How Taiwan is helping change the world

  • April 19, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Steve Rogerson reflects on his visit to Taipei last week.

Taipei Ampa.

All countries transform and evolve, but some more than others. Taiwan falls into the “more” category.

I have been going to the independent island state for many years and have been impressed with how it continually reinvents itself. Whatever the technology trends of the day, Taiwan is there, doing it cheaper and often better than others around the world.

And it does this under the shadow of China, which still claims the island as its own. China might be better rethinking its strategy here as it directly benefits economically from Taiwan’s innovations, with many of the country’s largest companies building factories in China to meet their production goals. It is a boat China is probably better not rocking,

I was in Taiwan last week enjoying the atmosphere, the night market food, and the beer – yes, Taiwan has a booming craft beer industry, another example of it reinventing itself. My visit though was to attend Taipei Ampa, an annual automotive show that has also changed over the years with the technology and the market. This year was no exception as the whole concept of e-mobility became the major talking point.

Chern-Chyi Chen: “We want to see a more electric and autonomous future.”

The scene was set during the opening ceremony when Chern-Chyi Chen, deputy minister at the government’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), talked about how the government was funding the transition to electric buses and electric taxis, and its work in promoting sustainability. This, he hoped, would see the people of Taiwan moving from the traditional motorcycles – there have always been loads of them – to more sustainable e-scooters.

“We have been building a charging infrastructure for e-scooters,” he said. “We are also developing some of the most cutting-edge technologies such as AI and IoT as we want to see a more electric and autonomous future.”

Energy companies too pushed this message. Alessandro Sossa, project manager at Delta Electronics, said: “As cities get more EVs, we want them to be more efficient, so we are producing energy storage and software to create smart microgrids. This is part of the dream sustainable cities desire.”

That would be good because where better to lead by example in the smart city world that on this high-tech island. Taipei already has a public transport system envied by many, and I have always been pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to navigate and understand.

I also saw at the show inter-city buses that can recharge in minutes and earlier this month Taiwan announced closer collaboration on smart cities with Japan.

While politicians in China and the USA argue over the country’s status, its engineers just get on with the job of pushing the limits of technology. So, hands off China! Leave Taiwan alone, and both China and the rest of the world will benefit.

Alessandro Sossa: “Part of the dream.”