North–South divide in Taiwan

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Air quality on 2018/2/10 by PM 2.5 concentration
(Purple color indicates "harmful" air outside、Red color means "unhealthy".)

In Taiwan, the North–South divide(In Chinese: 重北輕南) is also known as North-South imbalance or North-South developmental gap and Stress the North, Ignore the South, as it refers to the uneven distribution of resources in regard to political, wealth, medical, economic development, education and other aspects across the country over past decades that has drawn the social and cultural differences between northern and southern today.[1][2] The core spiritual tenet is derived from Southern Taiwanese's long-standing mindset, as they believe they had been treated and regarded as socially inferior by the Taiwanese central government.[3][4][5][6][1][7] The anger from the south quickly echoed throughout central Taiwan and eastern Taiwan, as they also thought they're not fairly treated by the central government, compared to the northern part of Taiwan.[3][5][6][1][7][4] It was known from history that the Taiwanese central government's policy support for local industrial development as well as public infrastructure is the critical determinant of a local city's future prospects for the resident population.[7]:51[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

According to literature reviews, the benefits of Taiwan's economic development have been largely reaped by the northern part of Taiwan, especially the capital city-Taipei City. The rest of the benefits reaped by regions other than northern Taiwan were not proportional to what they'd sowed. This kind of uneven distribution was particularly noticeable given the mass heavy industrial output by southern Taiwan and their received final budget from the central government.[16] Due to budget shortages, local governments other than those in the northern part of Taiwan generally had no money to run their own businesses to monetize but instead accumulated debts or anticipated extra care from the central government led by Kuomintang (KMT).[17][18]:185[19][20]

The population of the northern part of Taiwan has soared by nearly 4 million over the past few decades. In the meantime, the population of the central part of Taiwan has increased by 1.14 million, and that of the southern part of Taiwan has increased by 0.86 million. The growth tendency is focused on Taipei, and falls off with increasing distance. It's believed this is because of the central government's overall national development plan and national industrial policy.[21]

Over the past seven decades, the KMT has been in power for more than sixty years (1945-2000、2008-2016) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in power for 10 years to date(2000~2008、2016~today). The gap between northern parts of Taiwan and the southern part of Taiwan in education, income, economy, culture, medicine and other areas is on account of the KMT party's North-South bias policy.[7][22][5]:85–86[6][1][23]:257[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33]

The North–South divide in Taiwan explains a series of controversies caused in today's Taiwan, which have involved disagreements between migrant populations from China before and after 1949 on national identity, the long-term blatant racial discrimination by KMT government against the aboriginal inhabitants who lived in Taiwan before 1949, policies imposed after 1949 that devalued aboriginals' life and achievements, the deprecation of aboriginals by the 1949 migrant population, and the KMT-led central government's uneven government resources distribution, industrial policies and budget laws in favor of the regions that absorbed a relatively high portion of those new migrants, and the ensuing social economic disparity. Consequently, the most deprived areas in today's Taiwan are hit hardest by globalization together with pollution.[7]:v[30][26][27][28][29]

History origin/Historical evolution[edit]

Depending on the research, the "North-South divide" is composed of two theories and backed by two forces., i.e the North-South bias theory derived from civilians' mindset of feeling neglected and the theorem of the North-South difference originating from the KMT politicians who intended to distinguish those who retreated to Taiwan with KMT since 1949, from the voters.[7]

KMT fled to Taiwan at the end stage of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and re-located in Taipei. In the following decades, KMT invested most of the resources taken from the mainland as well as collected taxes in public infrastructure, education institutes, scientific research centers, government institutions, high value-added industrial zones for Taipei and its satellite cities and suburbs in addition to KMT's North-South bias policy. At this point, northern Taiwan started to grow rapidly at a speed never seen before. The government expenditure lavished on Taipei was in sharp contrast to that allocated to southern Taiwan. The gap between the two sides in all kinds of infrastructures has widened significantly since then. Besides, KMT's economic policy of establishing industries of commercial activity, trade, new generation high-value-added technology industries together in northern Taiwan while arranging southern Taiwan to develop light industry, heavy industry, and labor-intensive industry amplified the north-south divide, and southern Taiwan encountered difficulties when Taiwan had no choice to transform its economic structure towards higher-value-added industries in order to compensate the rising unemployment rate caused by the tide of globalization that forces those labor-intensive and low value-added industries to move to low wage countries like China and Southeast Asia.[22]

Consequently, during the time KMT has been in power, the number of registered companies in the North continued to rise, ripen and strengthen. In contrast, southern Taiwan kept experiencing speedy deterioration.[22] This is the reason why northern Taiwan today is the center of Taiwan's economy and the leading high-tech concentrated area featuring dynamic businesses, tertiary sectors in addition to quaternary sector, information services, and quinary sectors.[22] On the other hand, southern Taiwan is still home to Taiwan's primary sector and secondary sector.[22]

Taipei[edit]

North-South bias was used to describe southern Taiwanese people's feeling. The far-off reason is that Taipei started to grab leaders' attention through producing a large amount of profitable tea and camphor in Qing dynasty. In 1874, Japanese invaded Taiwan for the first time. Subsequently, leaders began to consider Taipei very important and established many government institutions. Subsequent to Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Japanese government located the ruling base in Taipei given Taipei had plenty of government institutions to take over, and its location that was closer to Japan than that of any other major city in Taiwan, making it easier to serve the Japanese; Taipei was the easiest place to conquer in Taiwan followed by the rest in northern Taiwan,[7]:36 unlike other regions of Taiwan that required Japanese soldiers to exert a great deal of forces for half a year to conquer, which some scholars from the south speculate led to the difference between the north and the south in culture and the way of thinking - they thought northern Taiwan was more often than not occupied and ruled by an external race which then spread its language and culture to northern Taiwan. Some scholars thus believed themselves pure Taiwanese.[34]) During Japanese rule, the Japanese intentionally made use of the most recent ideas and methods to build Taipei, and Taipei was thus getting to be a city on the cutting edge of modern technology, leading Taiwan's politics and economy.[7]

Even so, the job vacancies in Taiwan were fairly distributed in that time rather than gathering only in northern Taiwan under KMT's rule. Constant even distribution of jobs during Japanese rule effectively balanced residents' moving trends, local business opportunities, local consumer market magnitude, and people's costs in looking for jobs.[35]

A concomitant cause is that about two million mainlanders moved with the KMT to Taiwan after the defeat of the KMT in the battle. Most of them settled in northern Taiwan, particularly Taipei City. (People migrating from China to Taiwan after 1949 were called Mainlanders. By the time, mainlanders accounted for 15-20% of the total number of people living in Taiwan.[36] Most of them decided to settle in the urban areas of Taiwan.) As of 1995, one in four mainlanders on average lives in Taipei city. Over 40% of Taipei city citizens are mainlanders. Taipei is the destination for most mainlanders, making it the city eith the highest proportion of mainlanders compared to any other cities or counties in Taiwan.[37][38][34][34]And since 1967, Taipei was promoted to a Special Municipality, and huge financial advantages came along with the promotion compared to other places in Taiwan.[39] Noticeably, two of the reasons that led to KMT to promote Taipei City was that Taipei City mayors had always been elected by those not affiliated with KMT. The other key reason was that the central government would be able to bypass the provincial government to directly gain the taxes collected by Taipei.[7]:58[25][7][26][27][28][29]

Economy and finance[edit]

Taipei had not only enjoyed the highest city status across Taiwan on par with Taiwan Provincial Government by that time but also acquired a huge budgetary expansion since it was promoted to a Special municipality in 1967. Afterwards, it became the wealthiest administrative region in Taiwan. The promotion reversed its long-running financial difficulties. At the end of the fiscal years after the promotion, the budget that was received from the central government minus the costs of city affairs turned out to be positive. Because of《Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures》, Taipei City's government could reserve much more collected taxes to use on itself without the need to submit to the central government. Taipei thus shifted to the administrative region with the best financial reports. In the meantime, other administrative regions still suffered financial problems every year and struggled to fund local construction and execute policies that would facilitate local prosperity.[7]:58–59

Taipei depends on its advantages of hosting both the central government and the provincial government in addition to the rapid rise of the annual budget, Taipei began to be able to fund a variety of projects to enhance economic/future prosperity.[7]:58–59

In the following years, Taiwan reaped the fruits of its export-oriented economy. The central government started to use the gained revenue to directly fund a lot of infrastructures ranging from environmental remediation, illegal buildings removal, green constructions of park, urban park, national park, garden, and grassland, and construction of new roads, expressways, state-run television corporations, trading centers, national libraries, museums, Mass Rapid Transit, headquarters for nationally-owned enterprises in charge of electricity, water supply, petroleum, expansions of roads in downtown Taipei and throughout northern Taiwan, government support for start-ups of new sectors, industrial parks included but not limited to Nankang Software Park and so on.[7] The business boost effect accompanied by the rise of Taipei radiated to the nearby New Taipei City, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, and the northern Miaoli County.

Statistics since 1980 found that nearly half of the total government expenditure was spent on northern Taiwan's economic development, transportation, etc. Such long-term statistics reflected the fact that the central government's extensive bias made the gap between the north and south pivots even wider. Plenty of fruits of decades of Taiwan's economic development and labor achievements have been inversely proportionally reaped by northern Taiwan alone.[7][40][7]:24[40][7]

Taipei, the core of northern Taiwan, finally became the center of politics, economy, finance, culture, media, education, research in Taiwan.[7]:24 As Hsinchu becomes the hi-tech center of Taiwan.[41]

Kaohsiung[edit]

Taiwan local regions' share of transportation investment from the central government since 1945 till 1994 [42]
Period Region Share ratio
1945-1994[note 1] Northern Taiwan
1945-1994 Central Taiwan
1945-1994 Southern Taiwan
1945-1994 Eastern Taiwan(Taitung in particular.)

Kaohsiung/formosa incident[edit]

The central government has invested all of the money in northern Taiwan, including its technology budget and economic development budget. Everything is in northern Taiwan. Not to mention, all of the policy makers also live in northern Taiwan. In these politicians' eyes, southern Taiwan doesn't even exist! [7]:85

Ding-Peng Liung (Professor of business administration in NSYSU), 《Space》1995/11

Studies suggest that Kaohsiung, which is home to most of the heavy industry that fueled Taiwan's economic miracle, was also at the forefront of Taiwanese political liberalization activities from the 1970s onwards. Such activity includes the Kaohsiung Incident, which pushed Taiwan towards democracy, which, studies also suggest, led to the Kuomintang government's decision to reduce southern Taiwan's economic development aid, as it regarded the protests in southern Taiwan as posing a great threat to its authoritarian rule. The KMT didn't admit to or respond to such revelations.[43][44][24] This expounds on why most Taiwanese are bound for the south and leaving northern Taiwan leads to traffic jams on the south-bound expressways when holidays or vacations are around the corner. This is because those citizens are not born and raised in northern Taiwan. They would like to go back to their hometown to reunite with their family during vacations.[43][44][45][24][46][47][48][49] As time comes to end the vacations or holidays, the traffic jams ensnare north-bound passengers.[24]

Higher education and economic structure transformation[edit]

The general public in southern Taiwan keeps talking about the north-south divide in the aftermath of Taiwan's sector pattern transformation from labor-intensive sectors to high-tech sectors, which nowadays is focused in northern Taiwan owing to the central government's policies decades ago.[7]

The aftermath has stretched long because it's still too difficult for people in southern Taiwan to find an adequate job within a decent range from their hometown. [7] The occurrence of the central government's north-south bias policy has been fueled by the accumulation of relative deprivation in the minds of southern Taiwanese [7]:87–88 because they've found it truly matched their real-life experience.[51]

Higher education and emerging sectors[edit]

In response to Taiwan's economic transformation from low-labor industries to high-end industries, KMT has approved five of six science parks marked in blue 30-40 years ago beginning from 2019. The remaining science parks were established pretty late in time.[52][53]

In the first three decades since KMT's takeover of Taiwan, the most competitive sectors among the global value chain in Taiwan were low-skilled, labor-intensive sectors. KMT then issued the export-oriented economic policy as well as Ten Major Construction Projects in response and built several processing export zones in Taichung and Kaohsiung together with major heavy industrial zones around Kaohsiung, respectively, which somewhat balanced the job demand distribution around Taiwan. [note 2][35]

During the end of the 1970s, Taiwan encountered a series of tough situations such as when the U.S. decided to suspend diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 and establish formal diplomatic relations with China instead[note 3], 1979 oil crisis, Chiang Kai-shek's decision to quit the membership at the United Nation[54][note 4]. The accompanying shocks thereof started to take effect in the early 1980s. Moreover, KMT's authoritarian ruling style was subject to scrutiny through Kaohsiung-based campaigns including the Kaohsiung Incident launched by DPP members calling for the central government to commit itself to political reform and democracy, and the increasing of Taiwanese average wages. Taiwan's advantages of low-wage, low-skill-demand sectors continued to lose competitiveness compared to other developing nations, gradually resulting in bankruptcy.[35][44][24][43]

Against such a background, KMT dealt by revising the economic policy to transform Taiwan's economic structure from labor-intensive sectors to capital-intensive sectors.

Effects[edit]

As time goes by, under the effect of globalization, those process-export sectors originally settled in Taiwan started leaving for mainland China and south-east Asian countries.[35][3][18] In the meantime, the tide of globalization not only hit central and southern Taiwan's economy but also shook the economy of northern Taiwan. Nevertheless, because of KMT's preferential policy support by introducing newly-emerging higher-value-added sectors, such as semiconductors, and providing the targeted emerging sectors with tax cuts, technical support, and other measures, the economy of northern Taipei soon recovered from the chaos and grew faster than ever, thereby rendering the region a beneficiary of globalization.[35][3][18]

Separated families[edit]

The adverse outcomes of the KMT-led central government's bias policy have caused hundreds of thousands of young adults to take leave of their hometowns and family and travel to northern Taiwan to seek work. And because the south is generally not as wealthy as the north, the prices paid for a family reunion in hometowns have emerged to be a burden for them, which in turn reduces their chances to see each other. They have been forced to live apart as an aftermath of the long-term bias policies, generating an accumulation of nostalgia as well as homesickness in their minds.[56][57][58][59]

Although sophisticated internet technologies have made communication easier than ever, those young workers often lie to their loved ones in the prevention of causing worries to the people they care for. Nevertheless, their loved ones actually know their kids just pretend to be strong on the computer screen. Only seeing is believing.[59][56]

Differences[edit]

Political alignment[edit]

2012 presidential election results
  Kuomintang candidate

Traditionally, southwestern voters have favored pan-green parties such as the Democratic Progressive Party while northern voters prefer pan-blue ones such as Kuomintang.

Productivity[edit]

Northern Taiwan has higher economic output than the south. In 2016, all northern cities and counties had a above-median per capita GDP.

List of cities and counties in Republic of China (Taiwan) by GDP per capita in 2016[60]
Rank cities NTD US$ PPP Region
1 Taipei 990,292 30,699 65,539 Northern Taiwan
2 Hsinchu City 853,089 26,446 56,459 Northern Taiwan
- Taipei-Keelung metropolitan area 830,788 25,754 54,982 Northern Taiwan
- Taipei-Keelung-Taoyuan metropolitan area 807,860 25,044 53,465 Northern Taiwan
3 Lianjiang County 776,615 24,075 51,397 Outlying islands
4 New Taipei 733,776 22,747 48,562 Northern Taiwan
5 Taoyuan 731,518 22,677 48,413 Northern Taiwan
- Taiwan 727,098 22,540 48,120
6 Taichung 724,905 22,472 47,975 Central Taiwan
7 Hsinchu County 724,840 22,470 47,971 Northern Taiwan
8 Penghu County 709,066 21,981 46,927 Outlying islands
9 Chiayi City 709,033 21,980 46,925 Southern Taiwan
10 Keelung 706,808 21,911 46,777 Northern Taiwan
11 Yilan County 700,034 21,701 46,329 Northern Taiwan
12 Hualien County 693,292 21,492 45,883 Eastern Taiwan
13 Kaohsiung 684,260 21,212 45,285 Southern Taiwan
14 Kinmen County 668,582 20,726 44,248 Outlying islands
15 Miaoli County 657,292 20,376 43,500 Central Taiwan
16 Tainan 643,743 19,956 42,604 Southern Taiwan
- Central Taiwan excluding Yunlin County 642,485 19,922 41,836
- Southern Taiwan 638,208 19,789 41,556
- Central Taiwan 635,518 19,706 41,382
17 Taitung County 623,485 19,328 41,263 Eastern Taiwan
18 Changhua County 618,969 19,188 40,964 Central Taiwan
19 Yunlin County 607,776 18,841 40,223 Central Taiwan
20 Pingtung County 592,066 18,354 39,184 Southern Taiwan
21 Nantou County 569,453 17,653 37,687 Central Taiwan
22 Chiayi County 562,743 17,445 37,243 Southern Taiwan

Population[edit]

Population growth in the north has been significantly higher than that in the south.

[21]

Causes[edit]

The divide has often been attributed to government bias. Following the Kuomintang's defeat by the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War and the Nationalist's subsequent flight from the Chinese mainland, the Kuomintang relocated its headquarters to Taipei in the north of Taiwan.[61][62][63]

Since the Nationalist government's retreat to Taiwan in 1949, the Kuomintang has held power for more than 60 years non-consecutively (1949-2000, 2008-2016), compared to the Democratic Progressive Party's 10 years (2000-2008, 2016-now). Owing to the Kuomintang's long-standing bias, especially over the White Terror period, the gap between the north and the south in terms of social economic development has gradually widened. Critics say that Northern Taiwan to which mainlanders fleeing after the defeat of the KMT on the Mainland had mainly relocated had a disproportionate share of economic investment, especially since the Pro-Independence movement was less common in the North than in the South. The KMT was alleged to have concentrated investment in technological fields in its base in Northern Taiwan, especially the Hsinchu and the Greater Taipei Metropolis area while investment in the South of Taiwan was mainly in industry. As industry relocated to Mainland China over the past decades leading to slower growth in Southern Taiwan, there has been a brain drain of younger college educated Taiwanese from the South to the North where higher paying service and technology industries are located.[64]

Over the period 1990-1998, Mayor of Kaohsiung Wu Den-yih frequently criticized the KMT-led central government for its bias in favor of the north and against the south.[65]

An article published in a demographic & land economics journal by National Chengchi University suggested that the rising housing prices in northern Taiwan were simply a result of the central government's bias towards northern Taiwan because it implemented an array of projects that created a lot of position vacancies in the north areas the treatment of which is in a sharp contrast to central and southern Taiwan.[66][67] This has led people to pursue real estate in an area the land supply of which is limited owing to geographic reasons, as there is more mountain, high land, and Table (landform) than plain in the northern part of Taiwan.[67][66]:52

Studies also suggested that Kaohsiung, which is home to most of the heavy industry that fueled Taiwan's economic miracle, was also at the forefront of Taiwanese political liberalization activities from the 1970s onwards. Such activity includes the Kaohsiung Incident, which pushed Taiwan towards democracy, which some speculate lead to the Kuomintang government's decision to reduce southern Taiwan's economic development aid, as it regarded the protests in southern Taiwan as posing a great threat to its authoritarian rule.[43][44][24]

Note[edit]

  1. ^ Taiwan has been taken over by KMT since 1945.
  2. ^ Refer to Taiwan pollution
  3. ^ Refer to Taiwan relation act
  4. ^ See United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 for further in-depth info.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  42. ^ 姜渝生、王小娥 (2011-01-28). "An Empirical Analysis of the Regional Distributional Weights for Allocating Transportation Investment Funds in Taiwan. 台灣地區重大交通建設區域分配權重之實證分析". 國立成功大學機構典藏 (in Chinese). Retrieved 2019-03-09. The variance of benefit estimates was also calculated using the KR method. The benefit estimates were then allocated to four regions, namely, North, Central, South, and East. With the decision indicators of one for accepted and zero for rejected for each project, the estimated regional weights indicated the revealed preferences of the decision maker. For the projects in the past, the regional weights were estimated to be 1, 0.48, 0.26, 0.08, indicating that the North Region was significantly more preferred to other regions. For the ongoing and future projects, the regional weights were estimated to be 1, 0.73, 0.56, 0.0, indicating that the inequality between North-South Regions has been reduced. However, the difference between the Eastern-Western corridors is becoming significant.
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  59. ^ a b CTi News. "【精彩】韓國瑜鳳山造勢‧全民開講(二) 陳媽媽淚灑現場:讓北漂孩子回來 救救自己的父母" [Han Guo-Yu's campaign II] (in Chinese). 我這一路走來真的很辛苦,我要看我的兒子,我還要跑很遠 (哽咽),我兒子要回來也要跑很遠回來。可是南部的經濟...
  60. ^ According to [1] Archived 2017-11-09 at the Wayback Machine (IMF-WEO April 2017), PPP rate is NTD 15.11 per Int'l.dollar; according to the [2] Archived 2017-11-23 at the Wayback Machine, the average exchange rate is NTD 32.258135 per US dollar (the average exchange rate of the year was 32.258135 NTD to 1 USD); GDP per capita figures in USD are retrieved from [3] Archived 2018-02-21 at the Wayback Machine and are published by National Statistics of Republic of China (Taiwan)[4] Archived 2017-10-30 at the Wayback Machine.
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  67. ^ a b "地政學訊". 國立政治大學 (in Chinese). 2014-01-11. Archived from the original on 2017-12-17. Retrieved 2017-12-17. ......然南北城鄉的租稅負擔更隱含租稅之不公平。舉例而言,根據本年 7、8 月份屏東市、台北市及高雄市於內政部房屋實價登錄網站資料,相同樓高及類似區段的大樓產品,成交總價分別為 320 萬元、3,100萬元及 512 萬元,平均單價則分別為每坪 58,000 元、708,000 元及 134,000元,如以房屋稅占分算房屋賣價之租稅負擔率分別為 0.39%、0.35%及0.31%,看似負擔率相當,但加計該負擔之地價稅後,情形便大不相同,租稅負擔率分別為 0.29%、005%及0.17%,顯示屏東縣民同樣擁有大樓房屋之租稅負擔率竟高於台北市或高雄市居民 6 倍及 2 倍,此種扭曲的不公平稅制實有違量能課稅之基本財稅理論,也是財政當局尤應正視之處。造成北部房價高漲原因,不外乎政府長期重北輕南之經濟政策,人口高度集中都會區,南部鮮少重大建設提供就業機會,自然使得多數人去競逐供給有限的不動產,尤其土地資源不可增加及不能挪移的特性,更推波助瀾這股沛然莫之能禦的漲勢。