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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 Chalmers’ 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 Art Director KARL-JOHAN SELLBERG CONTACT ADRESS Chalmers Asia, National Chiao Tung University, 1001 Ta-Hsueh Rd., Hsinchu 30010, Taiwan, R.O.C. web 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



3 office representatives









Photo: Karl-Johan Sellberg



asiaOffice Representatives

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

Tokyo Breeds

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

within days.

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,

buildings emerge.

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.

western companies.


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

technical support.

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

and quickly.

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



Government continues


initiatives as


new such



to fund projects like


these we can expect


to see much more

Fund. The Industry








the of



future. It




be a very effective

Economic Affairs


says that Taiwan’s

gene manipulation to





for the application of


normal food and as a


part of anti-aging.





to the

utilize sector


asia Diary

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

Hong Kong.

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

16 14

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


17 15

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 “western� 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 couldn’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,

Brian explains.

crying.” Brian says. In their first batch of students, four out of eight

programmer, artist, sound designer, sales or support personnel.

dropped out.

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,

the country.

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

the region.

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

Asia Magazine #13  
Asia Magazine #13