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May 24, 2017

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Hsinchu honors foreigner with Certificate of Appreciation

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- U.S. citizen Ted Knoy (柯泰德) was awarded with a "Certificate of Appreciation" by Hsinchu City Mayor Hsu Ming-tsai (許明財) in recognition to his educational contributions to the area, yesterday.

Knoy's contributions to the nation's education system over the past 23 years won him the recognition. Knoy received his Alien Permanent Residency Certificate (APRC) in 2000, when he became the first foreigner in Hsinchu and first American in Taiwan to receive it.

Upon receiving the certificate, Knoy said, "This recognition is especially important for me personally since, as of November this year, I will have spend most of my life here in Taiwan, after first arriving here as a 24-year-old back in 1989."

Knoy received his teaching certificate from the Ministry of Education and taught technical writing at both National Tsing Hua University and National Chiao Tung University.

As an English editor of several technical and scientific publications in Taiwan, he has edited over 55,000 articles for publication since his arrival in Taiwan.

In addition to authoring 14 books on technical and professional English writing, Ted also served as an associate researcher in Union Chemical Laboratories, Industrial Technology Research Institute between 1994 and 2002.

July 21, 2013    CURTISAKBAR@
He has spent the majority of his life in Taiwan but he hasn't bothered changing his nationality, I wonder why? 24yrs and only now getting an APRC, WHAT HAS HE BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME?
July 22, 2013    nathalie@
@curtisbaker

I've lived and worked in Taiwan for 21 years. Why would I change my nationality? In my country of origin, I know of Taiwanese having resided there for about the same time span. Why would they change their nationality? Hence - as to your last question: what are you really trying to say? That you can't stand foreigners?
July 23, 2013    tedknoy@
CURTISAKBAR@ wrote:
He has spent the majority of his life in Taiwan but he hasn't bothered changing his nationality, I wonder why? 24yrs and only now getting an APRC, WHAT HAS HE BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME?
I already received my permanent residency in 2000. The recognition is for education not permanent residency.
July 27, 2013    curtisakbar@
I understand Ted, its basically an honorary title.

@nathale

I was just questioning why wouldn't you change your nationality if you have lived in a new country so long that it is your home.

By gaining a new nationality it removes hurdles and makes life easier. The hurdles in countries like USA, UK, France, Germany etc. are small. But in some countries including Taiwan these hurdles are quite large and impact on every day life.
August 4, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
I understand Ted, its basically an honorary title.

@nathale

I was just questioning why wouldn't you change your nationality if you have lived in a new country so long that it is your home.

By gaining a new nationality it removes hurdles and makes life easier. The hurdles in countries like USA, UK, France, Germany etc. are small. But in some countries including Taiwan these hurdles are quite large and impact on every day life.
I was born in the United States and lived there for 23 years, so I will keep my nationality there. I do not feel like I have any hurdles living in Taiwan with Taiwan permanent residency and United States nationality. As a permanent resident, I own property in Taiwan in my name and am entitled to the same rights as citizens except for voting. The Taiwan Government is increasingly offering government social services to permanent residents that it once previously provided for its citizens. Still, I consider Taiwan as my home, having lived here nearly 25 years and am grateful for the opportunities it has provided me.
August 5, 2013    curtisakbar@
I can understand why you wouldn't give up being American in exchange for a ROC passport, as let's face it, an American passport opens more doors.

But don't you find it annoying not being able to use certain online shopping sites, IBON machines and other things that require your ID number and because ARCs and APRCs have two letters unlike ROC IDs that have one letter, it doesn't accept your ID.

But each to their own. If these things don't bother you and you find life easy, why change.
August 6, 2013    skyhermit@
When Taiwan changes its laws to allow dual nationality...I'll become 'Taiwanese'. Until then, I see no logical reason to give up my US passport ---which is required for those seeking ROC citizenship.

BTW...Curtis Baker is a well known troll who enjoys sparking online flame wars.

Forcing someone to give up their original nationality is unnecessary and might even be seen as somewhat racist or xenophobic. I've lived here for 30 years, speak Chinese fluently, am married to a local, have 2 kids and an APRC. When the day comes that I can be a dual citizen...count me in.
August 6, 2013    tedknoy@
skyhermit@ wrote:
When Taiwan changes its laws to allow dual nationality...I'll become 'Taiwanese'. Until then, I see no logical reason to give up my US passport ---which is required for those seeking ROC citizenship.

BTW...Curtis Baker is a well known troll who enjoys sparking online flame wars.

Forcing someone to give up their original nationality is unnecessary and might even be seen as somewhat racist or xenophobic. I've lived here for 30 years, speak Chinese fluently, am married to a local, have 2 kids and an APRC. When the day comes that I can be a dual citizen...count me in.
Thank you for your words of encouragement. It’s nice to be in contact with other foreigners like yourself who have already obtained their APRC. Confidentiality laws in Taiwan do not allow for a public list of who has already obtained APRCs in Taiwan, making it difficult to form any kind of island wide venue of discussion about living with an APRC and some of the kinks in the system that have not yet been settled...well because its all so new. So I am grateful for forums like these that can put me in touch with other foreigners with APRCs.

The kinks in the APRC system are slowly being worked out, although minor problems still persist, such as logging into some online services with the ID number.

Since you have lived here longer than I have, you have seen Taiwan come a long way in making room for us foreigners in society. Things can be slow at times, but I am optimistic.

Thanks again for your comments and lets keep in touch. You can find my contact information on the social media.
Ted Knoy
August 6, 2013    curtisakbar@
SKYHOMO who is the troll now starting wars?

FYI Taiwan does allow dual nationality, but it is a** backwards as you first need to be a ROC citizen before you can gain a second nationality.

The USA requires people to give up their previous loyalties and there is some discussion as to this means renounce their previous nationality. If this happens, would you consider it to be somewhat racist or xenophobic?
August 6, 2013    edann77@
Ted Knoy, skyhermit@, and nathalie@

I admire all of you, and the nameless others who have made such a long term quiet commitment to Taiwan. Especially those who have given up potentially greater financial compensation in their original home countries... may I say for love. Kudos to you all, and cheers!
August 7, 2013    tedknoy@
edann77@ wrote:
Ted Knoy, skyhermit@, and nathalie@

I admire all of you, and the nameless others who have made such a long term quiet commitment to Taiwan. Especially those who have given up potentially greater financial compensation in their original home countries... may I say for love. Kudos to you all, and cheers!
Thank you for redirecting the discussion on this forum towards the intent of this article: foreigners like me and countless others have settled down here and found a way to contribute to Taiwan. This also reflects the amazing progress that Taiwan has made in accepting overseas nationals and accommodating those who want to contribute and spend the rest of their lives here.

Through this online forum, I am encouraged to be in contact with other long term foreigners living in Taiwan so we can discuss some of our challenges in making Taiwan our lifetime home. You can find my contact information on the social media. Thank you.

Ted Knoy
August 7, 2013    bowuyan@
Read the relevant nationality laws of the ROC, they are on-line. The ROC does allow for dual nationality, but only for ROC citizens, not foreigners.

Furthermore, if you are under 44 years old, you still must do military service to acquire ROC citizenship.

I lived in Taiwan for 20 years, and served in government for +10 years. I could have gotten permanent residency easily, but left the country for various reasons to head back to Canada.

As Ted notes, things are moving, but very slowly, as you all know. The LY generally doesn’t give a damn about facilitating foreigners’ life in Taiwan, unless lawmakers come under pressure. Some of them are really eager to help.

Contrast this to Singapore, which gives white foreign collar workers a passport immediately after they get employment with a local firm! No notion there of giving up your nationality.

Taiwan will get there at some point. It has to: it already has a negative birthrate, and will become in form what has always been in essence, an immigrant’s country.

PS: the immigration law, which I edited/translated various times over my years of service in the Gov., is a tortuous peace of paper. It should be completely revamped.

Cheers
August 8, 2013    tedknoy@
edann77@, skyhermit@, and nathalie@ :

Thank you for the constructive and supportive comments above.

I have wanted to communicate with other foreigners living long term in Taiwan for a long time regarding the Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC). The Taiwan Government is adding more and more benefits to the APRC...such as not requiring APRC residents to renew their licenses in the future along with other Taiwan citizens. There is even a draft provision on allowing social services for APRC residents who are in need, similar to Taiwan citizens.

What benefits or conditions should be added to the current APRC that would fully address the long term needs of foreigners who have decided to spend the rest of their lives in Taiwan? Or what gaps in the current law should be addressed to make the APRC more effective?

Thanks,
Ted Knoy
August 8, 2013    tedknoy@
tedknoy@ wrote:
edann77@, skyhermit@, and nathalie@ :

Thank you for the constructive and supportive comments above.

I have wanted to communicate with other foreigners living long term in Taiwan for a long time regarding the Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC). The Taiwan Government is adding more and more benefits to the APRC...such as not requiring APRC residents to renew their licenses in the future along with other Taiwan citizens. There is even a draft provision on allowing social services for APRC residents who are in need, similar to Taiwan citizens.

What benefits or conditions should be added to the current APRC that would fully address the long term needs of foreigners who have decided to spend the rest of their lives in Taiwan? Or what gaps in the current law should be addressed to make the APRC more effective?

Thanks,
Ted Knoy
Thank you for your insight, especially since you were involved in the editing and translation of immigration law during your years in government service. I would be interested in hearing what you think what specific additions should be made to the current APRC...more than just requirements to get it but actual long term benefits that APRC holders should have as they live out the rest of their lives in Taiwan. Thanks again for your comment and I hope we can keep in touch in the future. Like I mentioned earlier, I wish there was some kind of government mechanism in Taiwan where current APRC holders could contact each other, meet and discuss some of their concerns.
Ted Knoy
August 8, 2013    curtisakbar@
@Ted

The most obvious flaw is having two letters in your ID instead of one, also being able to enroll into the government pension would help.

Revoke the 180 day tax rule and get rid of the risk of losing your APRC if out the country for more than 6 years..

August 8, 2013    CURTISAKBAR@
tedknoy@ wrote:
edann77@, skyhermit@, and nathalie@ :

Thank you for the constructive and supportive comments above.

I have wanted to communicate with other foreigners living long term in Taiwan for a long time regarding the Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC). The Taiwan Government is adding more and more benefits to the APRC...such as not requiring APRC residents to renew their licenses in the future along with other Taiwan citizens. There is even a draft provision on allowing social services for APRC residents who are in need, similar to Taiwan citizens.

What benefits or conditions should be added to the current APRC that would fully address the long term needs of foreigners who have decided to spend the rest of their lives in Taiwan? Or what gaps in the current law should be addressed to make the APRC more effective?

Thanks,
Ted Knoy
Forgot to mention automatic open work permits when you get your APRC.
August 9, 2013    tedknoy@
As bowuyan@ pointed out, Taiwan’s negative birthrate is among the lowest worldwide and barely over half that required to maintain a stable population. Factors like this (other than public pressure) will motivate the government to further make its permanent residency laws and benefits for foreigners resemble those in other countries such as Singapore. As an alternative to Taiwan’s birth rate slogan of 2010 “Children – our best heirloom”, can anyone think of a slogan to promote foreign permanent residency laws and benefits island wide as well as encourage foreign talent to stay in the country?
Please contact me if at some point in time the Taiwan government makes public a list of Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) holders so people can get together and share their experiences of living long term in Taiwan with an APRC. I would love to attend.
Ted Knoy
August 9, 2013    edann77@
tedknoy@

I would welcome the idea of getting together or exchanging emails to discuss immigration and government issues. BTW, I don't do the social media stuff so here is my email: edann77@yahoo.com
August 9, 2013    edann77@
Here are some slogans... or maybe not. :)

"Resistance is Futile"
"We R Aliens - We Come in Peace"
"We R Aliens - Your Island Has Been Claimed"
"Give me benefits, or give me death!" - Patrick Henry
"Money, money, money - gimme more money"
August 10, 2013    selcukestel@
@Ted
I am not sure if you tried it, but I find this forum quite useful to gain information and share experience with fellow expats. forumosa.com, you might wanna check it out.
August 10, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
@Ted

The most obvious flaw is having two letters in your ID instead of one, also being able to enroll into the government pension would help.

Revoke the 180 day tax rule and get rid of the risk of losing your APRC if out the country for more than 6 years..

Curtis@,
Thanks for bringing up some good points about how to improve the current APRC scheme. You are right about the inconvenience of using online services domestically when the APRC ID has two letters while the Taiwanese ID has only one. Especially when you are dealing with an automated telephone answering service, it can be frustrating. It took me extra time to get the problem settled on a couple of occasions. And its not just for online government services. Whenever I wanted to get a membership at a local electronics store, the employee could not type in my APRC ID because of the one letter difference. She had to call the headquarters in Taipei to get it settled. I don’t understand the original reasoning in having a one letter difference between the APRC ID and the Taiwanese ID, so it may involve reissuing new APRC cards to settle the problem.

Another good point you brought up is that APRC holders should be allowed to enroll in government pensions. I know this is a concern of several foreign government workers such as university faculty. Rather than having a separate system than those with a Taiwanese ID, it should be the same. By paying into the government pension, would that only be for people who are working for an employer? Or would that also include people working independently, who would pay a certain amount each month like the National Health Insurance scheme? The latter would be better for most of the long term foreigners with APRCs who I know since they are often working for themselves. I’m just not sure what it would all involve for APRC holders to participate in the government pension scheme.

When you suggested that the APRC scheme revoke the 180 day tax rule, what do you mean by that? When I got my APRC in 2000, I had to show proof of tax statements for seven consecutive years showing a certain amount of income. I can understand the logic behind that because the government wants to make sure that the APRC applicant has a stable income. If you were to revoke that rule, what other assurances would the government have that the applicant is financially stable?

I only found out recently that Article 33 of the APRC act had been repealed, the one that previously stipulated that a person’s permanent residence permit could be revoked or repealed if the person did not live in Taiwan 183 days each year. That law was too strict. Now that the time period has been extended to 6 years seems a lot more reasonable. If not 6 years, then what do you think is a reasonable time limit? How many years is someone with a Taiwanese ID allowed to live overseas without returning to Taiwan before his or her ID is revoked? And if they return, is there a certain time limit in which they have to live in Taiwan in order to re-establish their residency, similar to someone returning from overseas before they can participate in the National Health Insurance scheme?
August 11, 2013    viaboston@
Very interesting comments here about alien permanent residency in Taiwan. I've been interested in the issue of why Taiwan seems to have a really antagonistic relationship to permanent residents or those who would like to become such, particularly those who contribute greatly to Taiwanese society like Ted and others here.

Two things frustrate me about this. The first, and this points to the general attitudes, just calling Ted a "foreigner" in the by line for the article is denigrating. Why not long time American resident of Taiwan, or long time permanent resident in Taiwan or some such. The guy probably has paid more taxes and done more for Taiwanese society than most Taiwanese. Second, from the comments, it's shocking that someone living so long in Taiwan still has to abide by the 180 day rule for taxes etc...obviously that hits home because I just got screwed on that having had to pay 76000 for just 7 months work here, because I was out of the country for a little over a month, yes I'm ignorant I know. But on the other hand, I guess I've contributed now more than most Taiwanese in one year, to the welfare of this country and it's pathetic that I don't have the same rights etc.

I feel that there is less and less diversity in Taiwan/Taipei compared to the other great cities of Asia and these are contributing factors, among many, that make it hard for immigrants to want to come here. But this just points to the direction down Taiwan is going in, when it will be forced to become part of China, in the near future, then it's diversity will be from the diversity of the mainland population...oh well...thanks for your contributions Ted, good comments...
August 12, 2013    tedknoy@
viaboston@ wrote:
Very interesting comments here about alien permanent residency in Taiwan. I've been interested in the issue of why Taiwan seems to have a really antagonistic relationship to permanent residents or those who would like to become such, particularly those who contribute greatly to Taiwanese society like Ted and others here.

Two things frustrate me about this. The first, and this points to the general attitudes, just calling Ted a "foreigner" in the by line for the article is denigrating. Why not long time American resident of Taiwan, or long time permanent resident in Taiwan or some such. The guy probably has paid more taxes and done more for Taiwanese society than most Taiwanese. Second, from the comments, it's shocking that someone living so long in Taiwan still has to abide by the 180 day rule for taxes etc...obviously that hits home because I just got screwed on that having had to pay 76000 for just 7 months work here, because I was out of the country for a little over a month, yes I'm ignorant I know. But on the other hand, I guess I've contributed now more than most Taiwanese in one year, to the welfare of this country and it's pathetic that I don't have the same rights etc.

I feel that there is less and less diversity in Taiwan/Taipei compared to the other great cities of Asia and these are contributing factors, among many, that make it hard for immigrants to want to come here. But this just points to the direction down Taiwan is going in, when it will be forced to become part of China, in the near future, then it's diversity will be from the diversity of the mainland population...oh well...thanks for your contributions Ted, good comments...
viaboston@,

Thanks for sharing some of your frustrations with the current permanent residency laws, especially taxation issues. To me, taxation should be balanced by representation, which is what the permanent residency laws currently do not address. More than just relaxing the laws for foreigners to obtain permanent residency, the government needs to evaluate how to address some of the long term needs of the number of APRC card holders. At some point in time, Taiwan will have to address how the growing number of foreign permanent residents can participate politically. One way is through allowing voting rights to a certain extent so that APRC holders who are spending the rest of their lives in Taiwan (and who pay taxes) feel that they are represented politically. What can Taiwan learn from other neighboring Asian countries in granting voting rights or limited political participation to foreign permanent residents?

In South Korea, revisions to voting laws in 2005 allow foreign nationals aged 19 years and older who have lived in South Korea for more than three years after obtaining permanent resident visas to vote in local elections. Almost 7,000 foreign residents were eligible to vote in local elections the following year. In Hong Kong, the right of permanent residents to vote is guaranteed in Article 26 of the Basic Law, where nationality is not even mentioned. And as stipulated in Article 24, permanent residents include foreign persons who have taken up permanent residency in Hong Kong for more than 7 years and other persons (regardless of nationality) who have right of abode in Hong Kong only.

Now that foreigners have had permanent residency right in Taiwan for 13 years, the government needs to look at the long term implications of having a segment of the population made up of permanent residents without political representation. Hopefully, Taiwan can follow the example of more progressive countries.
August 13, 2013    curtisakbar@
The 180 tax law I was referring to was in regards to having to pay 18% for the first 6 months and then 5% for the remaining 6 months of the tax year, this process repeats itself every year. This applies to everyone in Taiwan whom doesn't have household registration.

If you are named on the household registration you are classed as a resident of Taiwan. So in theory an APRC holder that has lived in Taiwan for 20 years but is single will have to pay 18% tax for the first 6 months every year, whereas a newbie that is married and on an ARC only needs to pay 5% tax as they are classed as a resident.

So APRC holders are permanent residents but are not classed as residents for tax purposes, excluding those that are married and have household registration.

To my knowledge, ROC ID cards have no expiry date and as long as you have an address to keep your household registration it will not expire either regardless of how long you are out of the country.

@viaboston

Your remarks about being called a "foreigner" are true and I find it highly offensive and racist assuming that all non-Chinese faces are foreign. But that is a part of Chinese culture; we must all be the same and if you are not, you must be foreign.

Hence why you need a Chinese name to integrate into society. I do appreciate that you can use an Aboriginal name if you are from one of the 14 recognised tribes but by doing so, you will face technological problems when the system only accepts Chinese characters.

I don't know why, instead of changing someone's name, they just don't use Zhuyin to "sound out" the person's name into Chinese. For example, John would be "Chiang" instead of "Yuan Han" which it is translated into.

August 13, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
The 180 tax law I was referring to was in regards to having to pay 18% for the first 6 months and then 5% for the remaining 6 months of the tax year, this process repeats itself every year. This applies to everyone in Taiwan whom doesn't have household registration.

If you are named on the household registration you are classed as a resident of Taiwan. So in theory an APRC holder that has lived in Taiwan for 20 years but is single will have to pay 18% tax for the first 6 months every year, whereas a newbie that is married and on an ARC only needs to pay 5% tax as they are classed as a resident.

So APRC holders are permanent residents but are not classed as residents for tax purposes, excluding those that are married and have household registration.

To my knowledge, ROC ID cards have no expiry date and as long as you have an address to keep your household registration it will not expire either regardless of how long you are out of the country.

@viaboston

Your remarks about being called a "foreigner" are true and I find it highly offensive and racist assuming that all non-Chinese faces are foreign. But that is a part of Chinese culture; we must all be the same and if you are not, you must be foreign.

Hence why you need a Chinese name to integrate into society. I do appreciate that you can use an Aboriginal name if you are from one of the 14 recognised tribes but by doing so, you will face technological problems when the system only accepts Chinese characters.

I don't know why, instead of changing someone's name, they just don't use Zhuyin to "sound out" the person's name into Chinese. For example, John would be "Chiang" instead of "Yuan Han" which it is translated into.

Curtis@,
I appreciate your observation that what makes us even more foreign or stick out as foreigners is that in Chinese culture, we must all be the same (i.e. conformity); and if you are not, you must be foreign. I spent the first 24 years of my life in a highly homogeneous environment of southern Indiana, where most of the people were like me ethnically. And now I’ve spent the last 24 years in a homogeneous environment in Taiwan where I have been “them” rather than “us.” So it has been a good life experience, although frustrating and isolating at times. I’m sure you have had similar experiences.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed the anonymity of being a foreigner in that I am less affected by what’s going on around me because the culture does not expect me to voice my opinion or have civic responsibilities. Whereas if I had stayed in the environment where I grew up, I would probably be more passionate about social or religious issues. As a foreigner in Taiwan, I don’t get all worked up over ethnic or political spats on the island. And I don’t have those cultural expectations to be committed one way or the other – because I am a foreigner. So in that sense, being a foreigner in Taiwan for the last 23 years has been liberating for me.

It is no panacea, but Taiwan has made a lot of progress since I have been here. For instance, when I arrived in 1989, there was no permanent residency for foreigners; foreigners rarely owned residential property in their own names; and Taiwanese women with foreign spouses even had to forfeit their family inheritances out of fear that the foreigner would end up with the property – which would throw the whole “hukou” system out of whack. So things really have progressed since I arrived. Not always quick enough, and a lot must still be done. I am most concerned with increasingly larger numbers of foreigners with permanent residency but without any political representation. That is why I hope that eventually permanent residents will be allowed limited political participation by voting in local elections. What is your opinion?

Ted Knoy
August 14, 2013    tedknoy@
One reason why I believe that the Taiwan government should allow foreigners with permanent residency (APRC) to vote in local elections is that limited political participation will make this growing segment of the Taiwan population less prone to cynicism. Some of the comments posted on the online editions of the English language newspapers in Taiwan are a case in point. Although constructive at times, cynicism is more often a distrust of others' apparent motives or ambitions, or a general disconnect from the Taiwan society we are living in. And this may be further compounded by some of us foreigners not being proficient in the Mandarin language, or at least functional on a daily basis. I’m not saying that allowing foreigners with permanent residency to vote in local elections will make us fluent in Chinese. But it would bolster our self-confidence to know that we can more fully participate in the country where we have chosen to spend the rest of our lives. With this bestowed right of limited participation in Taiwan’s politics, there would be less of a disconnect in our lives from all of the political activities going on in this vibrant democracy. Cynicism often occurs when one feels left out or unable to be socially involved. Allowing foreigners with permanent residency (APRC) to vote in local elections would give us a medium by which we can more fully participate in this society and feel that we belong to this place that we call home. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hope that the Taiwan government will study how other progressive countries in Asia such as South Korea or Hong Kong have successfully integrated their local foreign permanent residents by allowing them the right to vote in local elections.

Ted Knoy
August 15, 2013    tedknoy@
Allowing foreigners with permanent residency (APRC) to vote in local elections is also an opportunity for the Taiwan government to send a positive message to this growing population segment that their participation in Taiwan society is relevant. As Taiwan’s current birthrate (i.e. the lowest worldwide in 2010) is currently less than half than what is needed to sustain its current population, the country will increasingly rely on more than annual contract migrant laborers, but also foreign talents who have made Taiwan their home. Given that Taiwan has already secured the right of foreigners to live here permanently for 13 years, it must now ensure that this growing community also has a relevant voice in the island’s direction. Permanent residents who use and pay for government services should also have a right to hold locally elected officials to account. But Taiwan’s permanent residents are more than just taxpayers and service users. As the Republic of China constitution forbids dual nationality of foreigners, allowing permanent residents to vote in local elections as a limited form of political participation would make these community members feel that they have a more relevant place in Taiwan society.
Voting represents a powerful form of inclusiveness, symbolic and otherwise, that would allow permanent residents
to more proudly identify themselves as fully engaged in Taiwan’s daily civic life. Countries such as Norway, Columbia, Ireland, Israel, and the United Kingdom already allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. Also, South Korea is widely cited as a successful example, which has allowed foreign permanent residents to vote in local elections since 2006. Hopefully, the Taiwan Government will start a conversation on this trend as a way of including its growing community of foreign permanent residents in daily civic life.
August 16, 2013    skyhermit@
"Skyhomo" ---oh, Curtis ... you're so witty! I imagine you're a super mature dude who is probably also kind to animals.

LOVE the gay slur! -- Skip 'straw man' and go straight for the 7th grade.... cool story, bro!~

Didn't we meet once at The Man Hole? ---you tried to buy me a drink I think. Anyway...stay classy!
August 17, 2013    miller.henry641@
Ted,
Good comments.
I am also a long term 'foreigner' here on the island.
Good luck to you and the family.
August 18, 2013    curtisakbar@
SKANKHERMIT@

You started the petty name calling and as I'm passive aggressive, I won't start name calling but certainly I will never back down. As for where you spend your free time, that's up to you. I however don't indulge in visits to those sort of places.

Now back to the adults.

Ted@

Your idea of being allowed to vote in local elections is a good idea but considering Taiwan doesn't even allow naturalized citizens hold public office, we have a far and hard road to walk. You want the right to vote, I want the right to be voted for.

I personally don't see the fact whether someone can speak fluent Chinese or not relevant in their ability to engage in society. It sure does help, but when the government wants to pass a law that goes against common sense, when a horrible crime occurs or a natural disaster happens there is enough coverage that the lack of the "National Language" isn't a problem. The major problem is that you can't have a conversation with Joe Bloggs from down the street.

Whilst engaging in civil disobedience APRC holders should not face the prospect of deportation. Under current laws, foreign nationals are not allowed to take part in protests. So if you joined in the protest to protect the homes in Miaoli or against the unsafe construction of Nuke plant 4, you could see your 20 year stay ended over night for just joining a peaceful sit down. This law should be revoked, I understand why tourists can't take part in protests but as Ted said, being allowed to demonstrate political views is essential in feeling accepted.
August 18, 2013    tedknoy@
Permanent residency in Taiwan is still evolving. Granting foreigners the right to stay here permanently has many long term implications that the government continues to address. Taiwan is still in its experimental phase of what it means to have an entirely foreign population with full residency and property ownership rights. Even though I obtained permanent residency 13 years ago and have owned property here in my name for roughly the same period, I am still trying to understand what does it mean for me to have the right to live the rest of my life here in terms of how I can interact with the rest of Taiwan society. To me, allowing foreigner permanent residents the right to vote in local elections is an important way to orient us newcomers on Taiwan’s democratic political system and how we can navigate within its norms and institutions. As Taiwan becomes a multi-cultural democracy, non-citizen voting at the local level would encourage permanent residents to more actively participate in various associations and forums. This would have only a positive effect of having multi-cultural voices add to the diversity of Taiwan. By bringing foreign permanent residents into the local election process, Taiwan citizens could more freely interact with this new group and learn how to work cooperatively in addressing local civic issues. This educational opportunity would definitely bring together people from different walks of life and cultural experiences who would not otherwise have the opportunity to do so. Rather than viewing overseas permanent residents as “foreign” – someone who sticks out as different because they do not conform to society – Taiwan citizens could also come to appreciate these “foreigners” for their diverse experiences and what new insights they could offer. Likewise, permanent residents can learn more about their civic responsibilities and what is expected to participate in Taiwan’s vibrant democracy at the local level.

Ted
August 21, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
SKANKHERMIT@

You started the petty name calling and as I'm passive aggressive, I won't start name calling but certainly I will never back down. As for where you spend your free time, that's up to you. I however don't indulge in visits to those sort of places.

Now back to the adults.

Ted@

Your idea of being allowed to vote in local elections is a good idea but considering Taiwan doesn't even allow naturalized citizens hold public office, we have a far and hard road to walk. You want the right to vote, I want the right to be voted for.

I personally don't see the fact whether someone can speak fluent Chinese or not relevant in their ability to engage in society. It sure does help, but when the government wants to pass a law that goes against common sense, when a horrible crime occurs or a natural disaster happens there is enough coverage that the lack of the "National Language" isn't a problem. The major problem is that you can't have a conversation with Joe Bloggs from down the street.

Whilst engaging in civil disobedience APRC holders should not face the prospect of deportation. Under current laws, foreign nationals are not allowed to take part in protests. So if you joined in the protest to protect the homes in Miaoli or against the unsafe construction of Nuke plant 4, you could see your 20 year stay ended over night for just joining a peaceful sit down. This law should be revoked, I understand why tourists can't take part in protests but as Ted said, being allowed to demonstrate political views is essential in feeling accepted.
Curtis@,
You relinquishing your nationality and becoming a naturalized citizen of Taiwan (without the option of dual citizenship, which Taiwanese are entitled to) definitely puts my ego in check, especially when I want to “toot my own horn” (as we would say in southern Indiana). I admire your decision, and now I can understand your earlier comment about why I would not give up my U.S. nationality when I have already lived here for 23 years. But for now, with my permanent residency and property ownership in Taiwan, I am content because I believe the permanent residency law is still evolving and will eventually have to address more than just the right to have a physical presence here. Like Cornell West says, “I’m not an optimist, but I am a prisoner of hope.”

What law were you referring to when you said that the government was trying to pass a law regarding fluency in Chinese? Was that a requirement when you became a naturalized citizen?

Thanks also for raising the point that in terms of civil disobedience, permanent residents risk deportation if they take part in protests. I am not interested in protests, but I do believe we should be able to make suggestions through the media and opinion pieces on how to improve our lives in Taiwan. And more importantly, rather than protests, the right of foreign permanent residents to vote in local elections would give us a representative voice so that we feel that our concerns should be heard. If we continue to live here as permanent residents (but do not have a representative voice – at least at the local level), the message would be that our participation is irrelevant and that political decisions should be left for to others to make. I don’t think that is in the original spirit of the permanent residency law that the Taiwan government passed 13 years ago. Allowing foreign permanent residents to vote in local elections would be a safeguard for Taiwan to have this growing community as part of its vibrant democracy, rather than marginalized on the fringes.

Ted Knoy
______________________________________
August 23, 2013    tedknoy@
More than just benefiting foreigners living in Taiwan, allowing those with permanent residency (APRC) to vote in local Taiwan elections would empower these non-citizens by giving them an official voice, unlike the current situation where they have no political representation on the island. With this official voice, politicians and decision makers would have to take the interests of the growing community of foreign permanent residents when making political decisions. In this scenario, Taiwan democracy becomes more inclusive when it empowers all who have the right to permanent abode to participate in its daily civic life. Candidates running for local offices would be more responsive to the needs of this underrepresented group when they know that their constituency includes foreign permanent residents. Since I have been here, Taiwan has made tremendous progress in recognizing the voices of underrepresented groups. Yet permanent residency in its current form has not addressed how those individuals can more fully participate in Taiwan’s democratic miracle and feel that they truly belong here. As it stands now, foreign permanent residents of a city have the same tax obligations as citizen residents, but no say in who represents them in government. As the ranks of foreign permanent residents continues to grow as Taiwan now enters its 13th year of allowing foreigners to spend the rest of their lives here, this is a conversation that the Taiwan government eventually needs to have. When I arrived in Taiwan in 1989, I was told that permanent residency for foreigners would never happen for a myriad of reasons. Now that it has been a reality for more than a decade, the permanent residency law needs to evolve into one that ensures limited political participation of individuals who legally have the right to spend the rest of their lives here. One way to start this conversation for the government to commission studies that review the status of permanent residency over the past 13 years and then make recommendations on how to make the law more inclusive in terms of limited political participation. If such a study already exists, please let me know.

Ted Knoy
August 24, 2013    tedknoy@
miller.henry641@ wrote:
Ted,
Good comments.
I am also a long term 'foreigner' here on the island.
Good luck to you and the family.
Henry@,
Thank you for your kind words and warm wishes. I hope that long term “foreigners” in Taiwan like you and me can stay in touch and share some of our experiences and ideas on how to improve our lives, especially the current permanent residency law.

For me, the growing community of individuals with permanent residency (APRC) can be integrated into the larger Taiwan society by bestowing upon them the right to vote in local elections. Many dictionaries define “citizen” as "the resident of a city or town." Why wouldn’t we want all permanent residents in Taiwan participating in the civic life of their communities? And voting in local elections is about expressing one’s concerns over the basic amenities of life (e.g., water, electricity, trash pickup, and recycling) all of which we pay for through taxes – regardless of whether you are a Taiwan citizen or permanent resident. Allowing limited political participation at the local level to foreign permanent residents would reinvigorate voting in Taiwan as a more inclusive process that would all of Taiwan’s residents. Why wouldn’t we want to invite all qualified individuals into Taiwan’s democratic process? One criticism against allowing foreigner permanent residents the right to vote in local elections is that granting such rights undermines the meaning of citizenship and reduces incentives for aliens to become Taiwan citizens. I strongly disagree. Allowing foreigner permanent residents the right to vote in local elections would become a pathway to citizenship, not an alternative to it. By giving permanent residents a taste of democratic participation and inclusiveness, those people will eventually want more and they will be led down the path of citizenship. Now that Taiwan already has benefited numerous foreigners with its established permanent residency laws for the past 13 years, it now time to further integrate those residents by allowing limited political participation at the local level by granting them suffrage rights as well.

Henry, thanks again for your encouragement and please let me know the next time you come to Hsinchu. You can find my contact details on the social media.

Ted Knoy
August 26, 2013    tedknoy@
viaboston@ wrote:
Very interesting comments here about alien permanent residency in Taiwan. I've been interested in the issue of why Taiwan seems to have a really antagonistic relationship to permanent residents or those who would like to become such, particularly those who contribute greatly to Taiwanese society like Ted and others here.

Two things frustrate me about this. The first, and this points to the general attitudes, just calling Ted a "foreigner" in the by line for the article is denigrating. Why not long time American resident of Taiwan, or long time permanent resident in Taiwan or some such. The guy probably has paid more taxes and done more for Taiwanese society than most Taiwanese. Second, from the comments, it's shocking that someone living so long in Taiwan still has to abide by the 180 day rule for taxes etc...obviously that hits home because I just got screwed on that having had to pay 76000 for just 7 months work here, because I was out of the country for a little over a month, yes I'm ignorant I know. But on the other hand, I guess I've contributed now more than most Taiwanese in one year, to the welfare of this country and it's pathetic that I don't have the same rights etc.

I feel that there is less and less diversity in Taiwan/Taipei compared to the other great cities of Asia and these are contributing factors, among many, that make it hard for immigrants to want to come here. But this just points to the direction down Taiwan is going in, when it will be forced to become part of China, in the near future, then it's diversity will be from the diversity of the mainland population...oh well...thanks for your contributions Ted, good comments...
viaboston@,

I empathize with your frustrations. Taiwan is slowly becoming a more diverse place, and at a faster pace than when I first arrived.

One notion that still frustrates me is the whole notion about who participates in society. The idea that the concerns of certain Taiwan residents count for less than those of others goes against the spirit of Taiwan democracy, in which inclusive participation is vital. Allowing foreign permanent residents to vote in local elections would make this growing segment of the island’s population to feel that their participation does makes a difference or, at the very least, that their concerns are heard. I am speechless (which is rare) when foreigners with one or two year alien resident permits (ARC) challenge me as to why they should get permanent residency, other than for the obvious reason of never having to renew one’s residency again. I have difficulty in responding. If Taiwan is to encourage foreign talent to settle down and make this island their home, the foreign community needs more than just the incentive of not having to renew their visa in order to live here. Allowing foreign permanent residents to vote in local elections would provide them with a legitimate channel of expression to voice their grievances or, even more importantly, offer innovative ideas and fresh insights into ways to handle some of the basic amenities of life (water, electricity, trash pickup, and recycling, etc.), which local government is responsible for administering. That’s why it makes more sense to allow permanent residency voting at the local level, where one can directly witness and voice their opinions on how their taxes are spent. I firmly believe that empowering these residents with voting rights at the local level will reinvigorate Taiwan’s already qualified voters, as they will appreciate their privilege even more as they see “outsiders” or “foreigners” wanting to participate as well. A progressive example for Taiwan to consider is the European Union, in which the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which imposed reciprocity inside the Union regarding voting rights in local elections. While Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Netherlands already offered this right to its permanent residents from other EU countries, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Slovenia and Belgium soon followed. All of these precedents warrant careful consideration as Taiwan tries to more closely integrate foreign permanent residents into daily civic life.

Ted Knoy
August 28, 2013    tedknoy@
Becoming a permanent resident has taught me as much as about myself as it did so about Taiwan. On a personal level, deciding to live in Taiwan for the past 23 years and not give up and leave when I occasionally got frustrated built my self-reliance, confidence and esteem in many ways. I have been fortunate to always live in Hsinchu during my time here. The city has changed so rapidly and provided me with career opportunities to pursue that were unavailable where I originally came from. These experiences greatly strengthened my character in many ways. As a 24 year old fresh out of graduate school, I found myself in this challenging overseas environment where I had to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture and make a living. Taiwan offered opportunities that allowed me to develop personally and professionally. And living under universal healthcare for the past two decades definitely gave me the freedom to pursue those goals. Universal healthcare truly is a human right, and I have once again greatly benefited from that lesson taught here. I’m not trying to boast of my accomplishments. Rather, I hope that the Taiwan government can take advantage of these experiences that the growing foreign permanent resident community has acquired by incorporating it more into daily civic life on the island. Allowing those residents to vote in local elections would allow them to interact more closely with Taiwan’s citizens and integrate in the larger population. Permanent residency should be more than just the right to live here for the rest of one’s life. It is also about how new community members in Taiwan can share their experiences and feel that they truly belong here. Hopefully, the government will examine this possibility and other ways to absorb the foreign permanent resident community into civic life on the island.
August 28, 2013    markroc@
I have been in Taiwan for 26 years. I love living here. I speak good Chinese (some say fluent, but I know better).
I went to Chinese language programs for more than 5 years (Chinese does not come easy for me.) I earned my BA and my MBA and am now currently working on my PhD.
I am so grateful to Taiwan for the opportunity to attend school. However, even after 26 plus years I am no closer to getting a APRC than anybody fresh off the boat. I have made more than 70 visa runs to satisfy the DOE's policies for foreigners studying in Taiwan. (Been to Hong Kong quite possibly 30 to 50 times)
Taiwan is a great place to live. It is safe. The people are nice. The cost of living is very reasonable. I see no reason to return to my country of origin. I would love to have an APRC. It would make life much easier for me. (I am not married to a local.)
Because I don't or can't get an APRC, one problem exists that I feel needs to be addressed. I cannot even get a local phone number from a cell phone carrier without having to ask one of my Taiwanese friends to sign a contract as a guarantor. It is frustrating to see policies that restrict foreigners from purchasing a SIMM card that allows internet access, monthly payments and an the opportunity to replace lost or stolen SIMM cards. Under these existing restrictions, most foreigners do not have Smart phones, they have to pay 2 or 3 times the contract rates for text messages and phone calls, and they can not replace their SIMM cards if lost of stolen. (Losing a phone is already heartbreaking. Currently, foreigners have to buy a new SIMM card. Thus, contact numbers for friends, businesses and other contacts are lost forever.
Why aren't foreigners permitted to buy SIMM cards upon arrival? Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and China all have fewer restrictions on foreigners.
As far as I know, there are over 300,000 foreigners living in Taiwan. At 700 to 1200 NTD per month, that is a lot of lost income for the phone carriers. I have been here in Taiwan am in my 50s and I cannot even get my own phone number. I went to Malaysia this past summer and I had a phone number with monthly payments within 20 minutes.
August 29, 2013    tedknoy@
Becoming a permanent resident also taught me how to more effectively interact with others in Taiwan and develop personal relations skills. By living in an ethnically Chinese culture for more than two decades, I have learned many valuable lessons on how to get along with others that I never would have learned had I stayed in the United States where I grew up. As a “foreigner”, some of the daily norms of Taiwan life I had a lot of difficulty in adjusting to at the outset. But the longer I stayed here, I feel that some of those norms have made me a lot more adaptable in my daily coping skills. For instance, values such as concern for the whole group rather than only individual interests, thriftiness, focus on long-term rather than just short-term goals, emphasis on how relationships shape the individual (other than the other way around), and a greater respect for seniority and age – all of these I have to come to appreciate more by living here. Whereas some people prefer flexibility and unstructured situations, others prefer having written or unwritten societal rules and avoiding risks as much as possible. Or while some people in some cultures feel that “here and now” is what matters the most, other cultures emphasize respect for traditions and the expectations that individuals have in fulfilling their duties. These are just a few of the ways in which living here has transformed a lot of my thinking. And I’m not the only one. More and more foreigners who are becoming and are already permanent residents here have a lot to share with the rest of Taiwan. Now that we have permanent residency, we need a channel by which we can more fully participate in daily civic life. Allowing limited political participation to foreign permanent residency by allowing them to vote in local elections would further add to Taiwan’s vibrant democracy. Sharing their experiences through limited political participation at the local level would add to the diversity of voices that want to make Taiwan a better place to live.
August 30, 2013    tedknoy@
selcukestel@ wrote:
@Ted
I am not sure if you tried it, but I find this forum quite useful to gain information and share experience with fellow expats. forumosa.com, you might wanna check it out.

selcukestel@,

Thank you for directing me to the online discussion board forumosa.com. It is a valuable website for sharing information on daily life in Taiwan. The section on permanent residency focuses mostly on how to acquire it. I did not see any discussion on once you have it, what are some of the challenges of living with it. More specifically, some of the issues that we have been discussing in this thread: suffrage rights in local elections, participation in the government pension scheme, difficulties caused in the numbers on the APRC versus an R.O.C. ID, 180 day tax rule, and period of time absent from Taiwan before losing one’s permanent residency. If I overlooked the discussion thread of such issues, please re-direct me. I am interested in a forum where long-term foreigners in Taiwan, or specific those already with permanent residency, can voice their concerns about some of the long term challenges that they face living here on the island. As I mentioned earlier, the government will not make public a list of individuals already with permanent residency because of privacy laws. Such information would be invaluable if a meeting forum or association were ever to form. I am thankful to China Post for the discussion thread here. Through these comments, I have made contacts with other likeminded “foreigners” who are concerned about the direction of permanent residency laws and further improvements to them. Please feel free to contact me at tedknoy@gmail.com . I am always happy to meet others in a similar predicament like this one.
September 2, 2013    tedknoy@
markroc@ wrote:
I have been in Taiwan for 26 years. I love living here. I speak good Chinese (some say fluent, but I know better).
I went to Chinese language programs for more than 5 years (Chinese does not come easy for me.) I earned my BA and my MBA and am now currently working on my PhD.
I am so grateful to Taiwan for the opportunity to attend school. However, even after 26 plus years I am no closer to getting a APRC than anybody fresh off the boat. I have made more than 70 visa runs to satisfy the DOE's policies for foreigners studying in Taiwan. (Been to Hong Kong quite possibly 30 to 50 times)
Taiwan is a great place to live. It is safe. The people are nice. The cost of living is very reasonable. I see no reason to return to my country of origin. I would love to have an APRC. It would make life much easier for me. (I am not married to a local.)
Because I don't or can't get an APRC, one problem exists that I feel needs to be addressed. I cannot even get a local phone number from a cell phone carrier without having to ask one of my Taiwanese friends to sign a contract as a guarantor. It is frustrating to see policies that restrict foreigners from purchasing a SIMM card that allows internet access, monthly payments and an the opportunity to replace lost or stolen SIMM cards. Under these existing restrictions, most foreigners do not have Smart phones, they have to pay 2 or 3 times the contract rates for text messages and phone calls, and they can not replace their SIMM cards if lost of stolen. (Losing a phone is already heartbreaking. Currently, foreigners have to buy a new SIMM card. Thus, contact numbers for friends, businesses and other contacts are lost forever.
Why aren't foreigners permitted to buy SIMM cards upon arrival? Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and China all have fewer restrictions on foreigners.
As far as I know, there are over 300,000 foreigners living in Taiwan. At 700 to 1200 NTD per month, that is a lot of lost income for the phone carriers. I have been here in Taiwan am in my 50s and I cannot even get my own phone number. I went to Malaysia this past summer and I had a phone number with monthly payments within 20 minutes.
markroc@,

I received permanent residency back in 2000, after living in Taiwan for 11 years. So I can only imagine your frustration of having lived here 26 years without receiving it yet. Some long term foreign residents still feel that the APRC is unnecessary because of its restrictions. But many of those restrictions have been relaxed in recent years, making it easier not only to gain permanent residency but to keep it as well. For instance, in 2000, I had to show proof of living in Taiwan for 270 days a year for seven consecutive years in order to qualify for the APRC. That restriction was later relaxed to 180 days annually. And in terms of keeping the APRC, APRC holders originally had to live in Taiwan for at least six months a year to maintain their permanent residency. Now that restriction has been relaxed to an absence of 5 years from Taiwan before the APRC is revoked. Also, the Taiwan government is constantly making revisions to the permanent residency law that gives APRC holders the same rights as Taiwan citizens in terms of governmental and social services. For instance, the government recently included permanent residents along with Taiwan citizens in not having to renew their driver’s licenses. There is also a draft in the Legislative Yuan that would make permanent residents eligible for social services such as elderly benefits that were previously available only to Taiwan citizens. Although it still seems slow at times, progress is now being made quickly in comparison with the situation when I arrived in 1989. Even discussions back then of the possibility of granting permanent residency to foreigners were often met with skepticism. I was often told that Taiwan was already too crowded, and that Taiwan was not a country of immigrants like the United States. But with changing times and Taiwan having the world’s lowest birthrate rate worldwide in 2010 (i.e. less than half the rate needed to maintain its current population), the doors are opening to foreign talent like you and me who want to make Taiwan their homes permanently. If Taiwan is to further encourage foreign talent to settle down and make this island their home, then it needs to further integrate this community into daily civic life so that we are not just “foreigners” living here the rest of our lives. That’s why I am hopeful that the government will eventually allow permanent residents suffrage rights to vote in local elections so that they have a representative voice for the taxes they pay and also for the contributions that they are making. I realize that this will not happen overnight. But the process needs to begin with a conversation, hopefully on discussion forums like this one.

Ted Knoy
September 2, 2013    tedknoy@
markroc@,

Just a couple more ideas I had from your above message.

I totally agree that the benefits of living in Taiwan outweigh the difficulties we have experienced here. Especially with the many years you have spent in Chinese language programs, I think you would agree that given the time and energy that you have spent in adjusting to life on the island, it would be even more painful to just give up and leave forever. It gets to a point that you have invested so much here that even considering whether to leave after all of this time would be pointless. Both you and I have seen many people arrive here, get excited about living in a new country, get frustrated and then finally leave. But we didn’t give up. We stayed here. And that should count as a personal achievement – for persisting and not giving up. Growing up in America, I saw immigrants coming and adjusting all of the time. So it has been exciting to be part of the immigrant experience that I saw from a secondhand point of view. It has definitely made me more empathetic towards people unlike myself.

In an earlier comment on this discussion board, someone wrote that as a part of Chinese culture, we must all be the same and conform. So if you are not, you must be foreign. It has been a painful lesson at times, but I have definitely learned how to become more empathetic towards others who may not “belong” or are “different.” I also think that living in Taiwan has heightened my awareness of those around me. I have to be keenly aware of what is said in my second language of Chinese or I have to be aware of how I come across to others. I don’t think I had this level of awareness or sensitivity before I arrived here 23 years ago. Maybe a part of that has to do with maturity and growing up. But living in a country where I stick out in a crowd and apparently do not “belong”, I have had to develop a greater sense of awareness of those around me. I think a part of it is that we have to constantly see through the lenses of the culture that we are living in rather than just relying on our own perspective all of the time. I know it sounds simple, but some people never try to view things outside of their own perspective. I wish you luck in eventually getting your permanent residency, and I don’t have any short term answers for the problems you raised. All I can say is, “Hang in there.” All the best.

Ted Knoy
September 3, 2013    tedknoy@
Hopefully, the Taiwan government can soon follow the progressive example of Singapore in bolstering its foreign permanent resident population to combat its rapidly aging crisis.

With the lowest fertility rate worldwide in 2010 (i.e. less than half the rate needed to sustain the current population), Taiwan is facing an aging crisis that threatens its productivity and standard of living. While Taiwan will only take 32 years to move from an aging society to a super-aged society in 2025 (i.e. 20% of its population aged 65 or over), it took France 156 years, the US 92 years and Japan 35 years to reach the same level. Also, the number of Taiwan newborns is one-third less than that of 15 years ago. At this pace, by 2016, one-third of the current universities will be forced to close. Moreover, in a little more than four years, the elderly population will outnumber the juvenile population.

Facing a similar aging crisis, Singapore has taken aggressive steps in increasing its foreign permanent resident population. It also provides additional benefits to its permanent residents that Taiwan could learn from as well. Earlier this year, the Singapore government stated that the country should take in 30,000 foreigners as new permanent residents every year to battle the falling fertility rate and ensure that its economy remains competitive. The government is especially concerned since over 900,000 Singaporeans, more than a quarter of the population, will retire from the workforce between now and 2030. Also, Singapore permanent residents who have jobs must join the government pension scheme known as the Central Provident Fund. The pension scheme helps foreign permanent residents financially when it comes to health care, homeownership, family protection and growing one’s assets.

Taiwan’s shrinking labor force will negatively impact labor supply, consumer demand as well as well as overall productivity. Taiwan’s population will peak in 2019 and then begin to decrease. Already, the number of people in the nation’s workforce between 14 and 65 years old peaked in 2012 and has been declining since. In addition to allowing foreign permanent residents the right to vote in local elections, the government needs to further relax the requirements for obtaining permanent residency and allow those residents to participate in the government pension system.
September 4, 2013    taipeir2001@
Basically Taiwan is stuck in the 20th century and too slow to make the conceptual leap into the 21st century. This is not surprising if you check the age profile of the people in government.

They are really too slow to change their attitudes to foreign residents, dual citizenship, the environment, education, working culture etc.

Come on Taiwan, get moving with the times, don't fall behind and become another province of China.
September 5, 2013    tedknoy@
Permanent residency in Taiwan made me realize how much I had changed in my own thinking since arriving here in the late 1980s. Back then, I almost felt sorry for my Taiwan friends in the way that they often sacrificed their own interests for their family, parents or some other significant group that they belonged to. I remember feeling frustrated whenever people would start sentences with “We Chinese…” or “We Taiwanese…”, always referring to the larger group consensus rather than expressing their own opinions. Later on, I realized that I was looking through my own cultural lenses, where people are defined as individuals and are largely concerned with themselves and their families. I realize that this generalization does not apply to all people in Taiwan, but that was just how I felt at the time. Now, 23 years later, I realize how liberating it can be to think and act in terms of the larger group’s interests rather than only my own.

Having my identity tied up with the group I belong to (rather than standing out alone) has been liberating for me in different ways. In Taiwan, I feel less scrutiny about who I am as an individual than if I were living in the United States. Whenever I talk to people back home, I am sometimes surprised at the rush to label people you have just met as to whether someone fits the individual stereotype of a liberal or a conservative or a hipster or a gangster wannabe or a Christian. And once you are labeled as belonging to one of these stereotypes, you are further judged as to whether you are living up to the expectations of that stereotype that has been assigned to you. I just don’t feel that pressure living in Taiwan, maybe because I have learned how to emphasize group concerns whenever expressing my opinion rather than my own individual preferences all of the time. That is just one way how I feel that Taiwan has changed my thinking and how I have learned to approach problems.

And what does this have to do with permanent residency? I hope that the Taiwan government will come to appreciate the unique perspectives that foreign permanent residents have acquired through their experiences, and how these experiences and perspectives can contribute to the larger fabric of Taiwan society. Allowing foreign permanent residents limited political participation by voting in local elections would not only benefit them personally, but also provide Taiwan with more diverse voices who have unique experiences and perspectives shaped by their time here.
September 5, 2013    curtisakbar@
Or to solve most of the problems allow people to obtain Taiwan citizenship without the need to give up their first nation.
September 5, 2013    galaxietw@
As a native Taiwanese, I appreciate your efforts and also feel sorry for the inconvenience you experienced. Our government should be more careful and work faster for some sort of correction, though it seems quite futile to expect them do things quickly.
September 5, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
Or to solve most of the problems allow people to obtain Taiwan citizenship without the need to give up their first nation.
curtis@,
I totally agree. I hope that the Taiwan government will allow non-Chinese permanent residents and ROC citizenship applicants to be treated the same as Chinese spouses in this respect. I’m sure you are well aware that Chinese spouses need only reside in Taiwan for four years, with more than 183 days of each year spent within the nation, to gain permanent residency. However, foreign spouses must reside in Taiwan for five years consecutively and must spend more than 183 days a year in the nation, while foreigners who are not married but are here on a work visa must reside here seven consecutive years.

After they gain permanent residency, Chinese spouses need only stay two full years, with 183 days spent each year within Taiwan, to gain citizenship and the ROC identification card. Also, they do not need to renounce their People’s Republic of China citizenship. However, if non-Chinese (spouses or otherwise) wish to become a Republic of China (ROC) citizen, they must first renounce their original nationality after they have resided within the nation for more than three years and spent more than 183 days a year in Taiwan. They must also take a test on the basic rights and duties of a citizen before they can obtain citizenship. Also , after non-Chinese (spouses or otherwise) receive citizenship, they must continue to stay in Taiwan for one full year, reside in Taiwan for two full years with 270 days of each year spent in Taiwan or stay in Taiwan for five full years with 183 days spent in Taiwan each year before they receive their ROC identification card.

I don’t think the Taiwan government is ready yet to allow foreigners to have dual citizenship. But a strong argument to do so would be to eliminate this double standard between Chinese spouses and non-Chinese (spouses or otherwise) when it comes to acquiring ROC citizenship and identification card.

Curtis, I think you have more knowledge than me in this area and I stand corrected if I am wrong on any of the above. What do you think?

Ted Knoy
September 8, 2013    tedknoy@
galaxietw@ wrote:
As a native Taiwanese, I appreciate your efforts and also feel sorry for the inconvenience you experienced. Our government should be more careful and work faster for some sort of correction, though it seems quite futile to expect them do things quickly.
galaxietw@,

Thank you for your kind words. I am grateful for the home that Taiwan has given me. I am only raising my concerns here because I want to more fully participate in civic society. The rate at which Taiwan society has changed since I first arrived in 1989 is phenomenal. While arriving here only two years after the 38 year old martial law had been lifted, I could never have imagined all of the opportunities that this country would provide me. Back then, higher education institutions were mostly technology institutes or vocational schools – nothing like the number of universities that there are now. Educational opportunities were limited. And university examinations were so competitive; not everyone who wanted to go to university could do so. I was fortunate to end up in Hsinchu at a time when so much in terms of academics and research was expanding so rapidly. From there, I was able to find a niche in available work, both earning money and learning skills at the same time. The United States is often called “The Land of Opportunity”, a place where you can succeed if you work hard enough. Well for me, Taiwan has been such a place. And on top of that, universal healthcare gave me the freedom to develop the skills I was interested in, rather than taking work for the sake of insurance only.

For any inconveniences I’ve experienced here, there have been many more acts of kindness from Taiwanese who were willing to give me work opportunities and a safe place to live. Taiwanese are very hospitable and welcoming to strangers. But rather than view us as guests only, I hope that Taiwanese can also demand more of us permanent residents in terms of fulfilling our civic responsibilities. Allowing permanent residents limited political participation through voting in local elections would be more than just granting foreigners more rights. With that right would come responsibilities that we would assume just as normal citizens do. With the right to vote in local elections, I would gladly be more than willing to take on my share of civic responsibilities. Thanks again for your kind words of encouragement.

Ted Knoy
September 9, 2013    tedknoy@
Permanent residency rights of foreigners in Taiwan will definitely benefit from the Taiwan government’s recent push to recruit overseas undergraduate and graduate students to offset the falling birthrate in Taiwan. Once receiving their degrees, many of those graduates may choose to settle down in Taiwan. That’s why, in addition to further relaxing the requirements for permanent residency, the Taiwan government needs to allow those foreign permanent residents limited political participation with the right to vote in local elections, as well as the right to participate in the government pension system.

To mitigate the island’s falling birthrate, the Ministry of Education (MOE) is trying to recruit 100,000 foreign students to enroll in Taiwan universities. There are currently around 56,000 foreign students studying in Taiwan, with nearly half of them in degree programs. Most of those students come from Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The MOE recently announced efforts to attract 4,000 overseas Chinese students from Malaysia to study in Taiwan this year. Another Taiwan education official suggested that the government should acknowledge the junior college or university degrees of over 300,000 foreign spouses in Taiwan, allowing them to fill job vacancies by becoming apprentices in different industries.

This recent emphasis on bolstering foreign student enrollment in local universities can become a gateway for overseas talent to fill in the gap for Taiwan’s dwindling labor force in the future. But what preparations are underway once they graduate and decide to settle down in Taiwan? Other than job prospects and the promise of permanent residency after seven years of work, what else can these university graduates look forward to in terms of becoming a part of Taiwan society? How long will these future taxpayers stay in Taiwan without limited political participation through suffrage rights at the local level or access to public services such as participation in the government pension scheme? As the Taiwan government encourages foreign students to enroll in local universities, I hope that policymakers will seriously look at the long term implications of having this future labor force here permanently.

Ted Knoy
September 10, 2013    tedknoy@
Whenever discussing ways in which the Taiwan government can expand the rights of foreign permanent residents, I am occasionally confronted with the question, “Why don’t you just become a naturalized citizen so you can enjoy all of the rights of other Taiwanese?” First, I truly admire those foreigners who have become naturalized citizens in Taiwan. They truly show their love of and commitment to Taiwan, especially those who (upon becoming naturalized citizens) serve in the compulsory R.O.C. military service for all males. As all Taiwanese males, they have to devote service in exchange for the freedom and rights that they enjoy as citizens.

I think the Taiwan government should take a similar approach when granting permanent residency. More than acquiring permanent residency rights, those foreigners should be allowed and expected to serve in civic society as well. How can this be done? First, to make permanent residency more attractive and ensure that those residents spend the rest of their lives here, the Taiwan government needs to allow foreign permanent residents the right to vote in local elections, further relax the requirements for obtaining permanent residency and allow those residents to participate in the government pension system. With these expanded rights, permanent residents will not feel like they are only taxpayers without representation or unable to express their daily life concerns at the municipal level. Then, in the same way that the Taiwan government initiated programs to accommodate the foreign spouses of Taiwanese in order to acclimate to their new environment, similar programs should be initiated for all foreign permanent residents – with a focus on the way in which they can more fully participate in society. Current barriers that prevent foreign permanent residents from participating in civic organizations at the local municipal level should be eliminated. With expanded rights comes responsibility for enjoying the freedom and privilege of living in Taiwan. We are waiting for the government to show the way in which we can more fully contribute our talents to society.

Ted Knoy
September 11, 2013    curtisakbar@
Ted you are pretty accurate regarding the foreign spouses, however, non-Chinese only need to reside in Taiwan for three years, 183 days in each before applying for citizenship and Chinese spouses need to reside for 4-5 years depending on situation.

So non-Chinese can apply sooner than Chinese spouses but Chinese spouses can keep their nationality, don't need to pass the language or rights as a citizen process and if I'm correct, don't need to reside in Taiwan for 1 year as an effectively stateless person on the blue resident permit.

Chinese spouses recently had the cheek and protested against having to wait longer compared to other nationalities. Personally, I would have preferred to wait one more year and not give up my nationality.

I won't hold my breathe when it comes to improved rights for foreign residents as I believe Taiwan might go down the route of Hong Kong and list certain occupations as not being allowed to gain residency rights or citizenship. As, they already do this with foreign laborers.
September 12, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
Ted you are pretty accurate regarding the foreign spouses, however, non-Chinese only need to reside in Taiwan for three years, 183 days in each before applying for citizenship and Chinese spouses need to reside for 4-5 years depending on situation.

So non-Chinese can apply sooner than Chinese spouses but Chinese spouses can keep their nationality, don't need to pass the language or rights as a citizen process and if I'm correct, don't need to reside in Taiwan for 1 year as an effectively stateless person on the blue resident permit.

Chinese spouses recently had the cheek and protested against having to wait longer compared to other nationalities. Personally, I would have preferred to wait one more year and not give up my nationality.

I won't hold my breathe when it comes to improved rights for foreign residents as I believe Taiwan might go down the route of Hong Kong and list certain occupations as not being allowed to gain residency rights or citizenship. As, they already do this with foreign laborers.
Curtis@,
Thanks for pointing out that Hong Kong is raising its permanent residency requirements excluding certain occupations for permanent residency or citizenship. No wonder. Since mid 2012, 4,000 more people have left Hong Kong than settled there, which was a similar trend the year before. Also, those leaving Hong Kong rose 8% over the previous for the first six months of this year. Taiwan is even offering permanent residency only after two years to emigrants from Hong Kong and Macau who place about HK$1.3 million in a local bank for a year.

With many Asian countries facing falling birthrates, it makes no sense to raise permanent residency requirements. Hopefully, Taiwan will continue the trend of relaxing permanent residency requirements, as well as allow permanent residents to vote in local elections and participate in the government pension system. A good example of relaxing rather than tightening permanent residency requirements is Canada. After it relaxed its rules in 2008, Canadian work visas with a longer period for stay were introduced. Also, the time spent working there before being eligible for permanent residency and citizenship was shortened, and the range of professions for consideration was broadened as well.

As Taiwan has experimented with foreign permanent residency for the past 13 years, I am surprised that the government has not initiated any focus groups, blue ribbon commissions or any other open discussion on how successful the program has been and what needs to be done further. And I just don’t mean statistics showing that there are more and more permanent residents in Taiwan. Permanent residents themselves should be included in policy making discussions on what further steps the government can take in further relaxing permanent residency requirements and expanding the rights of those already here. To prevent the growing permanent resident community from feeling marginalized from Taiwan civic life, open forum discussions need to take place on how this community can become more fully integrated into daily life on the island.

Ted Knoy
September 12, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
Ted you are pretty accurate regarding the foreign spouses, however, non-Chinese only need to reside in Taiwan for three years, 183 days in each before applying for citizenship and Chinese spouses need to reside for 4-5 years depending on situation.

So non-Chinese can apply sooner than Chinese spouses but Chinese spouses can keep their nationality, don't need to pass the language or rights as a citizen process and if I'm correct, don't need to reside in Taiwan for 1 year as an effectively stateless person on the blue resident permit.

Chinese spouses recently had the cheek and protested against having to wait longer compared to other nationalities. Personally, I would have preferred to wait one more year and not give up my nationality.

I won't hold my breathe when it comes to improved rights for foreign residents as I believe Taiwan might go down the route of Hong Kong and list certain occupations as not being allowed to gain residency rights or citizenship. As, they already do this with foreign laborers.
Curtis@,

As you pointed out in an earlier comment, permanent residency is somewhat hollow in that although those residents can live here the rest of their lives, they are still barred from many social services that require a Taiwan I.D. to receive. This ranges from free or discounted public transportation for the elderly to access to long-term care facilities for the elderly. The Taiwan government needs to consider some of the long-term needs of those foreigners by allowing them access to these services and benefits. Such measures may be controversial, but they can be introduced gradually – depending on how long permanent residents continue to live in Taiwan.

Taiwan may want to study a recent proposal in Singapore to distinguish between recent permanent residents and long term ones as a means of creating an incremental system of benefits available to permanent residents for the period that they stay here. Neither Taiwan nor Singapore currently makes this distinction. The motivation for doing so would be to reward “long-stayer” permanent residents for remaining through the thick and thin. But more importantly, such a scheme would try to send the message that settling down has its privileges. In such an incremental system, not all permanent residents have equal benefits. This would be a good opportunity for the government to gradually allow permanent residents access to social services that were previously available only to R.O.C. citizens. Such benefits would increase perhaps in five year blocks as the permanent residents continue to remain in the country. However, permanent residents within such a system would not arrive at the full privileges of being a citizen. This incremental approach would create a greater incentive for permanent residents to seek Taiwan citizenship with all its rights, duties and privileges.

What are some specific social services that Taiwan permanent residents should be allowed? What do you think of this?
September 16, 2013    tedknoy@
What are some of the arguments against allowing foreign permanent residents to vote in local elections in Taiwan? One concern is that if permanent residents are allowed to vote in local elections, then one of them may get elected. However, this would not be the case since they are not allowed to hold public office. However, if they did have the right to vote, maybe it would encourage them to become a naturalized citizen. So in that way, allowing permanent residents the right to vote would become a pathway for future Taiwan citizens to experience the democratic process first at the local level. Another concern is that permanent residents should not be allowed to vote because Taiwan citizens already understand and look after the needs of permanent residents. However, permanent residents may feel that they have the right to be represented since they pay taxes the same as citizens do. Rather than feeling that their concerns are being looked after, permanent residents will likely feel marginalized from society since they do not have an equal voice in how the money from their taxes are spent. Yet another argument against allowing permanent residents to vote in local elections is that doing so would put them on an equal footing with Taiwan citizens. Why should they have an equal say in politics when they have not become citizens? The problem with this argument is that the Taiwan government does not allow its permanent residents to have dual nationality, whereas it allows its citizens to do so. This obvious disadvantage explains why more permanent residents have not become naturalized citizens in Taiwan. And with Taiwan’s declining birthrate and rapid emergence as a “super aging society”, the government needs to eliminate obstacles that prevent permanent residents from becoming citizens and more fully participating in daily civic life on the island.

I understand that allowing foreign permanent residents to vote in local elections is a contentious issue. But the dialogue needs to start somewhere if the growing community of foreign permanent residents is to feel like their voices are heard in daily civic life.
September 16, 2013    tedknoy@
Permanent residency is more than qualifying for a certain criteria. More than rewarding someone for sticking it out and not giving up, permanent residency should be viewed as the Taiwan government equipping with intangible skills that can not be measured by the number of days recorded in a passport or the amount in one’s bank account. Acquiring permanent residency is a personal journey in which one matures in ways to prepare one for more fully participating in society. The government should view permanent residency as an investment in which those foreigners can, upon receiving this right, can join civic society through limited political participation by voting and expressing their concerns in local elections.

Exactly what are some of those intangible skills that permanent residents acquire that would make them productive contributors to society? I remember when I first arrived in Taiwan 23 years ago, feeling excited about my new surroundings and interested in new experiences. During that period, I made many new friends and wanted to discover new places. Then, the longer I stayed, the more I felt that everything was strange and different from where I came from. So a lot of my initial excitement about being in Taiwan was replaced by frustration and confusion. This was the point where I’ve seen a lot of people leave Taiwan and return to their countries. They would blame it on the traffic or Chinese language difficulty or any number of reasons. But I chose to stay. I started to understand and accept the differences between my original country and Taiwan where I was living. I gradually became more confident in speaking Chinese and dealing with daily activities. I even felt like I belonged here. Finally, not only did I enjoy living here but I started to prefer certain values of Taiwan culture over those of where I originally came from.

I’m bringing this up because I hope that the Taiwan government can view us more than just as “foreigners” who have met a certain criteria to obtain permanent residency. Along the way, we have gone under many transformative experiences that, if taken advantage of, can make Taiwan a more diverse society. That is why I am optimistic that the government will eventually allow permanent residents limited political participation by voting in local elections.
September 18, 2013    tedknoy@
Hopefully, Taiwan will soon allow foreign permanent residents to participate in the government pension scheme in order to secure their long term financial stability. Permanent residency requirements stipulate a certain amount of money in a Taiwan bank account or property ownership of a certain value. Yet there is no guarantee that those residents will have enough resources to live in their elderly years. Allowing them to participate in this scheme seems only logical.

A similar example is the social security scheme in the United States, which allows permanent resident to qualify for retirement benefits while in the United States and perhaps even if they move abroad. Individuals do not need to become a U.S. citizen in order to receive those benefits. To receive retirement benefits, individuals or their employers must have paid into the Social Security retirement system. Usually, to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, an individual must have worked for at least 40 quarters of a year (ten years). Not only permanent residents but even some undocumented immigrants can get those benefits if they move abroad. Anyone whose employment was subject to Social Security taxes may be eligible for these benefits, regardless of whether or not they are citizens.

In Taiwan, national pension recipients are eligible for old-age pension, funeral benefits and survivor annuity, as well as disability pension. After universal health coverage was initiated in Taiwan in March 1, the national pension system has been able to provide better coverage for aging, death, and disability benefits to all. National pension disbursements are paid at regular intervals, i.e. monthly, and are continuous. These pension benefits provide a better safeguard to individuals than a lump-sum payment.

Given that the Taiwan government has already granted foreigners permanent residency for their entire lives, they should also be allowed to participate in the government pension system as a safeguard for their long-term financial security.
September 18, 2013    zemat_23@
Browsing the discussions about being an APRC holder, one thing that must be thought of by the government is that, the immediate family (their spouses and kids) of an APRC holder can only be granted an ARC card and not an APRC. Even their kids born in Taiwan only hold a resident status, not a permanent resident. As well as their spouses living with them can only hold an ARC as dependent and are not allowed to work since they don't have a work permit. Which is making it hard for an APRC holder to keep their family here. Imagine the cost of sending your kids to kindergarten or schools, pay for rentals, bills, etc., and having only one parent working?
September 19, 2013    tedknoy@
Thanks for bringing to light the difficulties that the spouses and children of APRC holders living in Taiwan. Although granted the right to live in Taiwan with an alien resident certificate (ARC), those spouses can not work because the ARC does not include a work permit. The only other option of those spouses is to apply for citizenship after residing in Taiwan for three years, 183 days living in Taiwan in each year. But, unlike the Chinese spouses of Taiwan citizens who are allowed dual nationality, the spouses of APRC holders would have to relinquish their original country’s nationality. I don’t believe that the Taiwan government is intentionally trying to discourage the families of APRC holders from living in Taiwan. I think its another example of a permanent residency system that has not thoroughly considered the long term needs and implications of having non-Chinese permanent residents living here the rest of their lives. And it is difficult to collectively voice the concerns of foreign permanent residents since there is no organization in Taiwan where these residents can join. This is owing to that the government won’t release a list of names of foreign permanent residents, owing to privacy laws. If there were a government-recognized forum for permanent residents to offer suggestions on how to remedy current gaps in the law, the government could collect those opinions in some form of blue ribbon commission or government sponsored study on how to make the laws and regulations more uniform for all. Public school access for the children of those foreign permanent residents has not been addressed either. Student tuition in Taiwan’s international schools is much more expensive than that in the public school system. If Taiwan can not accommodate the basic living needs of the spouses and children of permanent residents, then how can they live in Taiwan for the rest of their lives. “Permanent” means the rest of one’s life, but the government needs to more carefully identify the specific needs of foreign permanent residents and their families.
September 20, 2013    xnoisia@
tedknoy@ wrote:
Thanks for bringing to light the difficulties that the spouses and children of APRC holders living in Taiwan. Although granted the right to live in Taiwan with an alien resident certificate (ARC), those spouses can not work because the ARC does not include a work permit. The only other option of those spouses is to apply for citizenship after residing in Taiwan for three years, 183 days living in Taiwan in each year. But, unlike the Chinese spouses of Taiwan citizens who are allowed dual nationality, the spouses of APRC holders would have to relinquish their original country’s nationality. I don’t believe that the Taiwan government is intentionally trying to discourage the families of APRC holders from living in Taiwan. I think its another example of a permanent residency system that has not thoroughly considered the long term needs and implications of having non-Chinese permanent residents living here the rest of their lives. And it is difficult to collectively voice the concerns of foreign permanent residents since there is no organization in Taiwan where these residents can join. This is owing to that the government won’t release a list of names of foreign permanent residents, owing to privacy laws. If there were a government-recognized forum for permanent residents to offer suggestions on how to remedy current gaps in the law, the government could collect those opinions in some form of blue ribbon commission or government sponsored study on how to make the laws and regulations more uniform for all. Public school access for the children of those foreign permanent residents has not been addressed either. Student tuition in Taiwan’s international schools is much more expensive than that in the public school system. If Taiwan can not accommodate the basic living needs of the spouses and children of permanent residents, then how can they live in Taiwan for the rest of their lives. “Permanent” means the rest of one’s life, but the government needs to more carefully identify the specific needs of foreign permanent residents and their families.
Ted, I just read most of the above comments with great interest. Not much more to add, it seems. But I just want to echo the need to bring some of the salient problems to light, and if possible, organize people to come together in a more effective way so as to give more coherence in expressing our concerns as 'foreigners' living in Taiwan. It is my view that much of what is NOT right about the Taiwanese Immigrations laws - despite the progress made over the past few years - is that they are founded on a policy of paranoia against the mainlanders and those from "poorer" countries of SE Asia. This is a delicate subject, so I will not go into it here, but given the prevalence of discriminatory practices that are legally sanctioned in Taiwan, it is clear that the mentality behind this way of doing things must be brought to light, and corrected. And this correction would not be just for the purpose of serving justice to thousands of hardworking 'foreigners' in Taiwan, but also for raising Taiwan as an independent society in the eyes of the world.

I will contact you privately to discuss further.
September 22, 2013    taipeir2001@
This problem has been aired fairly frequently through the years, let's face it, the Taiwan government doesn't particularly care to encourage immigration.
If there's money in it it's a different story.
September 22, 2013    taipeir2001@
Also, many locals still classify people too much as 'us' and 'them'.

However, they are very easily swayed by edicts from top down in Taiwan. It's up to the local resident foreigners’ community to organize together and push for change.
September 23, 2013    tedknoy@
Despite living in Taiwan for 23 years (and the last 13 as a permanent resident), I am still referred to as an “alien”, “foreigner” or “other”. Stereotypes like these suggest that I am less worthy of consideration or respect and have even been seen as less loyal than citizens. In this era of globalization where there is relatively easy movement across borders and an increasingly mobile labor force, these stereotypes about non?citizens and their level of commitment must be challenged. This is why it is important for the Taiwan government to allow permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections.

Like citizens, permanent residents also pay taxes for local services and infrastructure, as well as use municipal services including public transportation, public schools, utilities and other municipal infrastructure. All of us (regardless of citizens or permanent residents) should have a say in how these resources are managed and who is responsible for doing so. Allowing permanent residents to vote in local elections will also make them more interested in the political process early on and help them to better integrate into Taiwan society.

As noncitizens, permanent residents lack political power and are vulnerable to having their interests overlooked. Since these residents have no voting power, elected officials have no motivation in serving their interests. Without the right of permanent residents to vote, the government could easily enact laws that deny these individuals rights and benefits enjoyed by others. However, if permanent residents were allowed to vote in local elections, elected officials would naturally become more interested in the role that this growing community is playing in Taiwan’s future direction. Giving permanent residents an equal voice over how their taxes are used at the local level is also in line with the democratic process in Taiwan, in which previously marginalized groups are acknowledged for their contributions to society in order that they can make this island a more inclusive place to live.
September 24, 2013    tedknoy@
zemat_23@ wrote:
Browsing the discussions about being an APRC holder, one thing that must be thought of by the government is that, the immediate family (their spouses and kids) of an APRC holder can only be granted an ARC card and not an APRC. Even their kids born in Taiwan only hold a resident status, not a permanent resident. As well as their spouses living with them can only hold an ARC as dependent and are not allowed to work since they don't have a work permit. Which is making it hard for an APRC holder to keep their family here. Imagine the cost of sending your kids to kindergarten or schools, pay for rentals, bills, etc., and having only one parent working?
Taiwan prides itself on the notion of filial piety, that children naturally feel obligated to provide care and support for their elderly parents and relatives. Filial piety plays a major role in long-term care for the elderly. Children in Taiwan who send their frail elderly parents into institutional care are often frowned upon as being impious. The government even has an elderly abandonment law where parents can sue their children if they feel they are not given adequate support for their living needs.

Then why are the children of foreign permanent residents in Taiwan no longer eligible to receive residency based on their parents’ legal status once they become 20 years old? Why would the government separate families in this way since those children can no longer live in Taiwan legally? Even if those children were born or grew up in Taiwan, they will have to leave Taiwan once they are no longer considered as dependents (i.e. the age of 20). In all practical concerns, these children are very much Taiwanese: they speak Mandarin fluently and identify with Taiwan culture. Still, they have no way of legally staying in the country once they turn 20. More than conflicting with the moral obligation of filial piety, this unfair law seems to go against the spirit of the elderly abandonment law in which children are obligated to provide support for their aging parents. The purpose of permanent residency is to allow foreigners to spend the rest of their lives here. But under this law, many of those families are forced to leave the country once their children are no longer considered as dependents.

Now that the Taiwan government has granted permanent residency to more than 6,000 foreigners so far, it needs to examine how current regulations conflict with the long term needs of this growing community. And even on a reciprocal basis, Taiwanese are granted permanent residency (green cards) in the United States in order to take care of their elderly parents in America. Why would the Taiwan government not offer the same reciprocal gesture to the foreign permanent resident community here?
September 25, 2013    tedknoy@
Toronto, Canada offers a valuable reference if the Taiwan government were to consider allowing foreign permanent residents to vote in municipal elections. In June of this year, the Toronto City council approved this right for all of its permanent residents. The final decision is up to the Canadian provincial government. If is passes, as many as 250,000 permanent residents would be allowed to vote in local elections. New people in Toronto would be added to its voter list in the 2018 election if the change is made. One of the main arguments for allowing permanent residents the right to vote is that they pay property taxes — either directly or through their rent as tenants — and make use of city services. Why shouldn’t these people a say in how those taxes are spent and those services delivered? Another argument was that empowering newcomers with the right to participate in local democracy will increase their desire to participate even more — to become citizens. So voting in local elections is actually an experiment in democracy so that permanent residents can get a taste of what to expect when they become citizens.

Some cities in about 40 countries, including Dublin and Oslo, currently allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. There are sometimes restrictions. In Oslo, for instance, newcomers must have lived in Norway for three years to be allowed to vote. In New Zealand, everyone is allowed to vote after one year of residency. Another example is New York City, which may soon become the first major city in the United States to allow non-citizens the right to vote in local elections. The City Council proposal would allow US permanent residents who have lived in New York City for six months or longer the right to vote in local races. The main argument for doing so was that one of the founding principles of the country was 'No Taxation Without Representation.'

The Taiwan Government should carefully study recent trends and consider the benefits of allowing its more than 6,000 permanent residents the right to vote in local elections.
September 26, 2013    tedknoy@
xnoisia@,

Thanks for bringing up a sensitive issue that I have thought about several times, especially when I see hardworking migrant workers such as those from the Philippines, Thailand or other Southeast Asian countries. With the nature of the migrant worker system in Taiwan, there is no path for permanent residency. I take it for granted from the first day I entered Taiwan as a legal resident, all of the days I spent here could count towards eventual permanent residency. Migrant workers, however, come to Taiwan on a specific contract that does not last long enough for them to qualify for permanent residency. Then after their contracts are finished, they return to their country. If they do return to Taiwan on another contract, the time clock starts all over again in terms of the number of days they are present on the island. In the residential community where I live, I know a Filipino caregiver who has lived in Taiwan for a total of almost 15 years (which is more than twice the amount of time that a foreign professional without a Taiwanese spouse needs to qualify for permanent residency). But under the governmental rules regarding the nature of her work as a migrant worker, she can never become a permanent resident under her current work circumstances. I understand that Taiwan wants to bring in professional foreign talent and give them a path to permanent residency. So I really don’t know the answer. Many would argue that permanent residency (or normal residency for that matter) should be granted only for those who take work that Taiwan citizens can not do so that local jobs are not taken away from cheaper labor. I think that time will have to tell how all of this turns out. At present, I don’t see Taiwan becoming similar to what the United States was like in the early 20th century, in which anyone (regardless of their qualifications) could enter the country and be successful if they worked hard enough. Obvious differences such as Taiwan being an island versus a large country also fit into the equation. Still, factors such as Taiwan becoming a “super aging society” (where 30% of the population is over 65 years old) could dramatically change the landscape and attitudes towards people from Southeast Asian countries settling down in Taiwan. As for mainland Chinese spouses (as someone pointed out in an earlier thread on this forum), non-Chinese can apply for Taiwan citizenship sooner than Chinese spouses. However, only Chinese spouses can keep their nationality (i.e. dual nationality). Also, unlike non-Chinese, Chinese spouses don't need to pass the language examination as a part of the citizen process. Also, they don't need to reside in Taiwan for 1 year as an effectively stateless person on the blue resident permit.

Still, thank you for raising the sensitive point about how not all things are equal among foreigners when trying to settle down and make Taiwan their home.
September 29, 2013    tedknoy@
The changing demographics of Taiwan, subsequently leading to a more inclusive society, will also directly benefit foreign permanent residents as they strive to more actively participate in daily civic life. Hopefully, as a result, those residents can secure the right to vote in municipal elections as an expression of limited political participation in the island’s vibrant democracy.

Many of the nation’s 460,000 new immigrants are from China and Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. According to the Taiwan Ministry of Education, immigrant student enrollment in elementary schools increased by 5.3% over the previous year, totaling 203,000 students, (of which 97,758 are girls). Children of new immigrants already make up 9.2% of the entire nation's elementary school student population. The largest percentage of students with parents from a foreign country was 39% from Vietnam and 36.5% from mainland China.

Despite the government’s efforts to support these new immigrant children through programs such as the Torch Project, the local media has often spreads negative news and stereotypes about the children of these bride immigrants. The local media often criticizes these children for a lack of communication and social skills and claims that their learning ability lags behind Taiwanese children in the school (even though academic studies have proved otherwise). Even though the bride immigrants’ language limitations, life customs and less formal education might influence their confidence in supporting their children’s school assignment, these children have a high learning motivation and positive attitudes towards acquiring new experiences. As these children grow up, whether the larger society considers them to be “Taiwanese” enough will become a very real problem. But if current trends continue, the outcome will be that Taiwan will become a more inclusive society.

With these positive developments, as Taiwan becomes a more inclusive society, foreign permanent residents should take advantage of this demographic shift in society by striving to more actively participate in daily civic life. Voting suffrage in municipal elections would be a great start.
October 1, 2013    tedknoy@
An encouraging initiative in Taiwan recently regarding permanent residency is a petition sent to the National Immigration Agency. The petition calls for the government to grant permanent residency and work permits to the children and spouses of foreign professionals who are already permanent residents. Details of the petition can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/nia-keep-families-together .

Under the current law, the child dependents of foreign permanent residents (regardless of whether they were born or grew up in Taiwan) are no longer considered dependents when they reach 20 years old and must leave Taiwan. In all practical concerns, these children are very much Taiwanese: they speak Mandarin fluently and identify with Taiwan culture. Still, they have no way of legally staying in the country once they turn 20. More than conflicting with the moral obligation of filial piety which Taiwan and Chinese society highly value, this unfair law seems to go against the spirit of the elderly abandonment law in which children are legally obligated to provide support for their aging parents. Although permanent residency allows foreigners to spend the rest of their lives in Taiwan, this law unintentionally forces many families to leave the country once their children are no longer considered dependents.

Kudos to the foreign community in Taiwan for bringing up this petition. Foreigners in Taiwan, even permanent residents, have been reticent about bringing up their concerns in the past; involvement in local protests can still lead to deportation. So it is good to see foreign community members to use the medium of the local media and other initiatives to petition the government for change. Given that the more than 6,000 foreign permanent residents in Taiwan have no political representation, initiatives like these ones will have to suffice until the Taiwan government allows foreign permanent residents limited political participation by voting in municipal elections.
October 1, 2013    jesusmena80@
CURTISAKBAR@ wrote:
He has spent the majority of his life in Taiwan but he hasn't bothered changing his nationality, I wonder why? 24yrs and only now getting an APRC, WHAT HAS HE BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME?
He taught technical writing, edited over 55000 publications and wrote 14 books. He also researched in a couple of places for about 8 years.

That's what he has been doing, and it seems that you didn't even read the news.

Now, you sound like complaining about him not getting the Taiwanese nationality. Why does this bother you? In which way does it affect you? Is it a problem itself? What's wrong with it? Why on Earth must somebody give up his own nationality for getting another that it's not even recognized by most of the countries in the World?
October 2, 2013    tedknoy@
When I arrived in Taiwan in 1989, the island lacked many of the legal safeguards that it now enjoys that protects the rights of vulnerable individuals in society. Given that vacuum in legal security for many, as a foreigner, I learned of the importance of multiplying personal relationships or “guanxi” as a means of protection in what I felt at the time was an often insecure and hierarchical environment. In that sense, Taiwanese are very resourceful is this area of human relations. They taught me the importance of nurturing my “guanxi”, which often involved accepting and returning favors. This idea of reciprocity in daily social relations is something that I learned in Taiwan to appreciate and respect. That is a fundamental way in which I have changed in my thinking while living here. Although it seems simple, it took me several years to understand how “guanxi” and reciprocity could not only make up for gaps in legal safeguards (such as no permanent residency for foreigners for the first 11 years of my stay in this country), but also orient me on how social relations in Taiwan work versus the way they did where I grew up in the United States. Reciprocity is much more than tit-for-tat or the Golden Rule of “I treat you the way that I would want to be treated.” Simply, reciprocity (as I learned it in Taiwan) means that first, when a favor is offered it will be accepted. Second, when a favor is received, it can be expected to be returned. Third, one has to aspire to return a favor with no delay. Fourth, whenever a favor is asked, it has to be delivered. And finally, one may expect a favor to be done, but it should not be demanded. I understand that life doesn’t always work out according to these unwritten social rules. But they gave me a general framework on how I as a foreigner could get along better with others and appreciate where I was living.

Now that Taiwan has many of the legal safeguards that is was lagging behind in when I arrived more than 20 years ago, some may think that these rules are unnecessary. However, permanent residency is not just meeting a certain criteria of living in the country for a certain amount of time so that foreigners can spend the rest of their lives here. It is also about learning some of these important intangible and unwritten social rules in daily civic life in Taiwan. So the idea of allowing foreign permanent residents the right to vote in local elections should not be viewed as just giving more rights away to foreigners. It should be viewed in the spirit of reciprocity, that these residents should be granted limited political participation in municipal elections as part of the unwritten contract or social rules that they have abided by in the process of becoming a permanent resident.
October 2, 2013    curtisakbar@
jesusmena shut up, that is old news and if you read the posts you will see that the issue has been discussed already. Stop trolling, trying to find trouble.

I am here, reading the recent posts from Ted and talking about ways to improve Taiwan, making it fair and equal for all.
October 3, 2013    tedknoy@
For me, acquiring permanent residency in Taiwan was more about character building than about specific criteria to be met on a government checklist. The outcome of acquiring permanent residency was how I had matured in many ways, rather than the number of days I had spent in the country or how much money was in my bank account. I’m talking about intangible character builders such as interpersonal skills, linguistic ability, curiosity in cultures other than my own, tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity, flexibility, patience and respect, cultural empathy, strong sense of self, and a sense of humor. I am by no means perfect in any of these areas. But if you knew the 24 year old I was when I first arrived in Taiwan back in 1989, you could tell that I was definitely lacking in these personal traits. Once I decided to make Taiwan my home for the rest of my life, many of the traits I listed above gradually became a part of me the longer that I stayed in Taiwan. For instance, I had to become more self-oriented in the sense of looking out for my own mental well being by building my own self-reliance, confidence and esteem. More than just being self-oriented, I also had to build a greater awareness of others such as how to interact with others from a different culture. This led to a greater cultural empathy, cultural awareness and the ability adjust my own behavior to meet different cultural norms than those I was used to in the country where I grew up.

I’m bringing up some of the above ways I have matured as a result of living in Taiwan so that government can view some of the unique skills that the more than 6,000 foreign permanent residents have acquired and mastered – and how these skills could contribute to daily civic life if these residents were allowed limited political participation at the local level by voting in municipal elections. Shattering the stereotypes of what it means to be a “foreigner” permanent resident requires some sort of mechanism that would allow these residents to more closely interact with Taiwanese in daily civic life. For me, limited suffrage rights for this growing community is a positive first step.
October 4, 2013    tedknoy@
Another way that becoming a permanent resident has transformed my thinking is the Confucian values that still play a strong role in Taiwan society. In addition to giving me a general framework on how to evaluate common relations with others in Taiwan, these values have also challenged many of my previous ways of thinking. For instance, stability in society is often based on unequal human relationships. Confucianism defines five basic human relationships as “wu lun”: ruler-subject, father-son, older brother-younger brother, husband-wife, and senior-junior friend. These relationships are based on mutual and reciprocal obligations, where the junior side is obliged to pay respect and obedience to the senior whereas the senior is obliged to protect and foster the junior. Rather than a democratic approach where everyone is equal, I still see value in many professional and personal relationships that follow this Confucian value. While I was initially hostile to such unequal relations when I first came to Taiwan, I have learned to appreciate it and see many of those patterns in my own life.

Another Confucian value that has changed a lot of my thinking was the whole notion of family as the foundation and prototype of social organizations. People are not recognized as individuals, but members of a family. Keeping peace in the family is the key objective and it is achieved by maintaining every member’s face; not offending anybody. Again, by using my Western lenses when I first came to Taiwan, I often viewed families as oppressive and even stifling individualism and free will. But the longer I live here, I appreciate the glue that keeps many families together in this way.

These are just a couple of simple examples how Confucian values are alive and well, and have made it much easier for me as a foreigner to settle down here as a permanent resident. If the Taiwan government could only realize how local values have transformed the lives of the more than 6,000 foreign permanent residents on this island, I think it would be more willing to incorporate us into daily civic life, such as granting us limited political participation with the right to vote in municipal elections.
October 4, 2013    curtisakbar@
Like the good folks in the U S of A said, "No taxation without representation!"

I completely agree with that, why should long term residents live in a society where they don't have a say on how their tax money is being spent.

But I actually feel worried about APRC holders when they reach retirement age. What will they do? They are not required or allowed to join the government pension and private pensions in Taiwan don't seem as mature and/or stable as in other countries. I know some will invest in savings accounts but what happens if that company fails, will the government help out? And of course for everyone that does save, there will be countless others that don't. When they are old and can't work, what will the government do? Kick them out of the country or leave them to starve as they should have had better financial planning.
October 7, 2013    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
Like the good folks in the U S of A said, "No taxation without representation!"

I completely agree with that, why should long term residents live in a society where they don't have a say on how their tax money is being spent.

But I actually feel worried about APRC holders when they reach retirement age. What will they do? They are not required or allowed to join the government pension and private pensions in Taiwan don't seem as mature and/or stable as in other countries. I know some will invest in savings accounts but what happens if that company fails, will the government help out? And of course for everyone that does save, there will be countless others that don't. When they are old and can't work, what will the government do? Kick them out of the country or leave them to starve as they should have had better financial planning.
curtis@,

By allowing foreign permanent residents to live the rest of their lives in Taiwan yet excluding them from the government pension scheme and other social services for the elderly, the government is inadvertently creating a second class citizenry in which some of those residents could end up destitute and homeless without any social services available to them. Do we have to wait for a local TV report about an elderly, homeless foreign permanent resident wandering the streets of Taipei without any available social services or adequate government pension system, owing to that the government did not have the foresight to take measures in the planning stages of the APRC?

Especially vulnerable are those foreigners who were awarded permanent residency based on their contribution to Taiwan, in which they were exempt from demonstrating any personal savings or property ownership. Many of those individuals are missionaries whose home organizations are overseas. They often have to return to their own countries to raise money in order to cover their living expenses while in Taiwan. Why didn’t the government consider the long term implications of giving them permanent residency when they lack the long term financial savings and property ownership that other permanent residents have?

The novelty of acquiring permanent residency in Taiwan is wearing of. The rules are much more relaxed than when I obtained it in 2000. Relaxing financial savings requirements and property ownership requirements may allow more people to receive their permanent residency. But in the long term, doing so creates a larger potential pool of people who will not have access to the government pension system or other elderly benefits…whether it is discounted public transportation for individuals over 65 years old or access to governmental residential facilities for the elderly. This is access denied to individuals who have paid taxes all of their lives in Taiwan.

I am not suggesting that the government tighten up permanent residency requirements with higher amounts required for personal savings or property ownership. Now that the “cat has been let out of the bag”, the government needs to allow foreign permanent residents the same basic safeguards that Taiwanese enjoy. With all of the measures that the government is taking in preparation of Taiwan becoming a “superaging” society (i.e. at least 30% of the population is 65 years or older), officials should also prioritize the well being of aging foreign permanent residents who are entitled to the same rights.

As you said Curtis, no taxation without representation. Like citizens, foreign permanent residents also pay taxes for public services in Taiwan all of their lives. So why aren’t they allowed access to those services and the government pension scheme?
October 8, 2013    tedknoy@
curtis@,
A couple other comments about the points you raised.

Gaps in the current permanent residency law such as the inability of those residents to participate in the government pension system or denied access to social services (especially for the elderly) are only the symptoms of a larger problem. These issues receive little or no attention because foreign permanent residents are not allowed to vote in local municipal elections, robbing them of the right to have a say on how their tax dollars are spent. Without this right, foreign permanent residents will be reduced to having their interests “looked after” by a caretaker government, without the ability to express their concerns in the local ballot box. As many voting constituents already compete for the attention of local public officials, those officials will be less likely to cater to the needs of a group of non-voting residents.

As noncitizens, permanent residents lack political power and are vulnerable to having their interests overlooked. Since these residents have no voting power, elected officials have no motivation in serving their interests. Without the right of permanent residents to vote, the government could easily enact laws that deny these individuals rights and benefits enjoyed by others, such as the inability of those residents to participate in the government pension system or denied access to social services. So after foreign permanent residents are included in the governmental pension scheme and allowed access to other governmental services for the elderly, suffrage rights for foreign permanent residents as a form of limited political participation in Taiwan’s daily civic life must be pursued. Currently, the only means of registering the opinions of permanent residents is the occasional governmental survey that registers permanent residents’ opinions on various issues, such as spousal rights. However, this sporadic and infrequent approach pales in comparison to allowing foreign permanent residents to regularly voice their opinions at the ballot box in municipal elections.
October 9, 2013    tedknoy@
More than giving me a sense of belonging to this country, permanent residency has also affected me in many profound ways. Without my change of thinking in several ways or at least a respect for why others in Taiwan think in a certain way, I could never have stayed long enough to become a permanent resident. First is the notion of hierarchy. I remember when I first came here, wondering why some relationships had such a clear cut and seemingly rigid hierarchy. At that time, I thought things would run more smoothly if things were more decentralized and everyone was on the same level. But along with the unequally distributed power that comes with hierarchical relations, there is also genuine respect in Taiwan for seniority and age. And with the longer time I spent in Taiwan and the older I became, I began to understand how seemingly rigid hierarchical relationships are in many ways the glue that keeps people together, professionally or otherwise.

Another way in which my thinking has changed since obtaining my permanent residency was the ability to think more collectively than individualistically. Rather than always pointing out how individuals stand out or are unique, I have come to appreciate Taiwan’s emphasis on harmony, family-orientation, guanxi and reciprocity. Finally, another important way in which my thinking has changed is how I now seem to be future oriented rather than focused only on the here and now. I see this daily in the people around me, with their thriftiness and long-term orientation in many ways.

For me, acquiring permanent residency was more than just complying with a list of government criteria. It required a transformation of my thinking in many ways. If the government more fully integrate Taiwan’s more than 600,000 permanent residents into daily civic life (such as through limited political participation by allowing those residents to vote in municipal elections), public officials and policy planners could take advantage of the ways in which the rich experiences of this growing community could make this island a richer and more inclusive society.
October 9, 2013    paul_cowsill@
skyhermit@ wrote:
When Taiwan changes its laws to allow dual nationality...I'll become 'Taiwanese'. Until then, I see no logical reason to give up my US passport ---which is required for those seeking ROC citizenship.

BTW...Curtis Baker is a well known troll who enjoys sparking online flame wars.

Forcing someone to give up their original nationality is unnecessary and might even be seen as somewhat racist or xenophobic. I've lived here for 30 years, speak Chinese fluently, am married to a local, have 2 kids and an APRC. When the day comes that I can be a dual citizen...count me in.
Dual citizenship is only for Taiwanese who maintain their Taiwanese nationality but immigrate to other countries.
October 10, 2013    tedknoy@
A major obstacle to the advancement of permanent residents’ rights in Taiwan is the negative stereotypes towards foreigners in general by the local media. For me, the word “foreigner” means that, in Chinese culture, individuals must all be the same (i.e. conformity); so if you are not the same as others or do not conform, then you must be foreign. And the local media in Taiwan often reflects societal views about foreigners, how they are different from local people rather than their shared interests with other Taiwanese. Instead of trying to change or even challenge those views, the media often perpetuates those stereotypes with a steady barrage of sensational stories about how foreigners have broken the law or unwritten moral codes in Taiwan. At times, it almost seems like the media finds itself as responsible for reporting such sensationalist stories as a form of social deterrent so that foreigners will not cross a certain line. For instance, even inconsequential stories such as lewd behavior between foreign couples in public parks in the early morning hours often become leading news stories in national newspapers. In its effort to use such stories as a social deterrent so that foreigners do not stray against social norms in Taiwan, the media not only perpetuates harmful stereotypes but also plays down the significant contributions that Taiwan’s more than 6,000 permanent residents are making on this island.

If the local media’s intention is not to overly publicize the illegal behaviors of a few bad apples in Taiwan’s foreign community as a form of social control or deterrent against future illegal behavior, then I believe that the media is simply looking for sensational news to pay for advertisement space or time. Without a balance of the positive contributions of the foreign community on the island, the local media makes it more difficult for us long term residents who must dispel harmful stereotypes about ourselves on a daily basis. What is a more sensational story in the local media than one involving someone who sticks out as foreign, not belonging to this society, and does something against the grain of society? This obviously sells newspapers. But such harmful stereotypes make it even harder for us decades long term residents who are struggling in the reform of laws that would more fully integrate us into this society.
October 13, 2013    tedknoy@
Prejudging members of the foreign community with sensational stories laced with harmful stereotypes in the local media (rather than evaluating them on their individual characteristics) especially harms permanent residents since they continue to live in Taiwan, versus tourists that come to the island, do something illegal, have their exploits described vividly in the newspaper (including details such as their skin color or their clothing worn), and then leave the island shortly thereafter (voluntarily or otherwise deported).

Its not the nature of the offenses described in the media that bothers me. Rather it is the media emphasis that such offenses reflect the inherent differences of foreigners from the local population, that they are unable to fit in or conform to social norms. As a simple example, one of my “foreign” friends who speaks Mandarin fluently with a Taiwanese accent occasionally performs in local television advertisements. The program advertisers often ask him not to speak Mandarin fluently like a native speaker, but rather to speak with a “typical” foreign accent. The reasoning for such as request is that it would make the audience feel more comfortable; more importantly, his “foreign” accent distinguishes how he is different from other Chinese speakers. Although this is a simple example, this emphasis in the local media on how “foreigners” are different rather than similar to the culture where they are trying to adjust to is what bothers me.

As I understand, Chinese culture traditionally stresses uniformity rather than individuality in order for people to reach a general consensus or conform to certain norms. In contrast, by their nature of being different from most of the population, foreigners are often portrayed in the local environment as incapable of conforming to local norms, as evidenced by the sensational and exhaustive descriptions of their offenses in the local media. I am not suggesting that illegal behavior of foreigners should be overlooked. I am calling for a balance in the local media and news coverage that reflects how many foreigners (especially permanent residents) do conform to the social norms in Taiwan and are very much like other Taiwanese in many ways.

October 14, 2013    tedknoy@
Encouraging news recently from the Taiwan government on relaxed regulations that will make life easier for foreign permanent residents and working professionals. Still, these measures are only temporary measures for larger reforms that are necessary in the current permanent residency laws.

Under these recent proposals, the National Immigration Agency will allow the spouses and children of those foreign nationals with permanent residence permits to obtain such permits simultaneously. Additionally, white-collar professionals and engineers will be able stay in Taiwan for a maximum of 90 days right after the expiration of their permits, compared to the current 15 days only. Moreover, a revision in the Labor Pension Act will require employers to contribute monthly pension payments to the individual pension accounts of foreign spouses who are allowed to work in Taiwan, with the payment set at 6% of their insured monthly salary. Furthermore, a proposal for the Labor Pension Act would allow white-collar foreign professionals to participate in the new labor retirement pension system. Furthermore, another proposal calls for the government to drop the prohibition against white-collar expatriates from working outside of the employment sanctioned in their residency permit.

If these above proposals become law, this would tremendously benefit foreign permanent residents and working professionals. Still, these proposed measures lack a mechanism by which permanent residents can voice their concerns and receive limited representation from the taxes that they pay. As far as I’m considered, this can only be achieved by allowing permanent residents to vote in municipal elections Taiwan’s permanent residents are more than just taxpayers and service users. As the Republic of China constitution forbids dual nationality of foreigners, allowing permanent residents to vote in local elections as a limited form of political participation would make these community members feel that they have a more relevant place in Taiwan society. Voting represents a powerful form of inclusiveness, symbolic and otherwise, that would allow permanent residents to more proudly identify themselves as fully engaged in Taiwan’s daily civic life. With this official voice, politicians and decision makers would have to take seriously the interests of the growing community of foreign permanent residents when making political decisions. In this scenario, Taiwan democracy becomes more inclusive when it empowers all who have the right to permanent abode to participate in its daily civic life.
October 15, 2013    tedknoy@
Taiwan should more actively strive to reduce negative stereotypes of foreigners in the local media. Constantly reporting on issues where local Taiwanese and the growing foreign community are viewed as constantly in conflict over finite resources can create greater feelings of prejudice in the general public. Instead of always describing how foreigners and local citizens are on the opposite spectrum of issues or values, the local media should focus on circumstances in which foreigners and local Taiwanese have to cooperate to overcome mutual challenges.

Negative stereotypes can be reduced when local Taiwanese and foreign community members groups are portrayed as cooperating on matters of mutual interest – rather than constantly describing their differences, which is often the case in local reporting. If the foreign community can be viewed as working toward the same goals as the local population, this would do a lot to reduce the ambivalence or negative attitudes that the general public has towards the 6,000 strong permanent resident community or foreigners in general. I would love to see a local Taiwan TV program in which foreign community members are portrayed as working cooperatively with local citizens towards a mutual goal. Such programming would promote positive views of people of all backgrounds. Also, the Taiwan media should focus on foreign individuals as individuals, rather than just as representations of their cultures. Even positive portrayals of foreigners in Taiwan media often stress that what those individuals accomplish is representative of their culture – rather than looking at the unique merits of those individuals. Characterizing the good or bad deeds of foreigners as representative of the culture that they come from leads to dangerous caricatures and stereotypes that are harmful. All individuals are different and, therefore, should be evaluated based on their own merits – not on some vague overgeneralization of how “those people” are.

Accentuating our similarities and shared interests, rather than our differences, would be a positive step for the local media in portraying the foreign community in Taiwan.
October 17, 2013    tedknoy@
The negative way in which the local media often portrays foreigners in Taiwan harms permanent residents in several ways.

First, while such portrayals may be intended to function as a social instrument to curb unlawful or “immoral” behavior of foreigners, they actually diminish the self-esteem and expectations of new immigrants and permanent residents in terms of how much they can participate in Taiwan’s daily civic life. Without a balance of stories that describe how foreigners are cooperating with local citizens towards a mutual goal, the local media often alienates the foreign community (which often leads to cynicism) by reflecting dangerous caricatures and stereotypes of foreigners( i.e. how they are different from others in Taiwan society) rather than evaluating them as individuals, based on their own merits – not on some vague overgeneralization of how a particular group of people act.

Second, another way in which negative portrayals of foreigners in Taiwan may harm permanent residents and new immigrants is that such media coverage may either promote prejudice against them or, equally harmful, simply fail to challenge the stereotypes or prejudices that are already held in the general public. For instance, a few years ago, local media gave extensive coverage on comments of the Deputy Minister of Education who asked foreign spouses not to have too many children because doing so would overburden Taiwan’s educational system. Subsequent academic studies proved this allegation false; the children of a foreign parent do perform equivalent to those of Taiwanese children. Still, with those widely spread comments, the damage had been done. Stereotypes or prejudices towards the children of foreign parents who are in the public school system not only hurts those families, but also stymies the increasingly important role that the foreign community will play in Taiwan, as the island had the lowest birthrate worldwide in 2010 and Taiwan’s population has already peaked and will begin to decrease in 2016.

Policymakers need to address how negative portrayals of foreigners in the local media affect new immigrants and the over 6,000 permanent residents, i.e. individuals who have made a lifetime commitment to Taiwan society.
October 18, 2013    tedknoy@
Local media in Taiwan should be aware of how their coverage of foreigners may harm permanent residents and other foreigners in general who are trying to assimilate and make Taiwan their home. This is apparent in several ways.

First, although stereotypes in the local media about foreigners may be initially based on fact, they may harden the public consciousness and prove impossible to eliminate - even after the social circumstances that gave rise to them have changed. For instance, previously, the local media often portrayed the children of foreign spouses as unable to keep up with other Taiwan students in the public school system, even occasionally accusing them of overburdening the nation’s education system. Although subsequent studies found that those children may have more difficulty in acquiring assistance from their foreign mothers in homework than their foreign counterparts, those same studies demonstrated that those children do not lag behind in aptitude behind Taiwanese children despite their initial difficulties. Yet despite this empirical evidence, the media stereotype is still difficult to overcome in society.

Second, if not perpetuating harmful stereotypes, the local media in Taiwan still often tolerates such stereotypes and leaves them unchallenged by not presenting balanced perspectives on how the foreign community is contributing to Taiwan’s betterment, rather than just proving to be a societal burden. Even what begins as a neutral observation towards the foreign community may become distorted over time and eventually used prejudicially. While such negative stereotypes may indeed be based on how the foreign community differs from the larger population in Taiwan, media portrayal of these negative differences only without portraying positive differences as well is unfair and prejudicial.

The local media in Taiwan needs to reevaluate its practices on how it reports on long term residents on the island and the foreign community in general by accentuating our similarities and shared interests, rather than our differences with the larger population in Taiwan.
October 21, 2013    tedknoy@
Taiwan should look to the successful examples of other countries when it considers how to incorporate foreign permanent residents in the government’s pension system.

For instance, in Japan, all residents between 20 and 59 years old, irrespective of their nationality, must participate in the national pension system and contribute to it. The Japanese public pension system uniquely incorporates an intergenerational support mechanism that covers all residents, regardless of their nationality. In addition to providing an old-age pension, the pension system also provides disability coverage as well as survivors’ pension when residents have unexpected incidents causing financial difficulties.

Another example is Canada, in which citizens or permanent residents 65 and older who have lived in the country for at least 10 years are eligible for Old Age Security (OAS). Pension increases with the number of years a person has lived in Canada. In the United States, permanent residents qualify for retirement benefits and they do not need to become a U.S. citizen. For the permanent resident to receive retirement benefits, their employers must have paid into the Social Security retirement system. Usually, to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, an individual must have worked for a combined total of at least 40 quarters of a year (ten years).


In Taiwan, national pension recipients are eligible for old-age pension, funeral benefits and survivor annuity, as well as disability pension. After universal health coverage was initiated in Taiwan in March 1, the national pension system has been able to provide better coverage for aging, death, and disability benefits to all. National pension disbursements are paid at regular intervals, i.e. monthly, and are continuous. These pension benefits provide a better safeguard to individuals than a lump-sum payment. To contribute to the long term security of its more than 6,000 foreign permanent residents, the government should allow them to participate in this scheme.
October 23, 2013    tedknoy@
The Taiwan government’s approach towards foreign permanent residency should be less on assimilation as the way in which these residents can integrate into the island’s daily civic life. Assimilation is one-way integration, in which permanent residents are solely responsible for their integration rather than support from the host country. A typical attitude of those favoring assimilation is “Why should I adapt to them if they are in my country?” This ambivalent attitude towards the more than 6,000 foreign permanent residents trying to make Taiwan their home will ultimately keep this island from becoming the culturally diverse place that it needs to become. And this need for cultural diversity is not for altruistic reasons. With the world’s lowest birthrate in 2010, Taiwan is rapidly becoming a “super aging society” in which 30% of the population will be over 65 years old. As the Taiwanese population will start to decrease in 2016 and the nation’s educational system faces major consolidation in the number of universities owing to the dwindling number of students, the government needs to increasingly rely on foreign professionals and Southeast Asian migrant workers for industrial productivity and quality of life.

But in order to more fully integrate foreign permanent residents into Taiwan, the government must promote public awareness campaigns emphasizing that integration of this growing population is not one-way, with the entire burden of integration placed on these residents. More than just “tolerating” foreigners who are trying to make this island their home for the rest of their lives, Taiwan can only truly become a culturally diverse society when integration is a two-way adaption on the part of both these new permanent residents and immigrants, as well as the larger Taiwanese population. This is the most effective way to make the island a more tolerant society.

Despite the gradual relaxing of permanent residency requirements and reform in related laws that include these residents in governmental services that were once only available to Taiwan citizens, foreign permanent residents can not integrate into society on their own. A greater public awareness of how the larger population can help to facilitate this community’s integration as a two-way adaption will yield tremendous benefits in the future. More than the government’s current emphasis on how foreign permanent residents and immigrants can assimilate, two-way adaption will ultimately help to create a multicultural society in Taiwan. A positive first step would be more positive portrayals in the media of foreigners working cooperatively with the larger population on mutually shared concerns, rather than always accentuating their differences.
June 17, 2014    tedknoy@
Not only have the conditions for obtaining permanent residency in Taiwan relaxed, but the Taiwan government has also expanded the rights of those with an APRC. I am encouraged that as time passes, permanent residents will find their lives as convenient (if not even more) than their original country. Taiwan is definitely headed in the right direction.
June 26, 2014    curtisakbar@
Slowly it is opening up, but perhaps with the increased Sinosphere the walls could go back up quite quickly.

Some more positive news, foreign spouses and certain APRC holders can now enroll into the Labour Pension System, so they are now covered by the Labour Insurance Retirement Fund and Labour Pension system. Still no National Pension, so all those housewives and househusbands are still left without any old age coverage.
June 30, 2014    tedknoy@
Curtis, thank you for this wonderful news. One step at a time. I know this issue is close to your heart. Thank you for keeping your eye out for related news. I really appreciate you sharing this with me. I will find out if this new ruling regarding the labor pension system affects me.
June 30, 2014    Miller.henry641@
tedknoy@ wrote:
One reason why I believe that the Taiwan government should allow foreigners with permanent residency (APRC) to vote in local elections is that limited political participation will make this growing segment of the Taiwan population less prone to cynicism. Some of the comments posted on the online editions of the English language newspapers in Taiwan are a case in point. Although constructive at times, cynicism is more often a distrust of others' apparent motives or ambitions, or a general disconnect from the Taiwan society we are living in. And this may be further compounded by some of us foreigners not being proficient in the Mandarin language, or at least functional on a daily basis. I’m not saying that allowing foreigners with permanent residency to vote in local elections will make us fluent in Chinese. But it would bolster our self-confidence to know that we can more fully participate in the country where we have chosen to spend the rest of our lives. With this bestowed right of limited participation in Taiwan’s politics, there would be less of a disconnect in our lives from all of the political activities going on in this vibrant democracy. Cynicism often occurs when one feels left out or unable to be socially involved. Allowing foreigners with permanent residency (APRC) to vote in local elections would give us a medium by which we can more fully participate in this society and feel that we belong to this place that we call home. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hope that the Taiwan government will study how other progressive countries in Asia such as South Korea or Hong Kong have successfully integrated their local foreign permanent residents by allowing them the right to vote in local elections.

Ted Knoy
Absolutely spot-on Mr. Knoy. Excellent analysis. I would much welcome participating in the local political scheme. I have been told on more than one occasion that I should be the local li zhang. Cheers and a belated congrats.
June 30, 2014    miller.henry641@
"Some more positive news, foreign spouses and certain APRC holders can now enroll into the Labour Pension System, so they are now covered by the Labour Insurance Retirement Fund and Labour Pension system. Still no National Pension, so all those housewives and househusbands are still left without any old age coverage."

Interesting news. Thank you Curtis. As Mr. Knoy mentioned, I look forward to learning more about this.
July 11, 2014    curtisakbar@
What has been seen as a main obstacle for foreign nationals seeking to become Republic of China citizens — that they have to give up their original citizenship — could be removed in six months, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday.
The Executive Yuan is talking with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators in an attempt to push through an amendment to the Nationality Act (國籍法) within that time frame, Jiang said.
Jiang made the remarks when he sat down with Academia Sinica to discuss its policy recommendations on the second day of the 31st Convocation of Academicians at the nation’s highest academic institution.
Academia Sinica vice president Wang Fan-sen (王汎森) hailed the promise, saying that removing the prerequisite for naturalization would be vital for Academia Sinica and tertiary education’s ability to retain foreign talent.
The amendment stipulates that foreign nationals would be granted ROC nationality without having to give up their former nationality if a designated commission recognizes the contribution they have made to Taiwan.
Under the current rules, foreign nationals retiring from Academia Sinica, colleges and universities, or other public academic institutions can only have their pension paid in a lump sum rather than in monthly installments if they are not naturalized ROC citizens.
“A foreign researcher in Taiwan earns only a third or a quarter of what they could have earned in Hong Kong or Singapore. It’s unfair to ask them to give up their nationality to qualify for a monthly pension,” Wang said.
Wang called for a speedy review of the amendment.
“A distinguished researcher from the US at Academica Sinica’s Institute of Modern History recently decided to return to the University of Connecticut after waiting so long to apply for naturalization in Taiwan. If naturalization rules remain unchanged, cases like this will keep happening,” Wang said.

But they said this in the past and nothing happened, so fingers crossed and nobody else has too be stateless for at least a year.
July 17, 2014    tedknoy@
curtisakbar@ wrote:
What has been seen as a main obstacle for foreign nationals seeking to become Republic of China citizens — that they have to give up their original citizenship — could be removed in six months, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday.
The Executive Yuan is talking with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators in an attempt to push through an amendment to the Nationality Act (國籍法) within that time frame, Jiang said.
Jiang made the remarks when he sat down with Academia Sinica to discuss its policy recommendations on the second day of the 31st Convocation of Academicians at the nation’s highest academic institution.
Academia Sinica vice president Wang Fan-sen (王汎森) hailed the promise, saying that removing the prerequisite for naturalization would be vital for Academia Sinica and tertiary education’s ability to retain foreign talent.
The amendment stipulates that foreign nationals would be granted ROC nationality without having to give up their former nationality if a designated commission recognizes the contribution they have made to Taiwan.
Under the current rules, foreign nationals retiring from Academia Sinica, colleges and universities, or other public academic institutions can only have their pension paid in a lump sum rather than in monthly installments if they are not naturalized ROC citizens.
“A foreign researcher in Taiwan earns only a third or a quarter of what they could have earned in Hong Kong or Singapore. It’s unfair to ask them to give up their nationality to qualify for a monthly pension,” Wang said.
Wang called for a speedy review of the amendment.
“A distinguished researcher from the US at Academica Sinica’s Institute of Modern History recently decided to return to the University of Connecticut after waiting so long to apply for naturalization in Taiwan. If naturalization rules remain unchanged, cases like this will keep happening,” Wang said.

But they said this in the past and nothing happened, so fingers crossed and nobody else has too be stateless for at least a year.
Curtis,
If this does happen in six months, that will be amazing. I heard about the original story of an American who had been here for 50 years trying to apply for dual nationality and then being denied. This is exciting news. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. Having lived here for 25 years, I will try to get more details on what needs to be done to apply. Thanks again.
August 2, 2016    George@
What about those of us that want to obtain citizenship but are more "ordinary"? It looks like the amendment is only for those that they deem to have done extraordinary things for Taiwan. Still unfair in my opinion.
August 9, 2016    justsaying@
An issue in Taiwan is house ownership where Taiwan nationals enjoy deduction on house and land tax but foreigners are not eligible for this.
Foreigners can not apply a household registration book. The only way is being married to a Taiwan national and register the house on her/his name and who has such book (where normally the foreigner is added to the spouses record in the "remark" column). This is an unfair tax ruling. Besides this,the application process for house registration for foreigners takes multiple times longer than for Taiwan and requires a significant amount of paperwork and this is quite cumbersome.
December 14, 2016    majorgeneralsmedleybutler@
Start small be proactive and set the standard for simplified streamlined systems and equality- fix something easy like drivers licenses. Taiwan can ditch the silly legacy system of IDL/IDP english translation that must be obtained from private entities like AAA insurance. Just adopt a system like almighty California's that lets you use your home country drivers license from anywhere upon arrival. So people can immediately get busy living, working, shopping, and maximizing their economic contribution!
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