Take the Initiative to Create New Niches in Kaohsiung
The 21st century is an era of globalization, in which the competitiveness of individual cities has gradually evolved into regional integration. There are some facts we can no longer ignore: Asia is playing a bigger role in the world economy and cities in Mainland China grow prosperous rapidly. As such, international affairs and relations across the Taiwan strait are issues that cannot be ignored when addressing the economic development of Kaohsiung City. In seeking to boost competitiveness we absolutely must take the initiative and put aside political and ideological considerations.
Despite the fact that Kaohsiung City government has invested a great deal in urban infrastructure and renewal, there has been an undeniable fall off in economic development and unemployment has remained consistently high. Not only is there no sign of recovery, the fiscal deficit continues to increase -- it now amounts to an average of NT$179,240 per citizen. In light of these developments the industrial and economy policies of Kaohsiung City need to be adjusted if they are to reap maximum benefits for Kaohsiung residents.
Cities compete against each other just like companies or industries. However, in recent years competitive advantage has migrated from such strengths as population, geographic location and natural resources to more innovative advantages including the development of high-end services, highly skilled workforce and superior living environments.
Sadly we find ourselves asking what exactly the City Government has done to benefit local industries? The City Council has visited various cities – including Incheon in South Korea and Shanghai in China -- over the last few months, proactively promoting intercity exchange in an attempt to promote economic, cultural and industrial cooperation.
Our future vision of a Greater Kaohsiung focuses on innovative industries such as high technology, green power and yacht manufacturing. However, this very much depends on whether Kaohsiung City is able to successfully integrate its various roles as an Asia-Pacific regional operations center, a marine and aviation trade city and an innovative technology research and development industrial park. Planning needs to leverage regional competitiveness as part of a global vision to enhance competitiveness based on regional cooperation.
Cities in Taiwan compete with cities around the world not just Mainland China. Today, as we look for ways to resuscitate the economy of Kaohsiung City, it is time to go beyond outdated view of cross-strait relations and step up efforts to secure cooperative opportunities and new business niches in China.