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Chalmers International Taiwan Office

asiamagazine WHAT IS CHALMERS INTERNATIONAL TAIWAN OFFICE? Chalmers International Taiwan Office, CITO, was opened in March 2003 and is the result of a bilateral exchange agreement between National Chiao Tung University, NCTU, and Chalmers University of Technology. CITO 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. - Act as a hub at NCTU for Chalmers students in East Asia. - Further develop cooperation with Swedish companies in Taiwan and Asia.

A part of CITO’s mission is to enhance opportunities for Chalmers students in Asia. To do this we search for internships, master theses or other cooperation. If you are looking for assistance to grab the opportunities in Asia, do not hesitate to contact us today! 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 within the World Wide Programme in Asia. EDITOR ALEXANDER FORNELL ART DIRECTOR HAMPUS TENGFJORD CONTACT ADRESS CITO, National Chiao Tung University, 1001 Ta-Hsueh Rd., Hsinchu 300, Taiwan, R.O.C. WEB PHONE +886 (0978 355 991 +46 (0)31 772 10 00

Front cover: Temple, Cambodia, , photo by Lisa Barrehag Back cover: Mountains Nepal, photo by Fredrik Brosser Page 1: River, Nepal, photo by Fredrik Brosser

asiaContents asiaOffice




asiaLetter I recently held a focus group session together with another CITO member as part of a course that we are taking. The main purpose of the course is to learn about research design and methods so we were mainly supposed to learn about how to conduct and implement focus groups. However, this gave us an excellent opportunity to ask other students what they thought are the most important factors when selecting a foreign university.

university, it will be one of the best decisions you ever make. Finally, I would like to end this column by thanking all of you who have written articles for this issue of Asia Magazine. Without your participation it would not have been possible to create such a great magazine!

We invited other students to our office and served them cinnamon buns and coffee before starting the focus group sessions. Those that participated had a heterogeneous background, but there were still three re-occurring themes that we kept hearing. The most important factor for most was the geographical location of the university, one stated that she wanted to go to Taiwan but learned about the university 24 hours before the application deadline. Trailing location as a factor was a mix of wanting to do something different and to have something that would look good on an rĂŠsumĂŠ. Another takeaway from the focus group sessions was that most knew little to nothing about the foreign university when they were applying. It was not until they had been accepted that they started to research the university and what they could expect. However, this was also an arduous endeavour for most unless the students knew older students who had studied at the school that they had been accepted to. This was because of the general incomprehensibility of most university webpages, nota bene Chalmers own webpage was not spared from criticism regarding this. This suggest that once a successful exchange has been started and alumni from it returns to their respective institution one can expect that it will spawn more interest for going abroad. It might also explain why so many from Industrial Engineering and Management at Chalmers decide to go abroad, five out of six CITO members come from the aforementioned institution. Despite the initial lack of information everyone was very happy with his or her decision to go abroad and study at a foreign university. One Taiwanese student said that going to Sweden to study was the best decision of his life. Further, when I read old issues of Asia Magazine looking for inspiration for this column I could not help to notice how many that wrote about how happy they were with being abroad. So it is hard to argue against the results of the focus group that we conducted, even if information is sparse and you only go by the location of the


Alexander Fornell, Editor in Chief


Johannes Schygge

Viktor Mårdström

Head of Office

Deputy Head of Office and Treasurer

Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.

Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.



Lisa Barrehag

Jesper Wallén

Responsible for the Alumni Group and

Responsible for Corporate Relations

Academic Exchange

Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management..

Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics of Innovation. Email:


Alexander Fornell

Hampus Tengjord

Editor in Chief of Asia Magazine

Art Director and IT Responsible

Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.

Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Automation



and Mechatronics from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Systems, Control and Mechatronics.


Ethics of Banking in Singapore

Text & photos:Viktor Mårdström, NCTU, Taiwan

Since its independence and breaking away from the United Kingdom in 1963, Singapore has risen to become one of the most prominent financial centres in the world. Although alternative regions of intense financial activity like Shanghai has since emerged, Singapore remains quite unique in its position as a major regional hub for international banks conducting their business in Asia. The very deliberate hands-off approach adopted by the Singaporean government plays an important part in explaining why foreign investors tend to favour putting their savings in banks located in Singapore but has also created a very secretive industry that goes to great length to protect the privacy of its customers. The situation is akin to that of Switzerland and its legendary banking sector and as both the EU and the US are stepping up their efforts to hunt down tax evaders, will Singaporean politicians stick to playing the pragmatic game? In the meantime, allegations of Myanmar blood money in the banking system have started to surface. Background - Singapore as a Financial Centre Developing Singapore into a financial centre that could attract major foreign investments was one of the goals of the nation’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), when his cabinet started to develop Singapore’s minus4

cule resources in the 1960s. Among the many initiatives undertaken to promote Singapore as a business centre was the setting up of a stock market to provide an alternative for capital flows during the hours of the day when the markets of America and Europe are closed simultaneously. Furthermore, the strategic position of Singapore’s port made it convenient for foreign corporations to have a presence here, which in turned fuelled a need for local capital management. It is fair to say that the banking model that emerged is largely based on the Switzerland banking system, with minimum transparency and maximum secrecy for depositors and other customers. Tax Haven, Offshore Companies and Myanmar Blood Money Singapore has been the target of criticism concerning its perceived status as a tax haven and centre of shady offshore companies for decades. However, most of the business conducted in this manner has not been big enough to attain global media attention, nor unique among countries that have been labelled tax havens. Furthermore, as pressure has been mounting on nations perceived as being tax havens, Singapore has been increasingly compliant with international regulations and has made it clear that tax evasion is illegal in the country. Since the 1990s, most criticism directed against the financial industry of Singapore has concerned ethics and conduct rather than outright crime.

Even so, Singapore’s banking system began to make global headlines in 2009 when allegations started to surface that international oil giants Chevron and Total were conducting unethical businesses in Myanmar. The Wall Street Journal reported that their joint venture together with prominent Myanmar military officials,Yadana, was responsible for serious human rights transgressions. The trail lead to two major Singaporean banks, the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and the DBS Group, since they manage the majority of the personal fortunes of the top brass of Myanmar’s military dictatorship. The capital that has been accumulated in the various accounts of those banks can thus to a certain extent be regarded as blood money, as it originates from businesses within Myanmar that brutally exploits both its people and the land. The Bigger Picture The important question to be answered is whether the all-encompassing pragmatism that rules the politics of Singapore makes the perceived lack of ethics in its banking sector symptomatic of the conduct of business generally in the city-state. The hands-off approach to dubious business practices favoured by the Singaporean government is increasingly put to the test as more and more multinationals become embroiled in scandals emerging as a result of reform in Myanmar. There is a growing opinion both inside and outside Singapore that questions whether it is worthy of such an otherwise advanced nation to provide financial services to one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.

is essentially encouraging its people to focus on their careers and making money rather than engaging in the civil society. Most taxi drivers that I spoke to while touring the city assert that Singapore was a better place to live in 20 years ago, before the massive inflow of foreign capital which increased the price level for ordinary citizen as well leading to gentrification of neighbourhoods. The financial district of Singapore is as imposing as it is impressive and those that have an insider’s view tend to emphasize that while the multinational banks generally adhere to a code of conduct that is global, the domestic banks are much more “flexible” when it comes to giving their customers leeway in issues involving questionable moral standards. It also seems to be generally agreed that this is a more or less unspoken truth in Singapore that goes hand in hand with the pervasive laissez-faire business mentality. Keeping in mind that Singapore developed the model of state capitalism that has since famously been adopted by the Chinese government, the question that keeps on grinding in my mind is whether such a lack of moral foundation can successfully coexist with the apparently otherwise ultra-modern society that is Singapore of today.

During my stay in Singapore I met several interesting individuals who shared their views on the state and how it operates. The picture that gradually emerged was that of a rigid authoritarian regime covered by a façade of explosive economic growth, pragmatism and moral relativism. Many of those I met seemed completely unsurprised by the notion of Myanmar blood money in the Singaporean banking sector, as transparency is minimal and public awareness low. A recurring complaint, especially from people that have been unable to profit from Singapore’s economic growth, is that the government 5

Chalmers at NCTU Chronicle of CITO a Decade of Successful Collaboration (2003-2013) Text & photos: Johannes Schygge, NCTU, Taiwan

Chalmers International Taiwan Office (CITO) CITO is a product of successful partnership between Chalmers University of Technology and National Chiao Tung University (NCTU). Chalmers students taking courses as part of their exchange at NCTU staff the office, taking care of different activities on behalf of Chalmers. It all began at the dawn of the new millennia, when Henrik Byström (Head of Swedish Trade, Taiwan) came to visit Folke Hjalmers (Advisor for International Relations, Chalmers). Chalmers was at the time very interested in creating a presence elsewhere in the world and Taiwan was deemed to be a suitable location. Mr Van Hoang came to NCTU as an ambassador student from Chalmers in 2002 to map the activities of the NCTU campus and to find an appropriate location for the office. This was not an easy task, but the perfect place was found in the library of NCTU. The university presidents at the time, Jan-Eric Sundgren and Zhāng Jùn Yàn, took part in the opening ceremony and the work could begin. The CITO website was created, the first Magazine was produced and released, and Swedish companies SKF and Atlas Copco were visited. The foundation for an attractive exchange was thus established. The SARS epidemic broke out in 2003, which prevented the Chalmers students to study Chinese during that summer. Support was given from Business Swedish Taiwan (formerly Swedish Trade Taiwan), and since then the relationship has grown stronger between CITO and Business Swedish and also the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. Swedish traditions like Lucia, Christmas, Walpurgis Night (Valborg) and Crayfish-parties have


been celebrated together to show the Swedish heritage here in Taiwan. Since the beginning the students carrying out the goals of the office have had great experiences. Beautiful Taiwan and many other countries in South East Asia have been explored to learn about cultures, universities, companies, technology and business in the region. Culture has not only been received, but also given, as the CITO staff has held cultural, language and sports events to teach about Sweden and Chalmers. During these years the NCTU Europe Office that is the analogue of the CITO office has also grown. Professors from NCTU and Chalmers come to visit the partner universities from time to time. Thanks to this prosperous collaboration, universities from other countries have become interested in our office and visited it to learn about it. Many interesting people have been met throughout the years: The Deputy Director General of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Head of the Swedish Department of Education’s International Office, members of the Swedish Parliament, representative from Taipei Mission in Stockholm, Taiwan’s Minister of Education and Hsinchu’s Mayor to mention a few. Both Chalmers staff and students have participated in many Chinese - Swedish Joint Business Council meetings. These annual meetings have among other things highlighted how important student mobility is in general, and especially the Chalmers-NCTU cooperation, when it comes to the relation between Sweden and Taiwan. We wish for many remarkable years to come!

Communication is the First Step

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the official name since 1989 also known as Burma or Myanmar, is a country with hope of a future democratic dividend. It is the world’s longest running military dictatorship, having been governed by military rule since 1962. In 2011 change began with democratic reforms and the transfer of power from the military to a civil government. As part of this process the opposition leader and Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was also released. The country has traditionally had a strong military, which came into power after the end of British rule in 1948. Another claim to power was the military’s part in fighting the Japanese occupation together with the allied forces. This is considered to some extent to be the birth of modern Myanmar and the forces fighting against the Japanese were later involved in forming the post-independence army and government. There have been many occasions, which have brought about great sadness and grief in the history of Myanmar and considerable problems remain. After years of self-imposed isolation, Myanmar is now considered to be one of the least developed countries of the world. The cellphone penetration, often cited as an indicator of economic development, is merely 9 percent and can be compared to 64 percent in Laos, 57 in Cambodia, and close to 100 percent in Malaysia and Thailand. After 2011 the world looks to Myanmar with cautious optimism and so does a lot of industry leaders. Economic sanctions have been lifted and Myanmar foreign relations have drastically improved, particularly towards Western nations. However, the relations with neighboring states have not improved in a similar fashion. Following the democratic reforms in 2011 Hillary Clinton visited Myanmar, the first US Secretary of State in 50 years to do so. Barack Obama followed her a year later making him the first incumbent US president to visit Myanmar. This was about a week after the Prime Minister of Sweden, Fredrik Reinfeldt, visited the country where he met both president Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, two mandatory meetings for most foreign leaders. Part of the Swedish delegation was Swedish companies such as the telecommunication company TeliaSonera. The interest from Swedish industries is strongly on the rise although active trade is still marginal. Products from Scania and Volvo constitute for most of the export from Sweden to Myanmar but beside those, few companies are represented in Myanmar. In the summer of 2012, Ericsson was one of the first to set up an office, illustrating the interest of telecom companies who see an enor-

Text & photos: Hampus Tengfjord, NCTU, Taiwan

mous potential in the market. CITO also has links to Myanmar. Andreas Sigurdsson, Head of Office 2003/2004 is the founder and Managing Director of Lychee Ventures in Myanmar, a investment company in the telecom and online media business. The recent trend of democratization marks the first time Myanmar opens up its economy to private investments from foreign companies. Recently Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, talked during his visit about the importance of free, uncensored and widespread access to Internet. “By far the best formula [for development] is an open and free Internet,” Schmidt said. Today there is not much use of having a smartphone in Myanmar, as the network is constantly congested, prices are excessive and data services meager. Myanmar has the world’s second lowest share of cellphone users after North Korea, and that is an improvement compared to 2009 when they were last. A change is anticipated by 2016, when 80 percent of the population is expected to be cellphone subscribers. As the country represents one of the last markets to open up in the region the competition to gain a foothold is immense, with interest from most major international operators. Swedish companies are interested in providing telecom services, as well as upgrading and extending the base station network. Initially telecommunication licenses are to be issued to two local and two foreign operators as the resources of Yatanarpon Teleport and Myanmar Posts and Telecommunication (MPT), the two local semi-governmental operators, are considered to be too small. This kind of deal often results in a joint venture between the local operator and a foreign corporation, where the latter provides the majority of the investment needed. Needless to say therefore, there is no lack of willing investors but the conflicting interests of the stakeholders are likely going to present challenges in the future. Recently a power struggle concerning the price of SIM cards led to the resignation of Thein Tun, former Minister of Post and Telecommunication in Myanmar. The former minister desired a SIM card price of 200,000 kyat (about US $220), a price impossible for most Myanmar customers, while the president’s office had called for it to be 50,000 kyat. The price is were finally reduced with 99 % to a price of US $2. However, the problem to get hold of SIM cards which is taken for granted in most countries today is expected to be reduced to zero by 2014 when foreign investments are established. Though the former 7

price of US $220 were probably considered reasonable for some, compared to what you had to pay back in 2001 when SIM cards were sold for US $3000. Telecommunications has proven to have a significant impact to the economic growth of a country and its benefits can also be linked to many other areas. It is not strange that it is handled with a high priority when developing Myanmar. The process is looked upon with great interest and another reason for this is to see how licensing proceeds and how the government handles the entry of foreign interests. It is not only the business of telecom that observes this process thoroughly.

I look upon the future of Myanmar with great interest and hope that the more democratic government and the development of the country will increase the wealth of the people. It is a country with enormous social problems long hidden from the rest of the world, with tensions between government and rebel groups, as well as violence between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority. The problems cannot be overstated and improved ways of communication is a vital step for a better future.

Opa Gangnam Style Text & photos: Julia Sandén, SNU Korea

By the end of 2012 the song had topped music charts in more than 30 countries, been recognized by Guinness World Records as the most liked video ever on Youtube, and made its creator, Park Jae-sang, perhaps more known as Psy, a multi-millionaire. I think few have managed to miss the craze around the South Korean hit song Oopa Gangnam Style. But behind the catchy beat and the silly music video, the song might have a more serious message criticising the growing materialism of South Korea. I still remember my first night out in Seoul. Having only been in South Korea for a couple of days, everything was still very new, very exciting, and a bit scary to me. For the night I was hanging out with a Swedish girl, whom I had met at the airport just two days before, her Korean boyfriend and a couple of his friends. Four years earlier the girl had been in my situation, a Swedish exchange student in Seoul. Now she was coming back to the city, and this time maybe for good. We went to a small club in Hongdae (홍대), an area surrounding Hongik University, crammed with neon signs, and famous for its urban art, indie music and good nightlife. The music in the club was loud and the dance floor packed with Koreans. I think we might have been only westerners there. As a new song that I had never heard before started to play, one of the Koreans in our group poked for my attention. He was pointing towards the dance floor. There, in the middle of the room, all the people in the club had suddenly lined up. As the song picked up, the line of people simultaneously started to make the same silly dance moves. With crossed arms in front of their chests, jumping from side to side, the Koreans were performing the dance with total perfection. The whole dance floor was synchronized and everybody 8

Picture by Andre Wanner

seemed to know the song by heart, and everybody seemed to love it. This it soon turned out was my first meeting with the now globally recognized phenomenon Oopa Gangnam Style. I cannot count how many times I have heard the song after that, probably over a million times, and I have a hard time believing that the hype around Oopa Gangnam Style anywhere else in the world is even close to what we have experienced in Korea. The past year every club has been playing it, along with every store, every café and every restaurant. We have even had a seminar at

the university, analysing the song and its success. Psy, the artist behind the song, is on posters all over Seoul doing advertisement campaigns for everything from Kimchi (traditional Korean food) to cosmetics and cell phones. But behind the catchy beat and the silly dance moves the song might have a more serious message using satire to criticise modern values of the Korean society. The fast rise of the Korean economy during the last decades has enabled a new way of living for hundreds of thousands of people. The overall consumption has increased rapidly and the beauty industry has exploded. As a result, South Korea today has the highest number of plastic surgeries per capita, by far outnumbering both Brazil and the USA. This relatively new phenomenon is probably most obvious in Gangnam-gu (강남구), Seoul’s wealthiest district. The last couple of years the district has grown rapidly and the area is today one of the most modern in the country. Illuminated skyscrapers along with exclusive clothing stores and fancy cafes are characteristic features and the people on the streets are not shy about showing off their ability to afford the new expensive way of living. Today Gangnam-gu has more financial assets registered than Yeongdeungpo-gu (영등포구), which includes Yeouido (여의도), Seoul’s main business and investment banking district.

of view, this might not seem too controversial, but given the fact that coffee in South Korea is considered a luxury product with the same cost or more as a Korean meal, the line becomes more provocative. With the lyrics and the humoristic music video Psy thus seems to point out the superficiality of the luxurious “Gangnam style” with all its materialism and posh appearance, and how silly it is that this is what so many Koreans seem to wish for. With no exception, every Korean I have met so far loves the song, and Psy has become a national icon. The song is the first successful Korean music export to the US, and people seem to relate to the success as a source of national pride. Within Korea, Psy has brought something new to the otherwise homogenous pop music, performed by perfect looking artists, hardly anyone free from cosmetic surgery. Psy is not considered traditionally handsome, he is a bit old and a little overweight, and I think Koreans love him for that.

In Korean the term “oppan” (오빤) is a friendly and lovable expression used when a female refers to a male older than herself. By the term “Oopa Gangnam Style”, Psy is referring to himself, as “Big brother is Gangnam Style”. With an ironic tone he is describing himself as a guy drinking coffee by day and clubbing by night, looking for a girl who is able to do the same. From a Western point


Halong Bay - Three days in a Natural Wonder of the World

Text & photos: Lisa Barrehag, NCTU, Taiwan

Our boat leaves the harbor in the middle of the day. A small sea breeze is blowing and it is around 20 degrees, warm for us but by Vietnamese standard it is winter. The day is a bit foggy but we can feel some sunshine coming through, the last sunshine we will get for a couple of days. The weather during our trip will turn out to be even mistier but it does not matter, Halong Bay is said to be a magnificent place in sunny weather but it might be even more magical in the mist. Less than an hour after we embarked on the boat that was going to be our home for the next three days, we were right among the 1,969 islands that Halong Bay consists of. At first they appeared as grey shapes rising from the sea far away in the mist but as the boat approached them the picture changed. The bushes and trees clinging to the steep rocks of the islands became visible and one could easily make out the sharp knife-looking peaks of the islands. The water also changed around us and turned into an amazing emerald green color, reflected from the vegetation of the islands. For an hour or two we just sat back and relaxed while enjoying the environment but then it was time for our first stop on the trip. Floating Villages The boat stopped some hundred meters from the circa 30 cottages that made up the floating village, located below a steep and uninviting but beautiful island. Then we proceeded in small boats which were rowed by a couple of girls from the village, hired by the company we traveled with. We were told that this was one of very few ways, except fishing, for them to earn money and it soon became clear that they lived a very modest life in the floating village.


The houses were small and simple, built upon platforms that rested on big plastic drums floating on the water. In front of the houses drying clothes shared the space with hammocks and often also small kids. A couple of kids from different houses were teasing each other and screaming what sounded like insults, probably feeling safe by the water that separated the houses. Some of the older kids were seen rowing people between houses. There was a school building in the village but it had not been in use for a while since it is hard to find teachers that want to stay in the village for more than a year. Another problem is that only small kids can go to school, when they grow older they are supposed to help their families with fishing and other work. We were told that many of the people living in the floating villages of Halong Bay had come there fleeing from the wars ravaging Vietnam during the 20:th century. Today the government tries to make them move back to land where they can get a better life but they are very reluctant and still afraid of wars. Besides, if they moved back to land it might be hard for them to get a job and adapt to life there, since many of them were born in the floating villages and the fishing life there is all they know. Cat Ba Island The next day started with some swimming and kayaking among the islands. After that we set course for Cat Ba Island, the biggest island in Halong Bay. When we reached it we sat up on bicycles and continued our travel through the island by bike. The path went through beautiful scenery, like jungles and fields surrounded by high mountains. After a while we reached a little village with farms and fields and our guide told us that the vegetables that were served on the boat were harvested here. Many of the travel agencies operating in Halong Bay has started to take steps to preserve a good environment in the area and to serve locally produced food is one

of those steps. When bicycling through the fields it felt almost as if we had traveled back in time. The farmers were plowing the fields with the help of big oxen and at one point we passed a horse dragging a small wagon full of timber. After a while we sat down off our bikes and continued on foot through the jungle until we reached a cave. Northern Vietnamese soldiers had used this particular cave during the American War as a place to hide after they had set up traps on the island. We were told that there were also another cave on the island where civilians had hidden and not left until many years after the war was over. After leaving the cave, most of them had stayed on Cat Ba Island as farmers and still remained there today.

After spending some hours on the beautiful island it was time for us to head back to the boat for a delicious barbeque. Before going back to the port the next morning, we paid a visit to a very large and interesting cave, called the Surprise Cave. However, the cave was very crowded with tourists and we somewhat missed the calm and quiet of the more remote parts of Halong Bay. One of the things I will probably best remember from the days on the boat is the moments when we just sat back on our private balcony and relaxed. As the boat sailed through the bay it was very calming to gaze upon the breathtaking surroundings where hardly any sound could be heard except some birds and the faint sounds of the boat. I will remember this trip as relaxing as well as exciting and Halong Bay as one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.


Views from the streets of Tokyo

Japanese Youth Culture Text & photos: Johannes Schygge, NCTU, Taiwan.

Before going to Tokyo I had always expected Japan to be very different and that when I one day would arrive I would see people dressed up in costumes everywhere around me.This was not really the case and even though I saw some special outfits, the fashion of the year was clearly wearing a formal business suit. In Tokyo I felt like everything counted as business, and needed a proper suit and tie to be done. But even though the Japanese youth culture is not as strong as it may have been in the 1980s, there is still a lot of it to be found. The culture is made up of styles like “Japanese idol (aidoru)”, “Visual Kei”, “Lolita fashion” and activities like “Para Para” (synchronized group dance), “Cosplay” (costumes), “Otaku” (obsessive trends), “Gyaru” (childish image) and “Kawaii” (cuteness). One thing that summarizes many of these styles and activities is the childish image and being cute. It is something that has a prominent role in Japanese popular culture, entertainment, commercials, media, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance and behaviour and might have something to do with suppressed sexuality and a conservative society. 12

The styles of Japanese Idol and Visual Kei derive from this kind of thinking. Japanese idol are media personalities in their teens and early twenties who are considered particularly attractive or cute and who will for a period regularly appear in mass media. Besides being cute, idols present an image of purity, as defined by Japanese culture. Among other things, this means that idols must not have boyfriends or girlfriends and must appear to be entirely inexperienced romantically and sexually. The case is the same for the Visual key pop-group AKB48. The group has 88 members, ranging in age from 13 to mid-20s. The band is “produced” by Yasushi Akimoto and is one of the highest-earning musical acts in the world, with 2011 record sales of over US$ 200 million in Japan alone. It has achieved such popularity in Japan that it has been characterized as a social phenomenon. The Akimoto’s idea was to create a girl group that, unlike a regular pop group, would have its own theatre and perform there on a daily basis. This means that fans can always go and see the girls live. AKB48 is based on the “idols you can meet” concept and therefore they follow the same innocent image as idols. If an AKB48-girl misbehaves, they may be expelled from the group and when they get older new members replace them. Their style, visual kei, is characterized by the heavy use of make-up,

Views from the streets of Tokyo

elaborate hairstyles and flashy costumes. Another popular style is Lolita fashion. This style has many variants, but the most common are Gothic/Sweet/ Classic/Punk Lolita. Lolita fashion is based on Victorianera clothing as well as costumes from the Rococo period, and dressing up like this brings people with similar interests together during cosplay events and gatherings. Cosplay is short for “costume play” and is popular in Japan. Characters that people dress up as include figures from manga and anime, comic books, video games, and films. In Japan, Tokyo’s Harajuku district is the favourite informal gathering place to engage in cosplay in public. Here you can also find Rockabillies (Elvis dress-ups) and other kinds of performance artists. Since 1998, Tokyo’s Akihabara district contains a number of cosplay restaurants, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans, where the waitresses at such cafés dress as video game or anime characters. Maid cafés are particularly popular in Japan, and lets the customer play games with the waitresses for a higher-than-normal meal cost.

acter on it. However, it can also relate to a fan of any particular theme, topic, hobby or form of entertainment and can be applied to both males and females. We learnt in Japan that if you for instance join a juggling circle during your university years, you are unlikely to join other circles or have other hobbies during this time. Even though Tokyo was not entirely as I had expected, it sure was different! The 36 million people living in the capital area make up for an interesting environment, with an unusual culture that is only to be found there. A friend of mine once made the comparison of a dollhouse when referring to Tokyo. Within it I would not see myself as an innocent idol, so maybe I would have stuck to “being business”.

Being fully focused on a particular subject is being otaku. In modern Japanese slang, the term otaku is most often equivalent to being a geek. Mainly it occurs with anime and manga and the most extreme situation is falling in love with an object with the picture of a certain char13

Lantern Festival - The big snake of Hsinchu

Text & photos: Jesper Wallén, NCTU, Taiwan.

As the Chinese New Year celebrations come to an end, the cities and skies around Taiwan and China are lit up by thousands and thousands of lights. It is the Lantern Festival of course. On the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year people in Taiwan celebrate the Lantern Festival and together with the first full moon of the year the night is lit up like an American suburb around Christmas. There are many legends of how the celebration began, ranging from sixteen dragons to a magic crane from heaven and a new god to worship. One popular legend takes place in ancient China during the Han dynasty. The short version of the story is how the emperor’s advisor saves a woman, one of the emperor’s maids, from taking her life and let her be able to meet her family. He makes this possible by fooling the emperor to believe that the God of Fire will burn down the capital on the fifteenth of the first month of the lunar year. But he also


told the emperor that the God of Fire liked a special kind of sweet dumpling, lanterns and fireworks. Immediately the emperor orders everyone to make this sweet dumpling and set off fireworks so that the city would look like it was burning to make the god happy so he would not burn down the capital as told. It was during this time the woman would be able to meet her family and be happy again. However the emperor appreciated the day with all the lanterns and fireworks so much that he let it become a tradition, celebrated every year to come. Today the Lantern Festival is celebrated in the whole of Taiwan with different focus depending on if you’re in the southern or northern part of the country. In the southern parts the celebrations are louder with firecrackers and more fireworks. A very special event takes place at Yanshui, where they set off huge amounts of firecrackers right into a big crowd of people that comes to experience this strange event. The people wear multiple layers of clothes and motorcycle helmets to protect themselves. In the northern parts the focus is more on the lanterns. In the Pingxi district it is a tradition to write good

wishes on big sky lanterns and release them into the air where they light up the sky. But the biggest celebration of the Lantern Festival this year took place in Hsinchu around the area of the High Speed Train Station. Earlier the celebration took place in Taipei but since 2001 it has toured around to a different city each year. Thousands of lanterns in different shapes and size were on display for two weeks in a huge area that used to be an empty grass fields but was turned into a display area. A lot of preparations all year long had been made for this celebration. The effort from primary school children to professional lantern makers made the display possible. The creations range from traditional round red ones to sponsored lanterns featuring Angry Birds and Batman. The area was amazing to walk around in and to see the different lanterns made you almost felt like it was Christmas with all of the lights shining around you. However compared to Christmas there was so much more to see. The most impressive creation was the big snake in the central square. The snake had this central position and size to honour and symbolise the year of the snake that just had started. The highlight of the festival each night was a large display of fireworks, different performances by dancers and singers.

derstand where all of the lanterns came from and what they meant. However I was most impressed with how fast they built up the area and how huge it was. If I get the opportunity to visit another Lantern Festival another year I will definitely do that.

During my visit to the festival area one could really see how important it was for Hsinchu to host the Lantern Festival and how big of an event it is for the whole country. A reporter came up to me and asked questions about how tourists felt about the festival and the events. I never figured out which magazine or newspaper she worked for but somewhere there is a picture of me standing next to a big lantern. I said that: I really enjoyed the festival but it was a tad difficult for a foreigner to un-


Mountain Climbing in Japan for Dummies Text & photos: Julian Lindblad, Philip Irri, Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan

Situated at the border of the Filipino and Eurasian tectonic plates and right on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan has over a hundred active volcanoes and is exposed to both earthquakes and tsunamis. However, this has given rise to Japan’s many beautiful mountain chains as well as the relaxing water of its hot springs. Since 73% of Japan’s area is covered by mountainous regions and with almost 130 million inhabitants in a country smaller than Sweden, almost all flatlands have been cultivated and every city is surrounded by several mountains. It is no wonder that Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain with its 3776 meters has become a famous symbol of Japan. Many of the mountains have also become homes to spiritual seeking monks and priests that have founded temples on these rather inaccessible areas. Mountain climbing in Japan has become a way for people to take a break from the stressful city life. None of us had any real previous experience of mountain climbing and we wanted to start off easy. Mount Takao, located within an hour west of central Tokyo making it the closest one, is one of the most popular hiking spots in Japan. A temple close to the peak was built in the year 744 as a base for Buddhism in eastern Japan. With its 599 meter height, eight different hiking trails, and even ropeways that take 16

you half the way up, it is not difficult to understand why. Mount Takao really is for everyone, and if you go there you will not only see the common hiker. A not too uncommon sight is girls ascending Takao wearing high heels or parents hiking carrying their babies embedded in special backpacks. The peak is often really crowded, especially during weekends and national holidays, making it hard to find a place to eat your packed lunch. Another frequently visited mountain is Mount Mitake, which is located roughly one and a half hour west of Tokyo. What makes this mountain interesting is that a village is located just below its peak, and at the actual peak there is a shrine having been used for mountain worshipping for over a thousand years. This mountain also hosts a convenient way to ascend it via a cable car. The first two mountains we climbed were not particularly difficult ones. For the third mountain hike, we wanted it to be both higher than the previous two and a bit more inaccessible. Important to remember is that the weather gets both much colder and windier as the elevation increases. It is therefore crucial to bring clothes that both protect against the cold and the wind. It is also important to bring an extra set of clothes, which is good to have as it can get a bit sweaty when you climb mountains and may get you cold as it freezes. Next, since we knew the temperature would be zero or below, we needed to get crampons for our boots since it would be snowy and very icy on the top of the mountain. Finally, another must-have item for mountain climbing is headlamps, which we were told by a Japanese police officer at Mount Mitake. As the sun sets, it gets pitch

dark as there is no other light source. Both of us were planning to stay in Japan for Christmas and to make it a memorable one it was decided to be a good time for a third trip. We set out on Christmas Eve to climb the third and so far highest mountain, Mount Tanzawa. We started our journey early in the morning and after about a two-hour long train ride and fifteen minutes bus ride from Tokyo, we arrived at Ookura at the foot of the Tanzawa mountain chain. The plan was to climb two peaks during this daytrip; first Mount Tao-no-dake at 1491 meters elevation, and second Mount Tanzawa itself at 1567 meters. Energetic as we were, we started ascending the mountain at a good pace. Three hours later, after some stunning views over the coastline and horizon, we arrived a bit tired at the first peak, just to be greeted by our first snowflakes in Japan. Both on the way up to the peak and scattered all over the Tanzawa mountain chain are small huts that serves food and lodging for a small fee. One such was the conveniently located hut on Mount Tao-no-dake, which made a good spot for our first break. After buying one cup of hot green tea each, we could enjoy eating our packed lunch beside the warmth of the stove. With our stamina recovered, we continued the journey for our goal, the top of Mount Tanzawa. On this road, we experienced some of Japan’s wildlife and stunningly beautiful landscape and nature first hand. The ground was covered with green-yellow grass that gave a golden shine in the sunlight. Combined with a clear blue sky and bare snow covered trees made this place very surreal. Not very far from the path we could also see a wild harmless-looking deer grazing.

was also mentally tiring as every peak looked like it would be the last, but never was. The path also got rougher and rougher and at some passages we even had to climb using both hands and feet. The further we carried on, the fewer people we met, and we gradually started to think this decision was not such a good idea after all. Cold and exhausted, we finally reached our goal, Mount Hiru-ga-take, 1672 meters above sea level. After a short break but while still very tired, we realized that we had to start to go back if we were to descend the chain before the dark. The road back was like a nightmare. After we passed the hut on Mount Tao-no-dake, it started to get really dark and we equipped our headlights. From here on, the path would also go only downwards on a rough ground, putting a lot of strain on our knees. We also encountered more of the wildlife as we saw more deer. But this time just blocking the road and not as friendly-looking. After about five hours of descending from the highest peak, and two foot-sprain accidents later, the sight of flat ground and asphalt made us overfilled with joy. Even though this climb was very physically and mentally straining, it was still very memorable and we all plan to keep on climbing mountains in the near future. Before the season for Mount Fuji begins, there are still many other mountains to be conquered.

Inside the hut of Mount Tao-no-dake

Not before long, to our surprise, we arrived at the next peak and according to a blog-post, we traversed this path between the peaks faster than expected. Even though the author of the blog article warned us that undertaking the highest peak in the chain, Mount Hiru-ga-take, would be something only for those who are “a sucker for punishment”. Boosted by our previous achievement, we felt cocky and slightly overconfident, and decided without much thought that it was a splendid idea to ascend it. What we didn’t expect though, was that the road to this peak would have an exhaustingly amount of peaks and valleys. It 17

Tintin in Nepal Text: Rikard Andersson, Lars Lind, NTU Singapore Photo: Fredrik Brosser, NTU Singapore

A voice coming from the speaker suddenly wakes us.The voice has a very familiar sound to it: “This is the captain speaking...” One has to wonder if they are taught that way of speaking in flight school.The announcements made are also quite similar whomever you fly with and wherever you go.This message has a twist though. “We are approaching Kathmandu and estimate to be on the ground in about 20 minutes. If you look out the window on your right you can see the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest.” We are in luck; it is good weather and we are actually sitting on the right side of the airplane. There is something special about seeing Everest from the air - something mystical. Luckily this is not our last glimpse of Sagarmatha, which is the Nepali word for Mount Everest. We are on our way to Nepal to trek the Himalayas, unravel the mystery of the Yeti, catch a glimpse of the hopelessly rare snow leopard, and maybe ascend some never before visited summits of the roof of the world. Nepal is a poor but fascinating country, something that is made clear to us as we stroll down the streets of Kathmandu, along the piles of garbage on the mostly non-paved roads. For some of us, it is necessary to invest in new travelling gear to prepare for the much harsher and colder weather up in the mountains. When we are ready to depart from Kathmandu, we get a small shock as our agent, and “fix-it-all” guy, asks for an additional 10% service charge on top of our agreed price for the permits and tickets. It seems that being a tourist means you are never free from tricks and scams from the locals, especially in countries where every extra dollar is a small fortune. Realising our weak bargaining position, we pay the man in the bossy black leather jacket and are on our way. Next stop Lukla!


Not only do we get to see the highest mountain in the world, we also get to take a flight to the most dangerous airport in the world. This is the airport of Lukla; a small village located half an hour’s flight from the capital. Throughout the years a number of flight accidents have occurred here due to the short and sloping airstrip, foggy weather and the multitude of mountains surrounding the area. Needless to say, it is an uptight trip as we fly through the mountains in the small airplane, but it gives us plenty of photo opportunities of the beautiful nature. With a bang we with hit the ground in what can only be described in words as the roughest landing we have ever experienced. We have finally arrived in Lukla, our first destination of the trekking plan, happy over having survived the daunting flight. It is not long, however, before we come to the realisation that this was only the first of a two-way flight trip. We feel a bit unrest of the thought but put it aside. It is trekking time! Trekking in Nepal offers an opportunity to observe the local customs of the ethnic people in the mountain regions of Nepal. They are known as Sherpa and live a simple life with few modern technologies at their disposal. Transportation of goods through the mountain villages are done by hand, with the help of donkeys or the funny looking bovine creatures known as Yaks. Motorized vehicles are non-existent, the harvesting is done by hand, WiFi is scarce and weak at best and once the sun declines it is pitch dark. In that sense, it gives the feeling of travelling back in time. While these features contributes to an enlightening experience, the main feature of the Himalayas is the amazing scenery that surrounds you: Pine forests, rhododendrons, raging rivers, wobbling bridges, snowy mountain peaks, Buddhists inscriptions and eagles controlling the skies are all part of what makes the Himalayas an astonishing place to be a part of.You do not want to leave your camera at home. After a long day of walking, a hot shower and a nice warm bed is exactly what we need. Too bad, that is

not what we are going to get. The adventure continues through the night as we stay at establishments called teahouses where we get a bed between four plywood walls, a cold shower and no electricity. Suit up in your best “Sherpa Gear” thermal underwear, cover up in two to three layers of covers and blankets, and have your head torch readily available in case of invading Yetis or just a visit to the toilet during the night. However as much of a misery that this might sound like, when we sit around a fireplace fired up by yak-poo and is lovingly attended to by the family running the lodge, it adds up to a very authentic and enjoyable experience. On top of that, the food is delicious. The national dish, Dal Baht, is rice with lentil soup and vegetables. This sounds bland and boring but is actually very good and you always get seconds and thirds without asking. If you are lucky you can even add yak meat. (If you do not manage to indulge in any yak meat during your trek you can always head for Yakdonald’s in Lukla on your way back). The rooms are dirt cheap at around 1 USD per night.

While the food is a bit more expensive, it will hardly ruin someone who can afford the flight tickets to Lukla. The prices rise slightly as you get further away from the civilization. Note the word slightly, which is an accurate and astonishing description, considering that whatever you buy has literally been carried up there by someone. We conclude that the Sherpa we meet on the trails during our days, carrying as much as their backs can handle, are not well paid. It is hard to see the Sherpa living anywhere else than here. They have mountaineering in their blood and one of the first two humans to reach the top of Mount Everest was a Sherpa. The first successful ascent to the summit was made just before lunchtime 60 years ago, on May 29th, 1953. The ascent was made during a British expedition but it was New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa and Nepali national hero Tenzing Norgay who accomplished the feat. Hillary remained in Nepal for many years thereafter working for the wellbeing of the people of the Everest region. On our trek we cross


several monuments dedicated to Hillary for his relentless philanthropic work. Worth noting is that bodies found in 1999 indicates that another British expedition in 1924, almost 30 years before the one officially recorded as the first, might have been successful. However, both of the climbers making the attempt perished and no evidence can be found at the summit indicating that they made it. There is for that matter no photographic evidence that Hillary ever reached the summit that day in 1953 since Norgay had never before operated a camera and could not be taught how to do so on the summit of the world’s highest mountain. As we gaze upon the south face of the mountain we agree that if this event would qualify as top-10 missed Instagram opportunity of all times.

nately we will not be going there this time. We do not have enough time. It would take us around 20 days to get to the base camp. It is not so much the distance that hinders us but rather the sneaky altitude sickness. As a rule of thumb we are recommended to sleep no higher than 300 meters higher than the night before. The implications of not taking this issue seriously sound pretty dire so despite being very adventurous we decide not to take any risks. During our trek we dwell a few days around 4000 meters and make it to the base camp of Ama Dablam at 4600 meters but at this point we get severe headaches and are forced to descend. We are told that it is because the brain expands at the higher altitude and that the cranium is not big enough to hold such a swollen giant. We curse our genius brains and head back for Lukla.

It is the beginning of March and the spring season is just kicking off. Most of the trekkers we meet are on their way to Everest Base Camp, which is what we also want to be doing. Soon the expeditions to the top will begin. Several of the owners of the lodges we stay at have been guides to such expeditions and have stories to tell and pictures to back them up. We hear stories of a mysterious Italian research centre inside a glass pyramid that can be seen on the way. We hear that it is amazing. Unfortu-

When we sum up our ten days in the region we have failed to hunt down the yeti, did not get to meet any snow leopards and failed to climb the highest peak in the world. Instead we spent our time in the middle of some of the most amazing scenery available on planet earth, we shared the roads with yaks and donkeys, got to know the Sherpa culture, and walked in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary. So even though we never reached any summits we feel invigorated and enriched by this amazing experience, and as Sir Edmund said himself: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves�.




Text & photos: Alexander Fornell, NCTU Taiwan

When I first heard that Anna Forshufvud and Therese Tellstedt was in Hsinchu,Taiwan I was at first very surprised since even though it is a large city in Taiwan, it is still a large city in Taiwan. But then I learned that both of them are taking part in an internship organized by the UNITECH Programme at Evonik, a German chemical engineering company with R&D located in Hsinchu.

ees are former students at the local National Chiao Tung University. This congregation of high tech companies in Hsinchu have also led to the city inhabitants having the highest income per capita in Taiwan.

Anna and Therese are both students from Chalmers University in Gothenburg and they studied for their bachelor degree together at Industrial Engineering and Management. Since both of them had previously studied abroad they had decided that it was something that they wanted to pursue further. Both saw the UNITECH Programme as a good way to get more international experience as well as an opportunity to test the management skills learned at Chalmers. Curiously they were both unaware of that the other one had applied for an internship in Taiwan. This has later spawned a discussion between them, who was the first one to decide to go. But the ruling consensus among them is that is impossible to tell since the decision arose individually at around the same time anyway. During their time as interns at Evonik they have been involved in several projects in the company at different departments. They both felt that with the academic experience gained from Chalmers and UNITECH they were well prepared, but that one learns much faster when doing real projects. A typical project for them has involved doing patent analysis for Evonik or analysing IT-software. They have also participated in brainstorming sessions that the company holds to decide how to proceed with new projects. During these sessions all of the different departments at Evonik Advanced Project House come together in order for the new project to proceed as fast as possible. This means that while the research department are starting their part marketing is already up to speed and can begin doing their part. Evonik is one of the world’s largest chemical companies with revenues of 13 629 million euro in 2012 and more 33,000 employees worldwide. For example when a fire broke out in a plant producing cyclododecatriene (CDT), which is one of the components in laurolactam, a precursor to the polyamide PA12, the sudden shortage of CDT led to a global concern by car manufacturer since braking and fuel system depend on PA12.

UNITECH Programme If you are a civil engineer studying at Chalmers you can apply for the UNITECH Programme in which you have the opportunity to both study abroad and to do an internship.You will start with 6 months of studies at one of the eight European participating universities after which you can apply for an international internship which will last for at least 3 months. The programme is focused on preparing the students for an international career by combining technology, management and practical experience. Read more by googling for “UNITECH Chalmers�

The Taiwanese branch is located in the Hsinchu Science Park, which is home to many of the high-tech Taiwanese semiconductor companies. Much of life in Hsinchu revolves around the Science Park and many of the employ21

Politics in Taiwan Text & photos: Alexander Fornell & Viktor Mårdström, NCTU Taiwan

The advent of the Second World War temporarily unified the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against the Japanese occupation but merely a year after its conclusion the Chinese Civil war was raging again. During the civil war KMT received aid from the US but in 1949 this aid had ended and the KMT was forced to flee to the island of Taiwan south east of China. Historically both KMT and CCP have claimed greater China, ergo Mainland China and Taiwan, which has led to several skirmishes between China and Taiwan since 1949. However, as years have passed the split between the two states has become de facto permanent, something which has shaped the rather unique main political issue in Taiwan: Whether to officially continue to pursue a reunification of China or to promote the Taiwanese identity and eventually declare official independence. Origins of the Conflict In Chinese, Kuomintang (國民黨) literally means “nationalist party” and the divide between the KMT and the CCP was essentially a right-left ideological struggle. Because of this, the major political parties in Taiwan today are still fiercely anti-communist but the dominating issue is the question of whether to continue to pursue a oneChina policy or promote the Taiwanese identity. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China both Taiwan (Republic of China) and China have demanded that diplomatic ties can only be had with either of the two. In his book Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Frontline, Michael Szonyi describes how the split between Taiwan and China was made permanent by the Taiwanese Strait Crisis of 1958. During the crisis, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began bombardment of two islands located close to Mainland China but belonging to Taiwan. This was seen as a precursor to an invasion of the main Taiwan island but the US intervened by moving naval forces to aid Taiwan as well as protecting supply lines to the contested islands. This crisis can been seen as a continuation of the proxy-war between the US and the Soviet Union since China was equipped with the most modern soviet weaponry at the time such as the MiG-15 jet fighter while Taiwan wielded the US built F-86 Sabre. This state of hostility between China and Taiwan continued until 1979 when the US changed recognition from Taiwan to China, something most other nations of the world have since done. However when changing recognition the US also passed a law which stated that the US will protect and support the governing authorities on Taiwan. The relationship between China and Taiwan was “formalized” with the 1992 consensus in which both 22

sides stated that there is one China but with ambiguity regarding the ruler of it. Contemporary Views of the Conflict in Taiwan The two biggest parties in modern Taiwanese politics are the KMT and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who head the pan-blue and pan-green political alliances, respectively. The KMT ruled Taiwan as a single party state until the late 1980’s when the democratization of Taiwanese politics gave rise to a pluralist system. Today, the KMT still advocates re-unification of China under nationalist rule while the DPP wants Taiwan to eventually become an officially independent state. Due to Taiwan’s complex relation and economic dependence with its huge neighbor, this issue more or less completely dominates Taiwanese politics. The KMT can be considered as conservative by European standards and largely identifies with traditional Chinese culture and values as well as conservative economic policies. Although the party’s monopoly on power has been broken since Taiwan’s democratization, it arguably remains the most dominant force in the Taiwanese society and the current president of Taiwan, Ma Ying Jiu ( 馬英九), is the party chairman.

Ma Ying Jeou, Berkeley, 2006

Paradoxically, since the issue of independence angers Beijing more than anything else in its relation with Taiwan, the KMT has better relations with China which openly prefers it over the DPP. For example, in the weeks before the 1996 election Beijing tried to swing the election in favor of KMT by launching missile tests towards Taiwan. The Ma administration has devoted much energy over the last few years to deepen the economic ties to Beijing and to try to ease hostilities between the China and Taiwan. The KMT was not able to accommodate an interview for this article and seemed a

bit thrown off balance by our request, illustrating the to us quite strange notion that many Taiwanese find it peculiar that foreigners would take an interest in the politics of the nation. The DPP on the other hand, was able to offer an interview and we met with Hsieh Huai-Hui (謝壞慧), Deputy Director of the Department of International Affairs, at DPP headquarters. The DPP is usually described as centre-left and has traditionally been focused on human rights and the Taiwanese identity. The party traces its roots to the so called Dangwai (黨外) movement, meaning literally outside the party i.e. the KMT, which was a technically illegal amalgamation of elements of the Taiwanese society opposing the rule of the KMT prior to democratization. Mrs Hsieh emphasizes this part of the heritage of the DPP to be of vital importance, since much of the activism was focused on the discrimination against the various aboriginal and minority populations of Taiwan.

was gradually opening up to the outside world and was rather dependent on the much more developed economy of Taiwan. Today, Taiwan’s economy is dwarfed by that of China and fears are emerging that the increasing dependency of the Taiwanese economy on the Chinese will eventually make it difficult for Taiwan to assert its sovereignty. Other than the increasing economic ties, one also have to account for the continuation of the Chinese military buildup targeted against Taiwan consisting of missiles and amphibious vessels. However, there is of course a high degree of uncertainty in any predictions regarding the future of Taiwan since it depends so much on what stance the US would take if Taiwan’s sovereignty was threatened.

The party still pushes for further democratization on a number of issues and Mrs Hsieh generally paints the picture of the party as being progressive liberal in most of its positions. Recently, the DPP has also engaged itself in the nascent grassroots movement against nuclear power in Taiwan and has adopted an environmentalist position on certain issues. Mrs Hsieh sees national security and sovereignty as the most pressing concerns for Taiwan moving forward and is generally concerned about Beijing becoming increasingly belligerent towards those in Taiwan that are worried about China’s influence. The DPP still forally strives to declare Taiwan an independent state although she somewhat reluctantly agrees that it is difficult to see that happening in the near future. She also hopes that a more normalized relation with China might encourage a move away from the current state of Taiwanese politics where this issue defines the entire political landscape and towards one with a more traditional left and right scale. What Does the Future Hold? As European exchange students interested in politics, we find the dynamics of the Taiwanese political discourse are fascinating because they differ so poignantly from the left-right political landscape that we are more accustomed to. It also raises the interesting question of how national identity is shaped when the over-shadowing political issue is more or less out of the control of national politics. If one want to predict the future of the relationship between Taiwan and China it is in our view clear that the current path will most likely lead to a fait accompli situation in which Taiwan has little choice but to be incorporated into China. Just two decades ago China

Mao, Hurley and Chiang



In Sweden

Swedish Exchange Text & photos: Ted Cheng Yang, 楊之誠 KTH Sweden.

“Do you want to live in Sweden?” ”Why would I? Why not Germany?” That is what I would have answered two years ago. I have never thought of living in Sweden as an exchange student before. I was seeking an exchange opportunity in Germany since my major is transportation and Germany is quite a technologically advanced country. I have learned German for a few years and I thought I was ready for Germany. However, I was very disappointed that there was no university, which both has a transportation department and a contract with my home university. I had only three options, KTH in Stockholm, Sweden, LIU in Linköping, Sweden and DTU in Copenhagen, Denmark. I had to choose between them and I knew nearly nothing about the university and the city. At the end, I decided to go to Stockholm, Sweden since there is a good subway system and since KTH has the word ”Kungliga” in its name, which means royal, the university should be great, right? So the reason why I became an exchange student in Stockholm is just like an unexpected mistake. However, it turned out that it was a blessing from God.

when it is snowing, of course it is cold outside but you do not stay out door so often, do you? There is heating in every house and shops so if you feel cold, just do what the Swedes would do, find a coffee shop and have some “kanelbullar” (cinnamon buns). I would sometimes wear shorts in my room so I do not think it is that cold from a local perspective. In Taiwan, it is not always cold during the winter but when there is a cold front, you cannot escape from it since we do not have heating at home or in the classroom. It is pretty hard to write notes when your hands are icy. However, I do have to admit that the short daytime in Sweden is sometimes frustrating since the sunset is around 2:30 p.m. I sometimes would make fun of that to my friends in Taiwan “You know; I study very hard because I go to the university before sunrise and leave after sunset.” To me, Sweden is a geographically very big country since it is the third biggest country in Europe. It is twelve times bigger than Taiwan! However, the Swedes always consider Sweden a small country since the population is only nine million. Because of that, the kids in Sweden start to learn English at a very young age. Almost everyone can speak English in Sweden so basically I did not really need to learn Swedish to survive. All I have to do was just to ask in English. If you find someone in Stockholm who cannot speak English, you should probably buy a lottery ticket. Maybe that is why I still cannot speak good Swedish?

As soon as I arrived in Stockholm, I was impressed by how long the daytime was. I grew up on a tropical island on which the sunrise and sunset always come between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. I could not imagine why it was still bright out there after 9 p.m. The sunshine also feels different, it is warm rather than burning and the breeze is cool. It is just like the perfect weather. On the other hand, many people believe that the winter in Northern Europe is So how was the education system in Sweden? More than deadly cold, but is that true? In my opinion, NO! I mean, great I would say. At KTH, they treat you like an adult.


You do not have to go to the class if you do not want to or you need to do something else. The discussion between the professor and the students were great. I got the chance to ask a lot of questions. We can share our own ideas and learn from others. The classmates will not laugh at you if your idea is unrestrained, they respect you anyway. I was asked to do a lot of projects but I could put all of my ideas in them.The answers of them were not just right or wrong. Everything can be possible. I learned how to apply them into real life since the projects sometimes are based on the real task. I learned how to apply what I learned at KTH.

ing a homosexual is just like everyone else. If you take a closer look, the people who take part in the pride comes in all kinds of professions such as police, military, doctor etc. They do not tend to hide in the closet, instead they show the world who they really are. They made the pride so colourful, and it is not inferior in any respect than the national holiday of Sweden. I would say it is probably one of the annual must-sees in Stockholm. “Do you want to live in Sweden?” ”When does the next flight to Stockholm depart?” That’s how I would answer if you ask me the same question again right now.

As some of you already know, Taiwan is flooded with motorbikes. It is true that it is really convenient but it also causes a lot of traffic accidents and air pollution. It is amazing that more than 80 % of the “nollåttor” (citizens in Stockholm) commuters use subway during the rush hour. Using public transportation is just a part of the Swedes life. Every city or village has their own bus service and they are mostly on time and reliable! You can even go online and check if the buses are delayed or not. I can still remember that one time when we visited the mayor of Norrköping on a school visit, he told us that even though he is already more than 40, he and his wife still do not have a driver’s license. In fact, lots of “nollåttor” do not have a driver’s license and they do not tend to get one. One of the Swedish spirits lies in respect and equality. It seems that the word prejudice does not exist in Swedish. They do not really care where you come from, if you are rich or poor or who you love. Being the seventh country to allow gay marriage, the majority of Swedish support equality. Starting from 1998, Stockholm Pride is one of the most famous gay parades in the world. In fact, many parents will take their kids to the pride parade. This is how the Swedes teach their kid that it takes all sorts of people to make a world. The kids would know that be25

Unstable Japan

How Japan is Prepared for Earthquakes Text & photos: ,Joanna Broniewicz, Tokyo Institute of Technology.

In March 2011 the fifth biggest earthquake in world history hit Japan. The earthquake had a magnitude of 9.03 and caused 16 000 deaths as well as 380 000 totally or partly collapsed buildings. With approximately 1 500 earthquakes hitting Japan every year, earthquakes are a big part of the Japanese society. Japan accounts for about 20 % of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater. The reason for so many big earthquakes hitting Japan is its specific position along the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a 40 km long area associated with oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, volcanic belts and plate movements. The Ring of Fire is a result from plate tectonics and the movement and collisions of lithospheric plates making it an area of high volcanic and seismic activity. Aside from earthquakes, the Ring of Fire also causes volcanoes, the biggest one in Japan being Mt. Fuji. Since earthquakes are a part of the daily life in Japan but at the same time are very unpredictable and can have disastrous outcomes, being prepared for an earthquake is very important. The preparations for earthquakes take various forms and to notice them you actually do not have to be a Japanese citizen, as a tourist you only have to be a little observant. When I first arrived in Tokyo I noticed that most of the tall houses had small gaps in between them. I did not understand what this was for but later realised that it was for protecting the houses during earthquakes. In case of a big earthquake much tension arises in a tall and wide house and can make it collapse. In a narrow house the amount of tension that can arise is much lower and therefore also the risk for the house to collapse. There are of course houses that are both tall and wide but they are often built with special techniques, as e.g. with springs, to protect them for cracking and collapsing. Another reason for the gaps is to prevent the spread of fire. Often it is not the collapsing of buildings that is the main reason for damage and people being killed but the spread of fire, which often occurs after an earthquake. The Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 hit during lunchtime, when people were cooking meals over fire, and caused fire storms sweeping across cities for almost two days, destroying 447 000 buildings and killing 140 000 people. Prevention of fire can also be seen on some stoves, as the ones in the dormitory where I live. To use the stove you first have to push a button to turn on the electricity and then another one to turn on the plate. 26

Narrow house in Tokyo.

Walking in smaller neighbourhoods with regular houses one can notice stashes of water bottles in garages or just outside the houses. These are stored if an earthquake would cause the water pipes to break and there would be a lack of water. Some friends of mine met a Japanese girl who had to stay at a love hotel (a short-stay hotel for couples who want privacy for “adult activities�) with her family for a couple of nights after the earthquake in 2011 because they had no water in their house and regular hotels were either full or closed. Electricity might also be out after an earthquake and it can therefore be good to have a flashlight. At a hotel I was staying there was a flashlight attached to the desk in my room and when detached it was automatically lit.

Something rather easy to notice when visiting Japan is that many cars are parked backwards. Here the angled parking lots are turned the opposite way in order to make it easier to back in. This may feel a little strange, as it is easier to back out of parking lots than backing into it since you usually have more space outside the parking lot. However, in a country with earthquakes you might want to be able to escape quickly as houses collapsing and tsunamis may follow an earthquake.

mine mostly because it feels better than if it is empty.

What might be more difficult to spot as a tourist but is still very interesting are the survival backpacks. These are backpacks in which you should store different survival items in case there would be an earthquake and you have nothing to eat or in worst-case if you get trapped somewhere and cannot get out. In my dormitory every room is equipped with a backpack that contains a flashlight and that you are supposed to fill with survival things, foremost food. I have put a bottle of water and some can food in

While there are a lot of preparations for earthquakes, most of it is for the big ones that do not happen very often. During the half-year that I have lived in Japan I have experienced about ten earthquakes out of which two were felt as a little shake and the others as an almost unnoticeable tremble. So if you are thinking about going to Japan do not be scared away by all the earthquakes, instead see it as an interesting part of the Japanese society.

If you are more serious though, it should contain food for 30 days and survival items as gloves (for digging), slippers (if you don’t have shoes on when the earthquake hits and there is glass shattered on the ground), napkins, a towel, candles, matches, pen, paper, underwear etc. Although this is a recommendation I do not think that many Japanese have a fully equipped backpack ready in their homes.

Stash of waterbottles.

Items recommended to have in your survival backpack.


asia Taiwan


Text & photos: Johannes Schygge, Alexander Fornell,Viktor Mårdström, NCTU Taiwan

Gōngbǎo Jīdīng (宮保雞) This dish is a traditional Chinese dish originating from the Sichuan province in central China. Consisting of spicy stir-fried chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chilli-peppers it is a common occurrence in so called “beer houses” (round table restaurants) in Taiwan. One does not have to wonder long for why it is popular in beer houses, since it is one of the more spicy dishes that are to be found in Taiwan and coupled with a Taiwan beer it is this author’s favourite dish in Asia. The dish is believed to be named after Ding Baozhen, a late Qing Dynasty official who held the title Gong Bao (Chinese: 宮保; pinyin: Gōng Bǎo; literally "palatial guardian")

台灣的火鍋 (Huo Guo) Taiwanese Hot Pot The hot pot is common to many different East Asian countries and popular in Taiwan during winter due to the warming properties of the dish. The pot itself is typically put in a stove sunken into the dining table, or placed on a movable gas stove as in the picture. Water, a soup base or a meat based bouillon is poured into the pot which is then continuously heated for the duration of the meal. While the hot pot is gathering heat raw vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes etc are put into the pot. The vegetables need more time than the meat to become thoroughly cooked and are therefore allowed about 10 minutes to warm up. At that point, the hot pot should have reached maximum heat and thin slices of various types of meat are put into the pot. The meat should be kept in the pot for about 20 seconds per piece and can then be brought out together with some of the vegetables. The result is usually a wonderfully juicy mix of meat and salad, which is typically dipped in some sort of sautée or dipping sauce. The Taiwanese dipping sauce is a unique feature, being commonly made of shacha sauce and raw egg yolk. The hot pot is sometimes referred to as shabu shabu in Taiwan, because of the historic influence from Japan. As a Swede coming to Taiwan, a hot pot dinner is great because it combines the advantage of a very social meal that is typical of the culture with an experience that can perhaps best be described as that of barbecuing, since you’re constantly tending to your food. As a dish, the hot pot is sometimes said to be similar to a western stew, although I can safely say that I’ve never had a stew as good as this in Sweden. Teppanyaki Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food. The teppanyaki-style was introduced with the concept of cooking Western-influenced food on an iron plate in Japan in 1945. They soon found the cuisine was very popular with foreigners, who enjoyed both watching the skilled manoeuvres of the chefs preparing the food as well as the cuisine itself, which is somewhat more familiar than more traditional Japanese dishes. Some typical ingredients that you can enjoy when eating teppanyaki are beef, lamb, pork, fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster, chicken and assorted vegetables. 28

CITO 10 year Anniversary Text & photos: Johannes Schygge, NCTU, Taiwan

The 10-year anniversary of Chalmers International Taiwan Office (CITO) was celebrated on April 12th with invited guests from Chalmers University, National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), CITO’s alumni, NCTU Europe Office’s alumni and Swedish companies in Taiwan. It was a rather large event with not only a banquet but also conferences and other meetings. These meetings were between Chalmers and NCTU, discussing the international cooperation, joint research, double doctoral degrees and future projects. The actual ceremony started in the afternoon at 17.30 with a gathering in the Chalmers International Taiwan Office. There the musicians Wang Hung Wei and Lin Xun Yi played traditional Taiwanese instruments to get the participants into the right feeling. Fruit punch, salmon canapés and other snacks were served as the guests socialized and looked at pictures taken by CITO members of the past 10 years. At 18.20 the 55 guests were off to the Sheraton Hotel in Zhubei where the dinner would take place. A signing ceremony, with the university presidents Prof. Karin Markides and Dr. Wu Yan-Hwa Lee, was the first happening at Sheraton. The signed documents were renewed contracts of the successful partnership between the universities, and after they had been signed and the

presidents had held their speeches, beautiful glass sculptures were exchanged between the presidents as gifts. The first two Taiwanese NCTU-Chalmers double doctoral degree students were also honored by receiving their certificates directly from the presidents. The seven course dinner commenced shortly thereafter with a packed schedule of songs, speeches, videos and other entertainment. The dinner speeches were performed by Van Hoang (CITO 2003-2004), Jia-Kai Jhou (NCTU Europe Office 2010-2011), Henrik Byström (Representative for Swedish Trade in early CITO years) and Jörgen Sjöberg (Senior Advisor, Chalmers). These speeches highlighted important events, memories and feelings which made the dinner something truly special. A congratulatory video was also shown, made by the NCTU Europe Office in Chalmers. Their office will celebrate their 10 year anniversary in the coming academic year. After the dinner there was more time to socialize and talk to guests from other tables. An anniversary cake arrived and after enjoying that and some good company, the guests later returned home after a great evening.


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Chalmers International Taiwan Office

– Part of Chalmers’ World Wide Exchange Programme The economies in East Asia have showed a remarkable devel- Parallel to the studies at NCTU the students maintain the Chalopment during the end of the 20th century. Japan has become mers International Taiwan Office, CITO. The work at CITO inaccompanied by China among the world’s economic giants. The cludes arranging representation events for Taiwanese students region is interesting, dynamic and challenging. Among those with at NCTU as well as visiting companies and representing Chalmtechnical education, an increasing portion will have contacts in ers throughout East Asia. the whole region from Singapore to Japan within their profes-

sions. With this in mind, Chalmers has developed a special ex- Contents of the Programme: change programme based in Taiwan, giving students an oppor- – Intensive course in Mandarin, 6 weeks in July - August at tunity to study in and gain experiences from these economies.

NCTU in Hisnchu, Taiwan. – Full academic year of engineering or architect studies at

The exchange programme is located at the National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), which is the foremost technological university in Taiwan. NCTU is specially profiled within electronics and information technology. However, in cooperation with the

NCTU. – Maintenance of the Chalmers International Taiwan Office at NCTU.

neighbouring National Tsing Hua University, the exchange cov- – Company visits throughout East Asia. ers all engineering programmes at Chalmers. Courses held in both English and Mandarin can be chosen.

For more information on how to apply, please visit

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 Seoul, South Korea Konkuk University Beijing, China Tsinghua University Shanghai, China East China University of Science and Technology Tongji University Hsinchu, Taiwan National Chiao Tung University Hong Kong, China The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology City University of Honk Kong

Singapore Nanyang Technological University The National University of Singapore

Chalmers University of Technology

SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden Phone +46 31 772 1000

Asia Magazine #21  
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