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Promoting Taipei's Competitiveness for the Next 100 Years

In this competitive era, surveys of competitiveness abound. Whether they focus on cities in Greater Taiwan, including the islands of Penghu, Jinmen, and Mazu, or on cities of the four distinct regions around the Taiwan Strait, on all Asian cities, or even on cities worldwide, Taipei is without fail ranked near the top on a wide variety of criteria. One such survey, “Degrees of Satisfaction with Administrative Capability of the 25 Cities and Counties of Taiwan”, conducted by CommonWealth magazine (天下雜誌) in November 2005, focused on how satisfied residents were with the efficiency of local civil servants. Taipei was ranked No.1 by 67.82% of those surveyed. Also in 2005, Global Views magazine (遠見雜誌) published “A Review of the Administrative Efficiency of Twenty-three Counties and Cities”; the review showed that Taipei citizens' sense of pride in their city had increased from 44.6% in 1997 to 73.1% in 2005.

Certainly, those guiding a city's development should not base their decisions solely on surveys and statistics. Giving these too much weight, one resembles a student who focuses too much on his exams, and loses sight of the real goals of education.

In 2005, amidst the clamor of much fierce competition, Taipei started to quietly develop the idea of an “invisible city”.

Four years after its founding, the Neihu Technology Park generated US$46.2 billion in annual revenue, surpassing the revenues of the Hsinchu Science Park, the Tainan Science Park, and the Taichung Science Park, combined. This revenue, together with the Nangang Software Park's operation at 99% capacity, ensures the success of the Taipei Technology Corridor, which will fuse the IT, Software, and Biotechnology industries and link together Neihu, Nangang, Shilin, Beitou and even Xizhi in a great web. Taipei is poised to become the Silicon Valley of Asia.

Taipei also has the advantages of a dense population and a highly developed information technology After two years of planning and hard work, WIFLY, Taipei's wireless broadband network,came online in July 2006, and Taipei has been certified as the largest metropolitan area in the world to boast such a system. By enabling wireless medical service, remote monitoring and positioning, and immediate access to visual information, the Internet promotes the efficiency of civil servants, improves the business environment, and makes the lives of our citizens safer, more comfortable, and more convenient. One may think of Taipei's broadband Internet access infrastructure as a rapid transit system for information, by which the city becomes both more closely-knit and more humane.

In the face of global competition, it has become vital for different regions to work together. “Coordination between Taipei and Keelung in waste disposal” was a starting point for cooperation between Taipei City and Taipei County (which includes Keelung City). In early 2006, the eight counties and cities of northern Taiwan signed a broad accord pledging cooperation in recreational activities, traffic and transportation,business development, management of environmental resources, disaster prevention and security, culture and education, health and social welfare, and the affairs of indigenous peoples, Hakka, and new immigrants.By transcending the boundaries of administrative districts, we can improve the lives of the more than 10,450,000 people who live in this area of 9,000 square kilometers, and make Taipei and the whole of northern Taiwan a major force in global competition.

In the fall semester of 2005, Taipei's schools began promoting arts and music education through a project called “Rooting Art in Education”. Henceforth each year all grade-school students, beginning from the third grade, will take fine arts courses like “Discovering the classics of Fine Arts”, “Introduction to the Symphony Orchestra”, “Introduction to Traditional Music”, “First Experience of the Stage”, and “Basics of Historic Landmarks”. These classes will nurture interaction with the arts and with music and develop children's aesthetic sensibilities. If our children-tomorrow's leaders - cultivate a taste for music and the arts, how much more beautiful might Taipei one day be?

History has raised-and razed-many a city. Founded 122 years ago, Taipei won its greatness through the tireless labor of many worthy individuals. Their works have, with time's passage, made the city what it is today. Now, at the outset of the 21st century, the Internet and advances in ICT speed up time's effects by a actor of ten. Though none knows what the future holds, we have laid the foundations for greatness by our accomplishments in four areas: promotion of technology and information system development, deployment of a broadband Internet infrastructure, coordination of district resources, and cultivation of the arts. By these Taipei will surely keep-and better-its position in a world of drastic change. The next generation's citizens will inherit a city ascendent, and I trust that they will record Taipei's future development and their own brilliant history with felicity and grace.

Ying-jeou MaYing-jeou Ma, S.J.D.
July 2006