asiamagazine 2009 NO 13 A MAGAZINE by Chalmers students in Asia
Tokyo Breeds So you came here to study? An exploding market
NOt a walk in the park
asiamagazine WHAT IS CHALMERS ASIA? Chalmers Asia opened in March 2003 as a result of the bilateral exchange agreement between National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) and Chalmers University of Technology. The Chalmers Asia office is strategically located at NCTU, near Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park. PURPOSE - Increase awareness at Chalmers about the development in East Asia, with focus on Taiwan. - Support mobility of students and staff between NCTU and Chalmers. - Enhance Chalmersâ€™ visibility in Taiwan and the neighbouring region. THE CHALMERS ASIA MAGAZINE The purpose of this publication is to increase the awareness of Asia among the students and the staff of Chalmers. The articles are written by the Chalmers exchange students in Asia. Editor ANDERS TWETMAN
firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director KARL-JOHAN SELLBERG
email@example.com CONTACT ADRESS Chalmers Asia, National Chiao Tung University, 1001 Ta-Hsueh Rd., Hsinchu 30010, Taiwan, R.O.C. web www.asia.chalmers.se phone +886 (0)3 573 73 69 +46 (0)31 780 41 55 fax +886 (0)3 573 74 69
2 Letter from head of office
4 TOKYO BREEDS
14 HONG KONG
3 office representatives
6 YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
20 AN EXPLODING MARKET
32 ASIA APPLY
8 HONG KONG THEN AND NOW
22 HSR - A CONVENIENT WAY TO TRAVEL
10 SO YOU CAME HERE TO STUDY? 12 PROGRESS IN CONFLICT 13 ASIA´S PODIUM IN THE ANTI- AGING MARKET
24 TOURISM VS. POVERTY 26 SINGAPORE - THE “DIET” VERSION OF ASIA 29 NOT A WALK IN THE PARK
6 “THE BEST AND WORST THING ABOUT JAPAN IS THE POPULATION”
Photo: Karl-Johan Sellberg
It is spring and one more year is coming
Johan Svennung - Head of Office
to a close for the Chalmers Asia students
at NCTU. We have held a number of
Administration and Electrical Engineering at NCTU. Similar
activities of different nature, such as
background at Chalmers University of Technology.
Easter celebrations – dressing up as witches, painting eggs in bright colors
Jesper Nilsson - Deputy Head of Office
and eating candy – movie nights and we
Graduate student at the Department of Applied Chemistry
even had the honor of welcoming the
at NCTU. Similar Background at Chalmers University of
Taiwanese Minister of Education to our
office during an inspection tour of the school.
Mattias Winsten - Representative Responsible for the Alumni group. Graduate student at the
The office members have also traveled
Department of Electrical Engineering at NCTU. Similar
all over Asia
background at Chalmers University of Technology.
for both business and
pleasure, visiting countries like Japan,
Photo: Karl-Johan Sellberg
So here I am in the middle of my second semester, winter
Right now, it’s almost been one year since I left Sweden. I have
turns to summer, but still wear shorts the year around. Taking
this strange feeling that it will all feel like a dream when I return.
interesting courses in Chinese and in English at school. During
Back to reality, to the life I am used to.
the recent year I made a lot of amazing travels and got some
Still people choose to stay here; I met many Swedes who ended
perspective of differences on eastern Asia. I traveled both with
up in Asia after just visiting. After establishing a social network
the Chalmers Asia office and on my own. Even though I had class
here it kind of feels like a second home. Maybe after some more
both during Christmas and New Years Eve, I was free during the
time it becomes your real home.
Chinese New Year in the end of January. I spent almost five weeks traveling through nearby countries.
So, what do you want to do with your life? I just found so many more opportunities being here. I also developed a pride of being
In Taiwan, I thought the traffic was chaotic until I came to
Swedish, spending my time abroad. I am so lucky!
Vietnam, I thought the language was strange until I learned it
Right now, it is spring here in Taiwan. Another year is passing by.
and I thought Swedish people were the nicest in the world, until
What did you do this year? I lived in Taiwan.
I got to know Taiwanese hospitality. I got to understand that Taiwan is different, both in a positive and negative sense. Even though, there are still some things I will never get a grip of, for example the scooters - how come there are so many, driving like crazy?
Johan Svennung / Head of Office
Laos and some as far as Nepal. We have
Anders Twetman - Representative
made many new acquaintances and
Editor of the Chalmers Asia Magazine. Graduate student at
seen many interesting things during our
NCTU’s Department of Electrical and Control Engineering.
Similar background at Chalmers University of Technology.
Now we are in the final stages of the
Karl-Johan Sellberg - Representative
semester, studying for final exams,
Art Director of the Chalmers Asia Magazine. Graduate
working on final projects and planning
student at the Department of Architecture at NCTU. Similar
our trips home. The semester is not
background at Chalmers University of Technology.
over yet, however, coming up is the Swedish national day which we at
Martina Johansson - Representative
Chalmers Asia combine with the most
Member of the Corporate Relations group. Graduate student
typically Swedish tradition of them all,
at the Department of Bioscience and Engineering at NCTU.
Similar background at Chalmers University of Technology.
So, there you have a short description
Maria Arvidsson - Representative
of the spring semester for us at
Member of the Academic Exchange group. Graduate student
Chalmers Asia. Now on to something
at the Department of Applied Chemistry and Environmental
more interesting, the articles of the
Engineering at NCTU. Similar background at Chalmers
thirteenth edition of the Chalmers Asia
University of Technology.
Magazine. Anna Gunnarsson - Representative Member of the Academic Exchange group. Graduate student at the Department of Management Technology at NCTU. Background from the Department of Mechanical Engieneering at Chalmers University of Technology. 3
Text: Hugo Franklin / Anton Kolbe
Photo: Hugo Franklin / Anton Kolbe
the street. In other cases seven storey houses are crammed
Another odd example of Tokyo offspring is the pragmatic
into tight spaces with no more than three meters between two
combinations of several programs within a single building such
buildings. Filling out the corners of street blocks are impossibly
as the “pachinko & bank” or “tennis & taxi”. City functions and
thin triangular buildings in scale competing with automatic
businesses are either mixed with no consideration for context,
vending machines, also referred to as “pet-architecture”.
a sex shop can be found next to a good restaurant, or they can group into a whole district such as the “Akihabara Electric
In dense commercial areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya streets have
Town” which is practically a small city with electronics and
been extended from the ground level all the way up into the
manga - a red light district in cartoon.
buildings and sometimes deep inside them. Elevators function as sections of street beginning directly from outside into the foyer
Another striking phenomenon from a Nordic perspective is the
of a restaurant on the 7th floor. The restaurants are stacked
windowless room, potentially comparable to cursing in church.
on top of each other with signposts marking their presence
These rooms work surprisingly well within the internal world
from the outside and, when walking outside on the street these
they create, often with an intimate atmosphere. Perhaps it is
facades can be browsed at leisure like ads in a magazine.The city
the messy urban character that also makes apartments strive
is perceived and used in all three dimensions and the impression
for a cut from the outside world by using windows that are
is vertical even though buildings are relatively low compared to
non-transparent. It seems to be a pragmatic reply to building
When walking around in the Tokyo cityscape we were
the regulations and tools used by Tokyo’s urban planners aren’t
struck by the chaotic madness and humorous mix of
concerned with any measurement or control for architectural
The culture of Tokyo has not only
that has allowed this to emerge.
diverse, ruthless, tasteless and sometimes fantastic
quality, style, color or relation to context. Instead, the only
created new architectural solutions but
This acceptance has opened up a
buildings and functions. However scattered among this
rules affecting the constructions are practical regulations for
also a whole new set of commercial
new field of room design.
commercial anarchist puzzle there are also some of
earthquake, fire, height and the overall urban grid. Additionally
functions in the city. A striking example
the most inspiring examples of creativity and unique
due to the fact that the government doesn’t own a lot of land it
that has emerged is a category called
In contrast to Sweden, Japanese
has little influence on the appearance and contents of the city.
“dividual space” by architects Yoshiharu
architecture is not burdened with
political or moral responsibility.
In a European city complexity is derived from the superimposition
The average lifetime of a building in central areas is less than 20
Caballero. It consists of commercial
Although the commercial foulness
of historical layers whereas in Tokyo it works like a patchwork
years.They are usually replaced when a new company or owner
settings publicly used as domestic
of many Japanese cities in itself
under constant change within a framework with only a few basic
takes over the land. In that sense, Tokyo is a use- and throw-
environments such as karaoke bars,
is nothing to celebrate, there is a
system rules. The most extravagant examples of commercial
away-culture actualized into architecture. In relation to land
love hotels, manga kissas, capsule
smaller risk to confuse aesthetics
architecture stand side by side and demand attention in the
prices construction costs are low; therefore, old buildings are
hotels, self serving coffee shops
with ethics. What is interesting
same manner as the colorful packages in a supermarket. The
torn down and new ones designed in order to fit the specific
or the kenkô land/saunas. As the
to learn is how many progressive
presence of a competitive market is as strong as the absence of
needs businesses and correspond with the brand.
work-hours are long, less time
ideas and beautiful or interesting
any type of temporal escape from consumption such as a public
traditional idea of room creation
is spent in the home, which is
spaces can come to life when
plaza or other governmentally owned zones that at least claim
The shortage of land has created a desire to fill all leftover
usually small and far away from
to be neutral.
spaces. The result is a collection of charming solutions and
the central areas. The dividual
handicapped by restrictions and
shapes. For instance, in the process of selling a piece of his land
space serves as an extension
The city planning differs a lot from the European approach where
the owner often keeps a square facing the street for himself
of the private residence and
an image of the city is created and referred to when granting
and the resulting consequence is that the rest of the site ends
responds to the often nomad-
permission for the design of individual buildings. In contrast,
up being flag shaped with only a thin corridor leading toward
like life style in Tokyo.
Where young professionals meet Text: Oskar Persson
Photo: Karl-Johan Sellberg
I have lived here in Singapore for almost 10 months, and
They describe a city of opportunities with many different
Both Mikael and Katarina stress that YP is not a job agency, even
completed higher education at a university is required. Setting
it will soon be time to go home. I will miss this place; it
jobs available to someone about to leave the life of a student.
though they do function as a bridge between students and the
up a new company online in Singapore can be accomplished
is a vibrant city that has changed a lot during the last
Trade and logistics has always been big in Singapore, it’s a great
business world. They tell me that most Swedish companies that
couple of decades. Singapore is a small city-state with
trading hub due to its geographical position, but areas such as
establish themselves in Singapore aren’t interested in Swedish
a population approximately half the size of Sweden’s,
engineering and software development are also experiencing
students; they want locals who speak different languages and
Singapore has, as most other countries, felt the effects from the
concentrated on a small island. Wherever you turn
growth. Singapore might lose some ground as an economic
understand various cultures in the region. Singapore has four
current financial crisis. It is very dependent on trade and was the
there are new projects, the old are torn down and new
powerhouse (most of the big, international banks have offices
official languages; Malay, Mandarin,Tamil and English. Even though
first Asian country to go into recession. Singapore is, however,
in Singapore) to India and China as they grow stronger, but they
English is used as the administrative language, Mandarin is the
a very rich country with foreign exchange reserves valued
will stay strong in areas such as trade and R&D.
most common language to hear when you sit down to eat at
somewhere around 200 billion SGD (1 SGD ≈ 5.5 SEK) and
a food court. A Swedish student, wishing to work in Singapore,
is using 4.9 billion SGD of these reserves for their “Resilience
I was asked to write about opportunities for a Swedish student in Singapore, so I decided to turn to Young Professionals (YP)
Singapore is a place where many ethnicities and cultures meet,
would probably have better luck going to the Multi national
Package” in the budget for 2009. This package aims to inject a
for advice. Young Professionals is a non-profit organization
forming a very creative environment. People here are very
corporations or begin their employment in Sweden and then
total of 20.5 billion SGD into the Singaporean economy.
based in Singapore that aims to bring Scandinavian expatriates
tolerant and combined with strict laws (it is forbidden to sell
apply for a position abroad.
All this combined makes Singapore a great place for both
(about 1700 Swedes live in Singapore) between 18-35 years
gum, spitting or littering is fined 200 SGD, caning is a common
old together and facilitate networking. I met up with Katarina
verdict in courts, and you can receive the death penalty for
The labour market in Singapore is very flexible and it is more
infrastructure, a safe, clean environment coupled with cheap
Wahlstedt and Mikael Wanland, who both have been living in
possessing only a small amount of drugs) and efficient criminal
common to often change employers than to remain in the same
and plentiful flights makes it ideal for being starting point before
Singapore for a couple of years and are members of the YP
system, makes for a very safe environment. I myself feel much
company for years.Taxes overall are very low, income tax varies
venturing deeper into Southeast Asia. Katarina’s advice to
board, to hear their opinions about Singapore and what it has
safer on the streets of Singapore than at home in Gothenburg.
somewhere around 5-10% and the equivalent to Value Added
future young professionals is to go beyond their comfort zone,
to offer. Mikael is also a representative for SBAS, the Swedish
Transparency International ranks Singapore at the fourth place
Tax (VAT), Goods and Service Tax (GST), is 7%. The process
challenge themselves and find a job and colleges that inspire!
Business Association of Singapore.
with their Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Three countries
to acquire a visa and working permit is “easy and quick”, but a
in the world, Sweden among them, received a lower level of perceived corruption.
living and doing business! The lack of a language barrier, great
Hong Kong; Future or Past Text: Anders Karlsson Photo: Anders Karlsson, Karl-Johan Sellberg
Hong Kong started out as a small fishing village that mainly
A big portion of the population in Hong Kong feared the Chinese
produced and traded in salt. In the early 19th century British
government takeover in 1997 because of the changes it would
trade was very dependent on tea exports from China, and in
have brought by; however a lot of things still remain the same
exchange the British imported luxury items such as watches
even after the takeover: English is still taught in schools, the
and clocks. However, as the Chinese demand for silver increased
border with the mainland continues to be patrolled, Hong Kong
and the British found it harder to meet, they started importing,
continues to have more political freedoms than China, such as
illegally, huge quantities of opium to increase their revenues.This
the freedom of press, and cars in Hong Kong still drive on the
illegal trade eventually lead to the Opium Wars between China
left hand side, etc.
and the United Kingdom. Britain won the war and took control over Hong Kong via the enactment of the new treaties in 1842.
I have lived in Hong Kong for almost 8 month now and I have
In the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th Century,
also visited China several times and, in my opinion, there still is
Hong Kong began to grow rapidly both economically and
a huge difference between China and Hong Kong. But since I
population, mainly due to the school system that the British
got here I have been wondering what future Hong Kong has as
started along with the first large scale bank HSBC( The Hong
an independent city. Hong Kong’s economy is dominated by the
Kong and the Shanghai banking corporation) which was founded
service sector, and although Hong Kong almost has no export
in 1865 and is one of the oldest banking groups in the world.
of its own a lot of exports from mainland China are distributed through Hong Kong. It has the sixth largest stock market and
However the growth reached a complete halt in the 1940’s
is still considered one of the world’s leading financial centers.
with the Japanese occupation during World War II and the
I wonder how long this will last? As China is opening up its
population shrunk from 1.6 million to six hundred thousand .
borders more and more to the West, the function that Hong
After World War II the Economy took off once again and many
Kong has as a portal between the West and China might vanish or
In my opinion I would rather live and work in Hong Kong than
all the things that I mentioned previously. If Hong Kong wants
people from mainland China, especially from Shanghai, moved to
its significance decrease substantially. Almost all the production
in mainland China because it has beautiful surroundings, clean
to survive the reunification with China it must keep spending
Hong Kong and a lot of manufacturing industries were formed.
that Hong Kong had has moved to China.The neighboring city of
air, excellent public transportation, the city is very concentrated
money on innovation, infrastructure, living conditions, public
As China continued to open up its borders, many industries,
Shenzhen in mainland China has a lot of industries and exhibits
and it has one of the freer economies in the world. I think
transportation, communications, etc. I could definitely see myself
originally located in Hong Kong, moved to mainland China in
an incredibly high growth, is also a special economic zone, and
that the key for Hong Kong’s success as a financial center
working in Hong Kong in the future and I like the city more each
order to benefit from lower wages. Hong Kong instead became
more liberal than the rest of China which, is where a lot of big
is to make people want to live here not just because of the
day I’m here so I hope it will maintain its independence and
a financial centre for Asia and a portal to mainland China for
companies have decided to locate.
many companies that operates here or high salaries but also
beauty in the future.
Another student from Linköping University, on an exchange to
Christmas Eve at the office, but that did not seem to affect his
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is Mats
comprehensive opinion at all, and he adds: “I wanted to try out
Ögren, who got an internship at the local company Singapore
how it feels to work in the Asian financial industry, and now I
Exchange Limited (SGX). Mats ran into their human resource’s
know. It was a great experience!” Mats also got along well with
vice president, who was at the NTU campus recruiting people
his colleagues both at work and outside, especially the ones
to a trainee programme, a meeting that later resulted in a five
his age, who he spent several nights exploring Singapore’s wide
weeks internship during the Christmas holiday.
range of bars and clubs with.
SGX is the country’s demutualised and integrated securities
So in other words, there will still be time for weekend trips
and derivatives exchange, which have had interns from foreign
and hanging out at your favourite spot in town. Singapore is a
countries before. Mats got a position within the “Business
country people often do not know so much about, but go there
Integration and Programme Management” where he worked
and you will soon know the whole of South East Asia, whether
with implementation of project plans into a new web-based
it is through studies, work or travel.
system. He thinks the way of working is more individualized than in
So, you came here to study? Text: Fabian Ingvarsson Photo: Fabian Ingvarsson / Karl-Johan Sellberg
Not yet feeling that much from the global economical
The power and automation technology company ABB are also
crisis, Singapore still provides people with work. Swedish
active in Singapore, with an office consisting of five divisions;
students going there will probably have good chances to
Power Products, Power Systems, Automation Products, Process
get an internship at either a local or a foreign company.
Automation and Robotics. Cecilia Nytorp, a student from
Do not expect the highest salary or best working hours,
Linköping University, took one semester off from her studies in
but instead new valuable experiences and friendly
Industrial Engineering and Management to go to Singapore for
an internship at ABB, which she found through connections at
Sweden and employees usually stay a couple of extra hours a day, unpaid, which is highly unusual in Sweden except for maybe some management positions. Mats even had to spend
one of their Swedish divisions. As a fourth year student she got Singapore is widely used by companies as a hub to provide the
to work with conducting an industry analysis on a segment in
country and rest of Asia with products and services. Having one
the offshore industry.
of the world’s busiest, most technologically developed seaports is an important factor for companies establishing business there.A
During the three months this internship lasted, Cecilia got along
large quantity of Swedish companies are represented, with such
very well with her colleagues, who she said were really friendly
examples as Akzo Nobel, Ericsson and Svenska Handelsbanken,
and nice, and they even went on several trips together. Cecilia
doing business within trading, marketing, sales, distribution and
thinks travelling is very convenient and cheap from Singapore
and recommends it to everyone that has the opportunity, mentioning Malaysia, Bali and Vietnam among the places she visited.
Progress in conflict
Asia taking place on the Anti-Aging Market
Text: Martina Johansson, Mattias Winsten Photo: Martina Johansson, Mattias Winsten
Text: Johan Svennung Illustration: Johan Svennung / Karl-Johan Sellberg
Taiwan’s position outside the south east coast of China
In the last year,Taiwan was given two pandas as a gift from mainland
Anti-aging is a term that has become popular recently
long–term objective is for Taiwan to hold three per cent of the
can be a reason for its unique history. About five hundred
China. It became a big topic since the Chinese names for these
world’s biotechnology market. Because of the government’s
years ago, Portuguese ships arrived at the coast of Taiwan.
two bears when combined were reunion. Further more, Taiwan
Some hundred years later, the Dutch people settled
did not need to pay an annual fee for these two animals, which
It is the study of how to prevent, slow down, or reverse the effects
favouritism in the area, Taiwan’s private sector has also quickly
down at the south end of the island and in 1895 Japan
other countries except China are required to, in order to support
of aging and help people live longer, healthier and happier lives.
developed and now more than 50 private companies are active
took control over the country. About sixty years ago
conservation efforts for wild pandas. Taiwan was not forced to
In contrast to the more established life extension, which has an
in this industry. A large part of these companies all focus on anti-
the Chinese government escaped to Taiwan. Since then
pay, because international legislation claimed that the transfer was
emphasis on the science behind aging, anti aging deals with slowing
aging in a variety of ways. The anti-aging marketplace includes
cultural treasures from China can be found in Taiwan.
domestic. This became a big issue among the Taiwanese people.
down the effects of aging and has a more proactive approach.
nutrition, physical fitness, skin care, hormone replacements,
Today, historical places can be spotted all over the island,
Today the pandas in Taipei Zoo can still trigger a debate.
Western countries have experienced an increase in companies
vitamins, supplements, and herbs. Modernised Chinese herbal
that want to sell them health. They market products related to
medicines is also an important part of this field. Physical plays a
According to many economic theories trade is one secret of
a healthy life style, both technical inventions as well as food and
minor role with functional foods having a dominant emphasis
The conflict between China and Taiwan is very complicated.
a country’s development. Being in a conflict is not beneficial,
cosmetics. In Japan, this has lead to an unprecedented boom in
One example of a very successful product is the LP33 yoghurt
According to many sources China considers Taiwan as their
during the last year the connections between mainland China
anti-aging treatments, and the biotechnology sector is with them
which contains Lactobacillus paracasei 33. LP33 is strain of lactic-
province. Some parts of the Taiwanese population consider
and Taiwan have opened a little bit more. Not only can airlines
every step of the way. The combination of increasing economic
acid bacteria intended to significantly reduce chronic allergies
Taiwan as an independent country. Even United Nations, where
fly direct without passing through Hong Kong but the trade and
confidence and the never-ending ambition to maintain health and
and is isolated from the intestinal tract of normal, healthy
Taiwan is not a member, considers mainland China as the only
possibility for the people to enter Taiwan are also better. Chinese
youthful looks has lead to an enormous amount of functional
Taiwanese people. It’s specific effect is reducing allergy symptoms
lawful representatives of China and does not question China’s
people have an opportunity to travel into Taiwanese territory, and
food products. If you enter a convenience store in Tokyo, there
such as nose, skin and eye irritation. According to clinical tests
claim that Taiwan is part of China. Sometimes Taiwan uses names
Taiwanese people travel a lot in China, where tourism is booming.
are hundreds of genetically modified products all with specific
this yoghurt reduces allergy symptoms by 40-60% and it is a
like “Chinese Taipei” in order not to cause provocation when
Taiwanese companies are investing a lot in China due to its fast
features.Taiwan is a country heavily influenced by Japanese trends
very good alternative to anti-histamine treatments as it has no
dealing in international businesses. The truth about why this is an
growth and development opportunities there.
and the biotechnology industry is on the move in
documented side effects. This lactic-acid bacteria strain is very
showing memories from all these historical events.
strong commitment to biotechnology and the global investment
issue can be discussed, a conflict is a conflict and the real answer
supported by strong government funding
might not ever exist.
and private sector interest.
useful in inhibiting the production of immunoglobulin E, a class of proteins produced in response to the presence of allergens to cause
The Taiwan Government has recognised the importance of
cells to produce histamines which are the source of allergy symptoms.
biotechnology industry and has backed this
to fund projects like
these we can expect
to see much more
Fund. The Industry
be a very effective
says that Taiwan’s
gene manipulation to
for the application of
normal food and as a
part of anti-aging.
Hong Kong Text: Hampus Linander
Photo: Hampus Linander / Karl-Johan Sellberg
Ten years ago I watched a Japanese animated movie,
fragrant part can be discussed. It is here that I have spent the
portraying a future in a setting commonly called
last year studying mathematics and experiencing Hong Kong
cyberpunk, where human and technology are beginning
and China. If you can bear with me for a few lines I would like
to merge. I was mesmerized by the feeling the movie
to give you a condensed version of the recent history that I
gave me, and one sequence has stayed with me ever
think is important to be able to understand Hong Kong and the
since.The sequence is an artistic expose of an Asian city
different groups of people that live here.
set to Japanese choral singing. I dreamed of places like this and wondered if the future could come to look like
It comes as no surprise that, given its location and geography,
this. Little did I know that ten years later I would live
Hong Kong became the major trading post with China as the
in the very city that was the inspiration for that movie,
West started expanding and searching for glory, adventure and
prosperous trade during the colonial age. For a long time this was the only place a foreigner could set foot in China and so it
Two years ago I was studying my second year of applied physics
follows that the western influence here has a long and deeply
at Chalmers in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was at this time that I
rooted history. After a few wars, mainly regarding England’s
started making my wish to study abroad a reality. At that time
hunger for a bigger piece of the trading cake, China was forced
I knew I wanted to study mathematics and that I wanted to
to give England a lease of Hong Kong. Spurred by England’s
do it in Asia. I had also begun to study a little bit of Mandarin,
free market policies in the region the economy of Hong Kong
the official language in China. In the end I was accepted for a
grew fast and it is now one of the major financial centres of the
language exchange in Taiwan during the summer and a year of
world. It is, as you know, only recently that Hong Kong has been
exchange studies in Hong Kong. I embarked on a very special
returned to China from its lease to England and right now is
year to the other side of the world. I’m going to try to give
going through a transition period where Beijing has promised
you a view of this city and the culture that lives here, life at my
to keep things as they are for at least another 50 years after the
university and some general thoughts about the East.
return. None the less many companies fled before the return and many still worry what will come about when Beijing’s buffer
A collection of islands in southern China and a small piece of
has passed. Surely though it is in China’s best interest to keep
the mainland constitutes Hong Kong, the fragrant harbour as
the massive economic machine that lives in Hong Kong, and
the literal translation of the characters tells us. The name is not
therefore not scare away the banks and investors.
for nothing, it truly is a perfect anchoring location, although the
This is where we find Hong Kong today, as an economic hub
water are the eight million people of Hong Kong. I soak up the
and a cultural oasis. The Cantonese language separates the
energy and try to flow along. The atmosphere of that animated
region from the central government in Beijing, and Hong Kong
movie sequence I watched so long ago is now all around me.
indeed has its very own style, shaped by its very unique history. Walking down the streets of Hong Kong island, surrounded
Riding along a stream can be enjoyable, but you are likely to hit
by the skyscrapers of the financial institutions, I am constantly
a few rocks in this one. The rocks in this stream are parts of
reminded of the enormous force that drives the human race
culture and to look ahead and steer wisely can save you a few
forward. Flowing down the neon filled streets of Mong Kok like
The biggest obstacle for anyone in a foreign place are the cultural differences, as has been stressed in many articles in this magazine before me.This phenomena is all the more important here because behind the westernised look lie Chinese virtues, and without a shadow of a doubt you will run into this. My approach has been to keep an open mind, and not to assume anything. To do so will help you to find the differences that exist in everyday life, from having a polite conversation to using a squat toilet. Some things show clearly, like watching a comedy movie where sometimes the Chinese would burst out in laughter whereas the western crowd would be totally silent, and the other way around at other moments. But it is the small things, the millions of unconscious signals that humans communicate with that can be hard to pick up on.The different backgrounds that have shaped us provides us with different ways of looking at the world. I think this is a big reason for my next observation, the segregation of groups at the university. Students from mainland China, locals and exchange students all form separate groups and it is only rarely that you see mixing in any deeper level other than shallow acquaintance. I find this very interesting because it tells me that deep down there exists a culture barrier which is hard to bridge. I encourage you to go out in the world and try to overcome that barrier, but to do so means to be able to first let go of your own cultural axioms, and this can be easier said than done. To not feel uncomfortable when someone next to you snorts loudly and spits on the street may take some time, but knowing that in Chinese traditional medicine it is considered unhealthy to swallow your saliva might help you a bit. To learn to properly interact with the politeness that exists in many Asian countries takes time. To realise that what I find polite and normal might be conceived completely differently. Every day here has been an adventure.
In the first semester I lived together with a student from Shanghai
help each other and carry out the tasks together. This seemed
who was studying full time in Hong Kong. This, the second
to surprise him and he said that indeed this â€œwesternâ€? way of
semester, he himself is an exchange student in USA. Now I am
collaborating to reach a common goal can speed up the process.
living together with a local student. To have been able to live
So the Chinese individualism can be found in all stages of life, the
together with both of them have been a great experience and it
constant race against others to perform better. At the same time
has taught me so much, and given me two friends on the other
family and country bonds are very strong.
side of the world. I couldnâ€™t have wished for a better way to live. What makes Hong Kong unique is the mix of Chinese and The academic life in Hong Kong has some notable differences
western culture. This makes it a perfect place to learn about
to Sweden. One of the biggest being that all the grading is done
the differences and a model for collaboration over the cultural
relative to the rest of the class. This means that to get a good
gaps. One year in this region has given me a lot of perspective,
grade you have to know the level of the rest of the class and
invaluable experience and a new language, but most of all it has
stay above that. The relative grading implies competition, which
given me friendship with people from all over the world. It seems
goes hand in hand with the Chinese mentality.That mentality is of
that a lot of the energy in the world is shifting towards the East
course a direct consequence of numbers, the population ensures
and I think that Hong Kong will continue to be a link between the
that students have to go through a huge amount of competition
two worlds, an obvious place for anyone who wants to be a part
to reach a good university. Here in Hong Kong this can be seen
of a future where East and West will merge more and more.
in the mainland students, whom make up about 10% of the total number of students. Mainland students usually create their own peak in the grading curve close to the maximum score. It amazes me to see this kind of determination and the workload that many students put themselves under. Although this seems to come at the price of other features, like the ability to effectively work in a group. Not that I doubt they would be able to do so if they wanted to but the competitive nature of the system inhibits good teamwork. As an example I would like to tell you about a seminar course I attended in the second semester. This was intended to bring students closer to the research by letting them work on a
Writing these last words I am looking at the bright skyline of Victoria Harbour,
problem assigned by a professor in a specific area of interest. I
the beautiful face of Hong Kong, still amazed that a place like this can exist
ended up together with two local students under the supervision
and grateful that I have had the chance to experience it! If you want to get a
of a mainland professor. At the end of the first meeting when
feeling of Hong Kong I suggest that you also watch the movie I encountered
the professor had described the problem at hand and given us
ten years ago, Ghost in the Shell by Mamoru Oshii, whom I have to thank for
the first set of calculations to carry out he remarked about our
setting me on the path to where I am today.
different backgrounds and that some of us might find the area difficult to handle. I then casually replied that we would of course
An exploding market Text: Gustav Sohtell Photo: Gustav Sohtell
Being a computer game developer in Singapore is a
in the game industry. You are at times expected to work long
TQGlobal handles the problem with staffing in a different way.
good game developer can also be a good web programmer,
tough job. You have to adapt to new technology, new
hours.The industry is moving quickly and it is very important to
Instead of relying on the universities to provide education they
database programmer, or researcher. You have to be very multi
techniques, and new methods every year. But there
keep the time from idea to released product as short as possible,
work together with the university and educate the students.
disciplinary to be a good game developer.
are great personal benefits of working in the gaming
especially in Singapore. The Singapore companies are small and
Together with Nanyang Technological University they offer a
rely much on finding their own niche of the industry in order
master program where they educate future game developers. It is
Samrat Sharma, Associate producer at Electronic Arts in
to succeed. Right now TQGlobal are looking into advertisement
tough.There are parts of the education which are very demanding;
Singapore puts it in different words. He says; “It is not just a
The computer game industry is exploding, especially in Southeast
gaming.They are trying to get big companies like McDonalds and
especially computer graphics is both challenging and important.
career, it’s a lifestyle” and a job in the game industry is “Satisfaction
Asia. New companies are founded every week. The work as a
Pepsi to sponsor the production and distribution. In return they
“Getting someone trained in computer graphics techniques is
game developer requires a lot of education and experience.
get advertisements in the game, or complete games, created as
very difficult, because the computer graphics subject is not an
There are basically nine areas of work in a game company.You can
an advertisement. It is a fairly new market but it has big potential,
easy subject. I’ve seen people after going to the exam come out
work as designer, producer, project manager, quality assurance,
crying.” Brian says. In their first batch of students, four out of eight
programmer, artist, sound designer, sales or support personnel.
There is a big diversity between the different positions and not all of them require an education in computer engineering or
Currently it is very difficult to find personnel for game
But the job as a game developer is very rewarding. You need and
computer science. The designer, for example, is responsible for
development in Singapore. “There is a shortage in the pool
you get to learn a lot during your work, otherwise you will not
making the games fun and the producer is responsible for the
of local talents; basically this happens to any infant industry.”
be able to compete with other companies in an exploding market
complete user experience. But in a small company you’ll have to
Brian says and we quickly come to the subject of multinational
which is growing by about 20% each year.
pretty much be a part of everything.
companies. Many of the multinational gaming companies in Singapore hire all the new talents on the market but there
“Learning is quite tough, but the rewards are there” Brian
Brian Tan is a research and development engineer at the company
are also pros with the multinational companies. They produce
says. It is very fun working as a game developer and when you
TQGlobal. He has been working in the game industry for a few
headlines and provide good advertisement for Singapore as a
have the education, you are also very attractive in the market.
years. When talking to Brian you get the impression that he
new gaming industry market.
It is not difficult to find a job if you have an education in game
really enjoys working as a game developer but it is not all fun
development or computer graphics. Brian also explains that a
High speed Rail- a convenient way to travel Text: Anna Gunnarsson
Photo: Anna Gunnarsson
High speed rail is a new way of traveling. Everything, from
All the stations lie outside city centers, a smart choice from
Mostly businessmen use the HSR although it is still considered
the ease of booking a ticket online to the architecture
the former president Jiang Jing-Guo as he wanted to create an
expensive by the general public. A ticket from Taipei to Kaohsiung
of the stations to the way you are taken care of in the
attractive area around the stations. He has succeeded as small
costs about 1256 NTD (314 SEK). Though it is less expensive
trains feels new and modern. Compared to regular
communities have sprung up around some of the stations.
during the day there is no reduction for students, something that is common in other transportation sectors in Taiwan.
trains and the buses there is a huge difference. This new technology is great for Taiwan, the country where
The total length of the rail is 345 km and with no stops it takes
convenience is very important.
90 minutes to travel from end to end, this can be comparable to a flight, (fifty minutes) and regular train times (four hours
Before the train existed it was common to fly between Taipei and
The high speed rail (HSR) is new for Taiwan and was just opened
and forty-five minutes). With the exception of flying HSR is
the southern end of the island but now flights are rare as it is just
on the 5th of January 2007. It connects the country north to
the fastest way to travel in Taiwan with a top speed of 300 km/
as easy to take the HSR. By building the train Taiwan has taken a
south running from Taipei to Kaohsiung. Right now eight stations
hour. The train consists of 11 cars with 923 standard seats and
step ahead regarding the environmental issue as the trains also
are located along the route: Taipei, Banciao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu,
one business car with 66 seats, which is of course a little bit
reduces pollution, a substantial problem in the larger cities. This
Taichung, Chiayi,Tainan, Zuoying and Kaohsiung.The most famous
more luxurious then the rest. To make it convenient for the
is a good thing and I think that the HSR will become more and
stations are probably Taipei, the capital, Kaohsiung, the second
passengers the stations are either connected to the city via free
more popular as people start to realize how convenient it is.
biggest city and Taoyuan, the city close to the international
shuttle bus or as in Taipei to the MRT network.
airport. Another 4 stations are planned to be added in 2013.
Tourism vs Poverty
Text: Anders Twetman Photo: Maria Arvidsson / Anders Twetman
Located smack dab in the middle of a region swarming
Laos has been a rather closed society but has recently started
has to fight the day to day corruption of underpaid public
playing on the precariously unstable rope swings. As an outside
with backpackers lies Laos, one of the poorest countries
to open up and allow for a more capitalist economy and at
servants demanding bribes in order to survive.
onlooker it seems almost decadent, an orgy in drugs (yes, they
in the world. Tourism, however, is taking over parts of
present the GDP, though still low compared to other countries,
is growing despite the general economic decline.
can be found if you ask at the right bar) alcohol, loud music All though the work SIDA’s done has given results, much remains
and semi safe pastimes. The only Laotians around are bar staff,
before the country can pull itself out of the depths of poverty.
hostel owners and small children serving dubious alcohol from
The words often used to describe the mountainous parts of Laos
The political situation on the other hand is rather stagnant as
In light of this, it can be considered negative that Owe and his
unmarked bottles. The place is crawling with tourists and when
are ‘lush’ and ‘rural’. From the bus window all I see is the green of
the country is still under strict communist rule. Much of SIDA’s
co-workers are planning the phase out of Swedish development
they do not engage in tubing – as the riverside bar hop is called
the jungle and small villages consisting of simple wooden houses
work concerns human rights, democracy and enforcing the rule
aid. However they are moving out in a responsible way, trying to
– they stay in the restaurants watching reruns of American TV
and rice paddies. The feeling of poverty and underdevelopment
of law. According to Owe, there was not one single textbook
find other donors to take over the projects.
series. In contrast to all this, just down stream from the bars,
is almost palpable. It is not until we reach Vientiane that the
on jurisprudence in Laos twenty five years ago but now, much
buildings start to resemble those of a modern city but it is still a
thanks to SIDA’s work, there are several. Other projects include
As in most cases, wealth is spread unequally and with growing
far cry from the sprawling metropolis normally associated with
construction of access roads, hydro power projects and raising
economy come larger gaps between the rich and poor. A
the word ‘capital’.
the level of research at Laos’s sole university. The roads enable
good example of this is Vang Vien, a town consisting of bars,
Yes Laos is an impoverished country and yes, tourism could boost
the inhabitants of the poorest areas to reach important social
restaurants and hostels. A place where backpackers gather to
the economy to new heights but would that fill the country with
It was in order to combat this poverty that the Swedish
services such as hospitals and the hydro power projects as well
float down the river on inflated rubber tubes, going from one
the decadence of Vang Vien, and if so, is that desirable?
International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) came
as provide the mountain regions with electricity – something
riverside bar to the next, imbibing large amounts of alcohol and
here in the 80’s, Owe Andersson, my contact at SIDA, explains.
that greatly increases quality of life. In all of these projects SIDA
one can find lingering traces of the old rural life where children are laying out fishing nets.
Singapore – The “Diet” Version of Asia Text: Kristina Liljestrand / Carin Jobson Sellström Photo: Karl-Johan Sellberg
Singapore! Most people expect strict laws, a clean
When a company wants to expand their business and for example
environment and Singapore Slings at Raffles Hotel.
reach the large market in China, Singapore has an excellent
Most do not realize the business opportunities and
position since they protect the companies IP and at the same
excellent mix of Western and Asian culture that inspires
time provide business opportunities for these companies to find
people and companies in Singapore. This small country
partners in Asia.
in South-East Asia is indeed a gateway to the booming market in Asia. It can either be a safe starting point
The ideal situation for small and middle sized western companies
for establishing a business in Asia or a way to locate
is to start up in Singapore which has a great R&D platform, get
partners from China or India to collaborate with when
IP protected, establish contacts and find partners in China that
introducing your company into these countries.
can help with business setup, in order to enter China and other Asian countries.
The advantages lay in both the excellent intellectual property protection climate and the impressive logistics hub which
The other advantage Singapore has is the harbour which is ranked
Singapore houses.The government offers companies an organized
as the busiest container port in the world. Approximately 30
framework where laws limit imitation and protect R&D but at
million containers are handled in the port every year. Singapore
the same time provides a network of easy connections to other
is a small state and most of the containers are only being
large Asian markets such as China and India.
transferred to other ships, also called trans-shipment. Although the trans-shipment rate is high, companies and ships keep coming
Frans Carpay, an entrepreneur from Holland, runs a consultant
to Singapore and every year the port grows another 10%.
cooperation called EuroINC that offers help to small European
One of the main reasons why Singapore has had such success is its
companies when setting up in Singapore. The Asian countries
strategic geographic position. Ships coming from China going to
do not have built-up agreement concerning trade as most of
Europe have to pass the Strait of Malacca and they pass Singapore
the Western world, so small companies benefit if supported by
on the way. Even ships to and from Australia and South East Asia
experience business people during the process. Frans Carpay
have a convenient port for trans-shipment in Singapore. The
both offers a wide network of contacts and a guided business
question is why Singapore has gained this unique position even
though its neighbouring countries have the same geographical advantage. Part of the answer is that Singapore has built a port
Unlike other Asian countries, Singapore has a good framework
with new technologies that makes it the most efficient port in
for protecting companies’ intellectual property. Intellectual
property (IP) refers to the intangible things that companies
possess such as employee knowledge, patents that protect
Another important factor is that it size matters. The port has
important inventions and the trade secrets companies have.
250 shipping lines which connect Singapore to 600 ports in 123
The value of the IP is hard to estimate but there is no doubt
countries world-wide. To put it simply, Singapore is a convenient
the potential is great enough that organizations take action
port. Most of the large logistics companies have subdivisions in
to protect the IP. In other Asian countries such as China, the
Singapore and those not situated in Singapore will find themselves
protection of intellectual property is inferior to Singapore as it
isolated and alone. Even people transportation is a huge business
does not keep valuable protected products from being copied.
in Singapore. The international airport is ranked second best in
The conferance area
Not a walk in the park Text: Jesper Nilsson / Maria Arvidsson Photo: Jesper Nilsson / Maria Arvidsson
the world and handles about 70 million passengers every year.
The political situation in Nepal is everything but stable,
spot for travellers in Kathmandu, was the busiest street in Asia,
Establishing a business unit successfully without sufficient
and has been so for a while. Many of the everyday
after Khao San Road.When the taxi left the airport the dirtroad
knowledge about the country and culture can be difficult. For
problems a Nepalese has to deal with are essentially of
was only lit by the car head lights as there were no electric
large companies this is usually not a problem because they have
a strictly political nature and way above their heads.
streetlights whatsoever. And where did all the people go? Were
resources to make changes along the way and can hire people
we getting robbed? If this was to suddenly become as buzzing
to supervise the development. Smaller companies on the other
As we touched ground at the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu
as we were told, someone must be planning the biggest surprise
hand either do not have the funds or any possibilities to hire a
it was pitch black. After solving the immigration and visa issues
party ever! Unfortunately, there was no party. At least not yet,
lot of new employees for this. To assist small companies there are
we entered the eagerly awaiting crowd of taxi drivers.According
we made our way to the hostel and slept for ten hours.
organizations specializing in helping these European enterprises
to the research we did prior to leaving Taipei, Thamel, the hot
moving to Asia. One of these companies is EuroINC, which helps small high technology companies from Holland, Belgium and Germany move to Singapore. A typical customer for EuroINC has around 10 employees and comes to Singapore either for R&D or as a first contact with Asia on its way to China or India. President for EuroINC, Frans Carpay has a long history working with R&D, both in Europe and Asia. He helps companies establish relevant business contacts in Singapore, hires local employees and offers advice on how to proceed in the Asian market. These activities demand knowledge about Singapore that can only be gained by actually living in Singapore. According to Frans Carpay the first step for a successful move is to do an extensive field trip to find business contacts and funding. It is not necessary for a company to be fully funded when moving to Singapore but if a company wants to do R&D, there are excellent opportunities to recieve financial funding in Singapore. The next step is to hire local employees; it is important that there is at least one person from the parent company situated in Singapore otherwise different business units might grow in separate directions. After a successful start of the business unit in Singapore, preferably with an Asian partner, it is easier to gain access to other Asian markets
not representative of Nepal. The numerous mountain areas are
It takes about two more weeks before we stumble upon the
where the soul of Nepal is. It was during our three weeks in
second sign of the recent developments in politics. When our
the Nepalese mountains we learned how political issues and the
guide takes us to his home village on a road less travelled we
Maoist presence effect Nepal as a whole.
notice something odd. Electric power poles stood throughout the village without any cables running between them. When asked
On our first day of trekking we experienced the first real sign of
Gopal explains that a French power company started to build
the unstable political situation. After packing and getting ready for
an electric infrastructure in the region some twenty years ago.
a few weeks trekking we set off for the bus to the starting point.
The Maoists, not being too keen on the idea of a multinational
However the bus, along with all other means of transportation,
company exploiting the villagers, put a stop to the project.
was cancelled because the Maoists alledgedly were throwing
However, major changes were coming, Gopal reassured us. A
rocks at passing cars. Seems we’re walking, our guide Gopal said.
big project involving the construction of a dam was underway, this time using government funds. All things considered Nepals
Living in the mountains has it’s pros and cons. The remoteness
troubles might just be growing pains as it’s not just the newest
brings with it an apparent issue of carrying necessities to where
republic on the planet, but also has the first ever publicly elected
they’re needed. So far this can only be done with manual labour
communistic prime minister.
and the occasional pack of donkeys. Electric power, where it could be afforded, was elegantly provided by solar panels or small hydro power stations. Some villages were even self sufficient.
It turned out that due to the strained political situation there’s
Party of Nepal or simply ”the Maoists” (currently said to be
a curfew in Kathmandu. Nothing is allowed to stay open after
enjoying the support of the majority of the Nepalese people)
midnight. The lack of electricity? Power rationing. Kathmandu
proclaimed a ”peoples war”. After that uprisings have been
suffers from power cuts that leaves only a few hours of
frequent and common.
electricity a day. Seems strange for a country that holds the second largest hydropower potential in the world, after Brazil.
Street noise woke us up. Is this the same city we flew into?
But on second thought perhaps the irregularities in Nepal
Outside a bustling street with a steady stream of people and
aren’t that strange after all.This is a country that’s gone from an
countless little oriental shops stunned us – Kathmandu had
absolute monarchy to a somewhat democratic republic in the
finally showed it’s true colors. It was like stepping into a whole
last fifteen years and it hasn’t been smooth. Since 1990, when
new world.We’ll never forget that feeling; going from a complete
the king lifted the ban on political parties, no government has
vacuum to pure ecstasy just by closing our eyes for a while.
survived more than two consecutive years. Since the early 90’s
No wonder the taxi driver didn’t drive on any paved roads,
a number of coalitions between the Nepali congress and the
there were none! Everything was dusty and the air polluted.
Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist - Leninist have
People were everywhere, a bunch of things in bright colors
crashed. As a reaction to the corruption and failure to provide
and people trying to force things on you wherever you go. It
democracy and improvements to the people, the Communist
was truely intense, and we loved it! Kathmandu, however, is
Illustration: Johan Svennung / Karl-Johan Sellberg
National Chiao Tung University
Chalmers Asienprogram National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) är det främsta tekniska
att i sitt yrkesliv ha kontakter i hela området från Japan till Sin-
universitet i Taiwan. Universitetet har sin starkaste profil inom
gapore. Därför har Chalmers utvecklat ett specialprogram som
elektronik och informationsteknologi. I samarbete med National
ger studenter möjligheter till studier och erfarenheter från dessa
Tsing Hua University täcker utbytet alla civilingenjörsprogram på
Chalmers. Utbildning ges på engelska för studenter från Chalmers genom anpassning av de kurser som utbytet omfattar. Utbudet på kurser som kan ges på engelska ökar men det är en fördel att kunna en del kinesiska varför företräde ges till de studenter som genomgått språkkursen i kinesiska föregående sommar.
Programmet består av följande delar: * Intensivkurs i kinesiska, 6 veckor i juli – augusti 2009. Kursen är förlagd till Hsinchu,Taiwan. * Studerandeutbyte med National Chiao Tung University * Utbyten med andra partneruniversitet i Asien: Japan,
Ekonomierna i östra Asien har visat en enastående ekonomisk utveckling under slutet av 1900-talet. Japan har fått sällskap av Kina bland världens ekonomiska giganter. Regionen är intressant, dynamisk och utmanade. Allt fler med teknisk utbildning kommer
Singapore och Hong Kong.
CHALMERS IN ASIA Studying at Chalmers does not limit you to Gothenburg, Sweden. Through many exchange programs Chalmers students are given the opportunity to study at a range of Asian universities. Likewise, students from many different countries are invited to study at Chalmers in Sweden.
Sendai, Japan Tohoku University
Tokyo, Japan Tokyo Institute of Technology
Shanghai, China Sino-Swedish campus at Fudan University
Hsinchu, Taiwan National Chiao Tung University
Hong Kong, China The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Singapore Nanyang Technological University The National University of Singapore
Chalmers University of Technology
SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden Phone +46 31 772 1000 Internet www.chalmers.se
Published on Jan 31, 2014