Love Milk (鮮乳坊); Stephanie Chan, Chief Executive Officer of Blueseeds (芙彤園); Audrey Tang, Minister without Portfolio of the Executive Yuan; Sabrina Chen, Chief Executive Officer of Flow (若水); CSR Committee Co-Chair Fupei Wang, Managing Director of Ogilvy PR; and AmCham Taipei President William Foreman.

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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.

Brand Building in the Digital Era

Today’s increasingly digital world demands new ways to build and manage brands. To ensure brand relevance, brand building calls for a new approach to connect and deliver brand behavior and experiences.

On July 27, Simon Koh, founder of Big Data Play Brand, to make a Chinese-language presentation entitled “大數據狂潮下的品牌策略” (Brand Strategies Under the Big Data Frenzy) at the AmCham Taipei’s Lincoln Room. He provided an overview of brand management fundamentals to give attendees a full understanding of how to build a compelling brand and how branding has changed in recent years.

Koh described four types of brands 1) Asset-Driven, 2) Service-Driven, 3) Technology-Driven, and 4) Network-Driven to showcase examples of different business models. A network-driven brand involves brand building through different platforms and ecosystems. In a disruptive era, consumers are exposed to more than 3,500 brands on a daily basis, compared to 2,000 brands just a decade ago. He noted that customers may experience a certain brand through multiple channels and touchpoints, sometimes even in a non-physical world, where machines and algorithms are responsible for deciding the role of the brand.

Koh stressed that in order to transform a brand and build relevance, an organization must understand its market, leverage new tools, generate insights, and measure its success.

From left to right: AmCham Taipei President William Foreman and speaker Simon Koh, founder of Big Data Play Brand.

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

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. 

Navigating Trade in the Time of Trump

The United States under the Trump administration has dramatically stepped up its use of economic sanctions against nations, firms, and even individuals that it accuses of a wide range of violations of international law. Given Taiwan’s dependency on trade and its close ties with U.S. suppliers and customers, Taiwanese firms are on the frontlines of sanctions risks, and at least nine Taiwanese entities have found themselves on the U.S. “blacklist” of sanctions violators.

Adam Smith, a former U.S. senior sanctions official during the Obama administration, recently visited Taiwan to offer his views on how Taiwan’s businesses can navigate these treacherous waters. At a presentation on “Understanding and Navigating the Risk of Economic Sanctions in the Trump Era,” held at AmCham Taipei’s Lincoln Room on May 17, Smith offered his perspective on why trade sanctions are being deployed so frequently. He noted that sanctions can be wielded under the sole authority of the president, are highly flexible and effective, and “they cost the government nothing,” in contrast to other measures such as military interventions that put people and materiel at risk.

The impact of sanctions by the U.S. can be huge, forcing rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea to the negotiating table and impacting some of the world’s largest companies, such as China tech-behemoth ZTE Co., which found itself on the U.S. “blacklist” by dint of its continued trading with sanctioned nations. Sanctions cut off ZTE from its supply chain of U.S. components and within days of being singled out by Trump, ZTE declared that it could no longer operate.

Only U.S. persons or entities are directly required to act in accordance with U.S. issued sanctions. However, any transaction involving U.S. financial institutions must also comply with such sanctions, and as 87% of global trade occurs in US dollars, this means that the vast majority of global businesses are required to comply. Refusing to comply, or inadvertently violating sanctions, could result in being placed on the blacklist and banned from participating in most global trade. Further, products that contain a minimum of 10% components produced in the United States are also considered to be U.S. goods and their makers are likewise expected to comply.

To avoid falling afoul of U.S. sanctions regime, Smith advises companies to develop “a compliance system, policies, and processes internally, but also figuring out what your exposure looks like.” Smith says that companies need to ask take thorough inventory of their own and their trade partners’ activities. “The more you know… the more you can explain it, if need be,” says Smith.

 Listen to audio clips to learn more: 

From left to right: Adam Smith, former senior sanctions official in the U.S. Government and Partner of Gibson Dunn; AmCham Taipei President William Foreman

 

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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.

Cross Cultural Leadership and Blind Spots

The presentation at an AmCham Special Luncheon on April 18 at Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel focused on the role of effective leadership in enhancing employee engagement. The speaker, Gerard Hei, is CEO of Dale Carnegie Taiwan.

The presentation, “Uncovering Leadership Blind Spots and Discovering the Pathway to Motivating Your Employees,” first established why engagement is so important. It significantly impacts absenteeism, turnover, productivity, profitability, sales, and quality. There are three kinds of employees: fully engaged, partially engaged, and disengaged. According to a global study, in Taiwan only 8% of employees are rated as fully engaged, compared to 29% globally, while 44% are disengaged, much more than the 24% globally.

The way to increase employee motivation and business results is to provide employees with more effective leaders, said Hei. When employees are very satisfied with their immediate supervisor and with senior leaders, many more are fully engaged and very few are disengaged.

Leaders need to do four key things to inspire and motivate their employees:

  • Express sincere praise and appreciation
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity
  • Freely admit when they are wrong
  • Listen to and value employees’ opinions

From left to right: AmCham’s Public Health Committee Co-Chair Joyce Lee, General Manager, Bristol-Myers Squibb (Taiwan) Ltd.; AmCham Taipei President William Foreman; Speaker Gerard Hei, CEO of Dale Carnegie Taiwan; AmCham’s HR Committee Co-Chair Monica Han, Country HR Leader, 3M Taiwan Ltd.

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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.

The Subtle Arts of Persuasion and Negotiation

Whatever your position, the ability to communicate, connect, and influence others to achieve your desired outcomes is essential to being successful.

Nick Coburn-Palo, a member of the Taipei American School faculty and Consulting Trainer at UNITAR, held a workshop at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room, entitled “The Subtle Arts of Persuasion and Negotiation” on March 8. The program was aimed at helping individuals develop core skills necessary to persuade and negotiate across a wide variety of potentially contentious situations.

During the session, Coburn-Palo shared with AmCham members and guests the techniques leaders use, in speaking and writing, to influence and persuade others for win-win outcomes. Through different case studies from the worlds of politics, business, and family life, he gave participants a chance to understand human behaviors, how people process information, and when and why negotiations may breakdown.

The session concluded with three key takeaways:

  • Embrace soft variables:  pay attention to personality traits, characteristics, physical space, and time
  • Maintain flexibility: the desired outcome may not be the most advantageous; win-win outcomes sometimes mean getting 50%
  • Remember your audience: negotiations and debates have different audiences – make sure the approach taken is based the audience and context.

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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.

Labor Inspection Enforcement Seminar

The latest amendments to the Labor Standards Act went into effect on March 1, 2018. This regulation has sparked a great deal of controversy and uncertainty. In order to protect the interests of both companies and employees, corporate HR departments need to be equipped with a full knowledge of the new labor rules and how they will be implemented.

To help provide that information, on February 26 AmCham Taipei’s Human Resources Committee invited Chiang Ming-chih, director of the Taipei City Labor Inspection Office, and Hu Hua-tai, director of the New Taipei City Labor Standards Inspection Office, to explain how the labor inspection system will be carried out and to take questions from the audience. Over one hundred Chamber members and guests gathered at The Sherwood Taipei for this event.

The two directors specified that organizations with the following conditions will be placed at the top of the list for inspection:

  • Having been previously reported for violation of labor laws
  • Using a shift system
  • Having non-standard working hours
  • Hiring hourly-rate or part-time workers

During the panel discussion, the majority of the questions focused on practical issues that arose from past experiences, ranging from the calculation of working hours to wage payment deadlines.

Chiang and Hu strongly urged HR managers to establish an effective internal communication channel and to reinforce employee management as the key to resolution of workplace disputes.

From left to right: AmCham HR Committee Co-chair Seraphim Ma, Senior Partner, Baker & McKenzie; Hu Hua-Tai, director of the New Taipei City Labor Standards Inspection Office; Chiang Ming-chih, director of the Taipei City Labor Inspection Office; AmCham HR Committee Co-chair Vicky Chen, Head of Human Resources, Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) Ltd.; and AmCham Taipei President William Foreman.

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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.

The Future of Adaptive Marketing

The average attention span has declined significantly in recent decades. In 2000, our concentration could still last for 12 seconds. In 2015, the number dropped to eight seconds. Owning multiple communications devices and using them simultaneously have become an integral part of our lives. Plus, today’s consumers are no longer satisfied to stay on the receiving end of the information flow. Consumer engagement is customarily expected when it comes to marketing.

Due to all these changes, marketing has become extremely complicated. There seem to be no rules to follow anymore.

From left to right: AmCham President Andrea Wu; Geese Niu, Business Director, MindShare Communications Taiwan; Speaker Susan Chao, Managing Director of Mindshare Communications Taiwan; Travel and Tourism Committee Co-Chair Achim v. Hake, General Manager, The Sherwood Taipei.

To map out a path for the future of marketing, Susan Chao, Managing Director of Mindshare Communications Taiwan, was invited to speak on “The Future of Adaptive Marketing” at an AmCham Taipei special luncheon at The Sherwood Taipei on December 7. Chao’s presentation outlined three strategies to successful marketing today:

  • Involve multiple media channels to generate a more powerful information flow.
  • Capture and interact with consumers.
  • Utilize adaptive marketing – tailoring advertising approaches based on individual data – for greater effectiveness and efficiency than traditional marketing.

Adaptive marketing involves the collection of user data, customization of the advertising content according to personal preferences, and delivery of the content through the channels guaranteed to reach the target audience. Customized information increases the opportunity to seize the attention of the desired targets within a short period of time, before their focus drifts to another device.

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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.