Taipei: A City of Wonders
In November 2010, after four years of planning, the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo officially kicked off. This is an international event of the grandest scale possible, and the highest level of its kind ever held in Taiwan. Both the people on the island, and those from around the world are witnessing how Taipei – a stronghold of high technology and environmental protection initiatives – would pull off this feast of flowers at the Flora Expo.
Thanks to the support of florists, architects, landscapists and cultural creative artists, as well as the people of Taipei, the world is now witnessing the beauty and strengths of Taiwan through this spectacle of cultural creativity, floral art, technological wizardry, and feats of environmentally-forward exhibition initiatives. Dr. Doeke Faber, the president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) praised the Taipei Flora Expo as the best floral expo ever held in the past 15 years, a paragon to be emulated by the expo organizers to come.
During one of my inspection trips to the Floral Expo site, a day of drizzling rain, an elderly lady from southern Taiwan approached me to shake my hand, and said, “Thank you, Mayor, for hosting such a wonderful flora exposition and making the people of Taiwan so proud.” The elderly lady was particularly pleased with the politeness of the many young volunteer workers on the site. Despite the cold and the rain, the young volunteers at the expo went about their work with enthusiasm, taking great pride in what they did. Even though the youths of this generation have been dubbed, the generation of weaklings, but she saw hope on the smiling faces of the youths.
That is the spirit of the Flora Expo, the spirit of Taipei, a city that touches people’s hearts. And our duty is to continue to create fond memories that touch people’s hearts, allowing more of Taipei’s youths to shine and unleash their potentials.
In the past four years, we have worked extremely hard to revamp Taipei into a gateway to the Asia Pacific, and a beacon of urban advancement. Taipei is now rated as one of the top 20 financial capitals in the world. The Economist of London rated the education quality in Taipei with a perfect mark, lauding the city as one of the most advanced internationally. Taipei is also viewed as an advanced “green” capital, the ecologically-friendly policies of which are considered more advanced than those adopted in Tokyo, Seoul, or Hong Kong. The Per Bag Trash Collection Fee Policy is a robust practice that has helped Taipei addressing global warming and decreasing carbon emissions more effectively. These new environmental policies have rendered Taipei one of the most environmentally-forward cities in the world.
Four years ago, I made a promise to revive the Danshui River. Many people said it was not possible: Danshui River, of all things, has been heavily polluted for an extended period of time. But now, the water quality of Danshui River is the best it has been for the past thirty years, and condition in the river has improved tremendously, more than any other river management projects has been able deliver in the country. The Danshui River is now home to 89 species of fish, a great increase from the 48 recorded in 2007. This is the result of an effective sewage system, wetland restoration projects, and a robust crackdown of illegal riverside activities in cooperation with the New Taipei City.
However, as an international city, Taipei should not be complacent. New competitions and rivalries are increasingly fierce in the international community, and we are inspired to incentivize more capital, sharpen our technological edge, and continue to nurture and empower new talents to facilitate a constructive environment for international investment. At the moment, we are hard at work to build the Taipei Technology Corridor that promises to have all the incentivization packages and hardware offerings in place to woo international enterprises to headquarter in Taipei, or to set up their RD centers, ensuring Taipei’s competitive edge as a force to be reckoned in the face of increasing global connectivity. The Corridor project is a springboard to Taipei’s “Golden Decade” in becoming even more internationalized.
Taipei City is hard at work to enforce the “Landscape Revolution” and the “Road-smoothing Project,” two highprofile public initiatives so as to improve traveling comfort and convenience for the citizens of Taipei. These projects are highly anticipated by the citizens of Taipei and require further efforts to safeguard Taipei’s status as a metropolis of utmost living quality.
Most importantly, we are renovating Taipei into a dynamic city of potentials and creative energy. The primary goal of the city government for the next four years is to rejuvenate Taipei with three innovative initiatives and youthful input:
The “Have a Care-Free Pregnancy” is a childbirth promotion program designed to ensure various childcare benefits for young parents. The program was implemented in hopes of minimizing the pressure adjunct with the birth of a child. Early-stage care services and educational subsidies are included in this strategic package to ensure that young families living in Taipei are well taken care of. We will look to build a large-scale public housing project to address some of the housing problems in Taipei City, and encourage young people to pursue their dreams, free of worries.
Secondly, we are poised to infuse new youthful energies into Taipei’s public works. We will continue to devise and implement policies to clean up the Danshui River, revitalize riverside areas and develop the Shetze island, reviving the town and the surrounding transport network. In so doing, we hope to bring new life to the western part of the city and transform the old riverside area into an integral part of the greater Taipei metropolis. We will also continue to renovate old apartment buildings so that Taipei’s cityscape becomes all the more modern and appealing.
Finally, we are ready to give the Taipei City Government a facelift. In the past four years, the 1999 citizen hotline was implemented to provide 24-hour real-time assistances to Taipei citizens, with an efficiency that surpassed the same system inaugurated in the New York City. It was recognized with the CRE Awards 2009 . These accolades inspire us to continuously strive for the best. Free wireless internet service coverage in all public areas is being planned, and through the omnipresent internet access, citizens in Taipei will find public services even more readily available, thus facilitating Taipei’s other public works and projects, driving Taipei toward becoming a high-tech stronghold and a wireless city.
We have also constantly strived to upgrade Taipei’s competitiveness so she is on par with other international metropolises, such as Tokyo, Seoul, and Shanghai. This has always been the driver behind the Taipei City Government. Taipei City, as the barometer of progress and prosperity, is the driver that keeps the nation moving forward, and we are ready to make Taipei one of the world’s power movers, inspiring more creativity, opportunities, internationalized initiatives to empower Taipei with a more dynamic edge.
We and the City of Taipei are pressing toward that goal ready to see that happen in the very near future!
Lung-bin Hau, Ph.D Mayor