Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Government policies that make being a foreign resident in Taiwan incredibly frustrating

OK, so this is my second blog post in a row "complaining" about some aspect of Taiwan. And that's OK. Reading my previous posts should prove that I do love this country. The positives have outweighed the negatives so far.

However, I must repost this comment from because it expresses so well the frustration of living in, and contributing to, a country whose current policies will never let you forget that you can never truly "be one of us."

The original post was by a guy considering moving to Taiwan who had asked some questions about working and living here. The responses were generally truthful and balanced, so of course some negative aspects were presented.

The original poster then commented:

I just feel as if Taiwan has given expats a pretty decent opportunity to come and teach English and be paid more than most local citizens but yet many posters still feel it necessary to put others and the country down. I don't doubt that many (if not all) of you are incredibly educated and gifted, but at the same time the same could be said of the many local Taiwanese population who aren't afforded the same opportunity. What do you want the country to provide you? I think it's given you what it can, given that the country is not very wealthy. But, of course, I am outsider looking in, so maybe I really don't know the whole story. I'm all ears if you guys have additional points to make.

The excellent response, which is assuredly eye-opening  for those who don't live in Taiwan, is below:

Ok. I rarely post here because I really don't like getting into arguments with people online, but you seriously have no idea what you are talking about, and I take great offense to the fact that you think foreigners have it so easy in Taiwan.

Building a life in Taiwan is incredibly difficult if you don't have a Taiwanese spouse. Incredibly.

Want a cell phone? Sure, pay a foreigner deposit. Oh, you've lived in the country for a decade and have permanent residency here? Too bad, we still don't trust you and think you will run away without paying.

Want a credit card? Sorry, you have to have a Taiwanese cosigner. You make more than double the average annual wage, have worked at the same company for five years, can verify that you get paid regularly? Too bad, we still don't trust you.

Having your baby here? Well, even though she'll be born in this country, she won't be eligible for NHI [National Health Insurance] until she's been here for 6 months. All other Taiwanese children are covered from birth, but your baby is different, even though you've been paying your NHI premiums for almost a decade, and you pay more than the average citizen because you make more money. But your baby doesn't have Chinese blood.

Have a foreign spouse? That's nice. You can add him/her to your APRC [Alien Permanent Resident Certificate], but your spouse can't work. He/She needs sponsorship from an employer. Forget about the fact that almost every other country in the world extends permanent residency to the spouse and children of permanent residents. This country provides for us so well that we don't need that, right?

Don't even get me started on the fact that my child could potentially spend her entire life here, after being born here, and won't be able to work after graduating from a Taiwanese university unless she gets work sponsorship. More fairness?

Like to pay taxes? Good. Because for the first six months of every year, you're going to be taxed as a non-resident at 18%. Yes, we know your ID says that you are a permanent resident, but you might leave the country before the 183 day mark, and we'd like to keep that money. It doesn't matter that you live here just as permanently as any Taiwanese citizen, you're different.

Retirement? Hope you're saving. You see, there's a pension system in Taiwan, but you're not allowed in it. We could live and work here for 50 years, and we'll never be a part of it. Places like Japan and Australia put all workers, even temporary ones, into the pension system, but not Taiwan. We're not really like regular people, so we don't need to be included in things, right? Right.

For the record, I have no problems with Taiwan or the people here. I have problems with the government's policies, and the way "foreigners" are allowed to be treated differently no matter how long they've lived here or what their residency status is.

To say that we're ungrateful is incredibly rude and unhelpful to what some of us are fighting for on a daily basis - equality. I understand why you might find posts related to dating and whatever offensive, but to take those comments and then twist it around to say that we are all so lucky to be given the chance to live here and shouldn't say anything bad about the place is extremely rude and insensitive.

here are just so many times you can hear that you can't have/do something because you're a "waiguoren" [foreigner] before you realize that no matter how long you live in this place, you'll always be an outsider. A Taiwanese child could be born in America and would be considered an American. An American child born in Taiwan will always be a "waiguoren" and that's the truth, and the problem.

So, yeah. People like to come here and complain about stuff. So what? Let them. That is what this site is for. They have to deal with tough stuff all day, every day. This is a place for them to vent. Life here can be harder for expats than most people realize.

The original post is here:


Joslyn said...

Wow!! That guy nailed it!

Geert Anthonis said...

That guy is wrong is so many places. OK the facts may be right to some extend but I have been here 20 years and seriously very few people treat me as a foreigner the moment I start to speak Chinese. The ones treating me as foreigners as almost always people with Chinese roots and KMT affiliations. So the problem is the KMT not Taiwan.
As Westerners we are get treated very well. If you compare that to foreign labourers and domestic workers and caregaivers and I could tell you stories of how they are treated. Slaves would be a better word. Just look at the noise being made about the raising of the minimum wage, holidays and overtime. A lot of people are working feverishly to make sure the foreign workers are not included in any this. If this will really help Taiwanese labourers I doubt very much. Companies will just hire more foreigners.
Getting a APRC these days in Taiwan is a breeze. It may take a bit of effort and preparation and some money but basically I could get my kids, my wife and I are both foreigners, one if I set it up right. And if the law does not change soon we will set it up so that my wife becomes a foreign investor and thus gets an APRC. Yes I own a company, provide work to 11 Taiwanese at the time and all get paid above the Taiwanese for a similar job and still I can not hire my wife to work in my own company. That is strange and annoying.
As for health insurance, labour benifits and pension, I am not sure where he gets his information. I do pay for all of those. My kids did not have to wait 6 but only 4 months to be able to join the NHI. And so what the first 4 months they were covered under that of the mother anyway.

Andrew P said...

Yup. Nailed it.

kbrebes said...

Very eye opening!

Spring Wild said...

If your wife decides she does not want to extend your visa, you have to leave.

Geert Anthonis said...

I have an APRC because I have a company here and my wife is not Taiwanese. At least in this she has no say.