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Can Taiwan's Economic Miracle Persevere?

5) Industrial Upgrade-end of '80s and early '90s saw the U.S. economy deep in cyclical recession caused by the end of the cold war and military spending cuts. A lot of Taiwanese American engineers and scientists became the victims of company downsizing and lost their jobs. The U.S. is the biggest beneficiary of Taiwan's brain-drain as each year more than 10,000 came to study and majority of them elected to stay in the U.S.-most of them science/technology majors. They were well-groomed in the latest technology and were now out of jobs. This happened to coincide with Taiwan's economy running into a bottleneck, desperately needing to replace its labor-intensive industries with ones of high capital and technology. So through industrial and academic/research institutions' channels, a perfect match-making was done and a lot of these top brains relocated back to Taiwan and contributed to the first industrial upgrade there. So far this effort has been limited to the peripheral computer industry mostly, rather than the real high tech areas requiring R& D expenditures-a sign that indicates substantive and urgent assistance from the government and universities is needed, much like any other areas of industrial upgrade being contemplated now.


The Real Reasons-The Internal Forces

1) Sense of Crisis-driven by the perpetual hostility and threat from a very unfriendly superpower neighbor China, Taiwanese people feel the constant pressure to have to excel in everything they do just to survive. And survive they have under their various colonial masters, always having to work extra hard to gain approval. Always maximum efforts. Example: paddy fields tilled all the way to the railroad tracks. Not an inch wasted. Former President Billy Carter was in a sense right, when, responding to a reporter in Taiwan that he hurt the Taiwanese people by switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, he said that he gave Taiwan a chance to emerge from a crisis and become better.


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