Taiwan Sets Sail

by Rex How

Rex How’s White Paper for the Next Generation of Youth

A new era in Taiwan has begun.
The results of the 2016 election is just a prelude.
Within ourselves or facing the outside world, we have reached the time for another great voyage.
Bid farewell to the past found in the wind and the waves;
discover the future by piercing through the turbulent seas.

Published in 2015, Taiwan Unbound proposed that the next twenty years will determine Taiwan’s demise or rebirth, garnering much attention and acclaim. A few months after the publication of the book, author Rex How had travelled to various places to talk with readers, and he observed the election campaigns of two new political parties, New Power Party and the Green Party. He interviewed the 28 legislator candidates, further analyzing the issues that Taiwan will face in these first crucial four years of the coming two decades.

How discovered: the core of the 2016 election was actually a dispute between the old and the new generations. In the past, political parties in Taiwan shaped the next generation’s outlook on life and their values. From the 2016 election onwards, the younger generation have instead begun to use their beliefs and values to form political parties and policies, to participate in politics and reform society with their own hands.

He uses a metaphor to explain Taiwan’s current situation.

“A person who grew up on land will be asked to run, to perform high jumps and long jumps, to gradually increase the intensity and run a marathon, then the decathlon, and also learn to throw a shot put. But what happens when, one day, the water level of the ocean rises, and the land disappears. All the skills this person possessed, running, high jumps, marathons—they are all rendered useless. In the sea, not only can he not throw shot puts, but those shot puts he held pride in would cause him to sink straight down.”

How believes that Taiwan must abandon the way of thinking that has been followed by past generations, and officially enter an age of discovery. He says, “Whether politically, economically, internally or externally, we have all arrived at a time where we must brave the storm, with newfound courage, with new visions, in order to create a better future.”

The spirited Rex How laughs and says that psychologically, his age will forever be 18 years old. He says, “This keeps me always curious about the world. I would rather choose cliffs and dangerous trails than safe flat roads, so that I have the opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of leaping, to witness the magnificent scenery that is hard to see from the ground. No matter how violent the winds and snowstorms of reality might be, I can squint my eyes and continue to peer through to the warm light in the distance.”

Taiwan Sets Sail is not only a white paper for the younger generation, but also a call to arms, from fellow teammates to people in varying industries, to welcome this age of discovery and embark on a great voyage together. The journey may be turbulent and rough, but only those brave enough to face the tempest will have the opportunity to walk forwards. As Dickens wrote in David Copperfield, “It is merely crossing. The distance is quite imaginary.” With a smile, How sings a popular Taiwanese song, “Oh~ Keep going forward~”

There is nothing to be afraid of.

The book is divided into three parts: 

Part 1: Don’t Throw Shot Puts in the Sea
The 2016 elections ostensibly showed the result of a Kuomintang defeat and a DPP victory. However, at the crux of this election, there is a conflict between the values of different generations.

Today, Taiwan needs to face two realities. The first is that every facet of the country has accumulated to a critical point, and there is no way to delay the problems like in the past.
The second is that in order to solve the structural dilemma, Taiwan cannot rely on the rotation of political parties alone. We must pay attention to the crises faced by the younger generation, and find solutions from the values of the next generation. If we continue to hold onto the same concepts, way of thinking, and methods that we had taken for granted in the past, we will be attempting to swim in the sea while carrying a shot put in our arms.
Within the context of generational values, Rex How analyzes the reasons for Kuomintang’s defeat and the DPP’s victory, as well as the challenges that Taiwan faces in the future.

Part 2: The Raging Waves
Before the general election, a fierce new political wave arose. Various groups of the younger generation showed that they are eager to try, that they hope to walk from outside the system to the inside, from the streets into Congress. After the election, some of these groups of young people were successful in entering Congress. Although they only have one foot in the door, they are all working hard on their own efforts.
During the election, How conducted in-depth interviews with 28 of the candidates in the two new political parties, New Power Party and the Green Party. After the election, he reviewed the election campaigns of Huang Guochang, Lin Changzuo, Fan Yun, Li Genzheng, Miao Boya, Zeng Baiyu, and others, and considered how to move forwards into the future.
Through interviews with these political participants and his own observations, How uses Ideals—Elections, Social Movements—Political Parties as vertical and horizontal coordinates, drawing a chart of political quadrants to analyze the dynamics of the new political forces in this election, and the reasons for their success or failure. He hopes these interviews and analyses can be used as a reference for future politicians, as well as a reference for citizens to observe politics, interact with and survey the politicians.

Part 3: Storming Winds and Waves
The accumulation of various societal problems in Taiwan forms a dead knot. In addition to the new generation of politicians who wish to make a breakthrough politically, it also requires people from all walks of life to use new perspectives and courage to untie it.
In the third part of the book, How analyzes Taiwan’s external development and several modes of cross-strait interaction, compiling it into a chart to illustrate his concept of “Competition and Cooperation” between the two sides of the strait.
He cites three examples.
Xie Yingjun, who developed special architectural concepts and construction methods for assisting the reconstruction of the 921 disaster area, which Jiang Xun had dubbed “Salvation.” Recently, Xie Yingjun has proven that his concepts and technology can enter the world market, becoming a prime example of the “Competition and Cooperation” model.
While Xie Yingjun is an example of Taiwan moving forwards on the outside, Lin Yiying is an example of Taiwan moving forwards on the inside. An aging society and Taiwan’s insufficient long-term care system causes many people to think that an aging society is very bleak. However, Lin Yiying’s all-in-one business model has subverted this impression. With a new way of thinking, not only can long-term care attract investment from younger generations, but also create 400,000 jobs in the domestic market, forming Taiwan’s soft power that stands out in the international community.

The last example is Rex How himself. He uses his 27 years of experience in continuous exploration of the cross-strait and international markets from 1989 to 2016, as well as the balance he found between professional work and participation in public affairs, to illustrate the opportunities he sees in Taiwan, and the things he knows he has to do.

A new era has arrived. All walks of life will need to set sail.
Are you ready to brave the wild winds, and journey into the ever-shifting sea?

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