Embracing Taiwan:Southeast-Asian TV Teams Take a New Look at Formosa
Esther Tseng /photo byJimmy Lin /tr. byJonathan Barnard
The Department of International Information Services (DIIS) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently worked with broadcasters from the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Thailand to produce travel programming in different languages under the title Embracing Taiwan. The production teams included many frequent visitors who had previously created travel programs about the island. But this time around they discovered that Taiwan has much more to offer than just Taipei 101, the National Palace Museum and night markets. It also has powerful smart technology, an outstanding and friendly educational environment for overseas students, and beautiful and sustainably managed mountains and forests.
The Indian host Shamoly Khera (photo by Jimmy Lin)
Embracing Taiwan was broadcast during the first two weeks of November in four nations. Unlike previous occasions when government agencies suggested the old standbys of Taipei 101, the NPM and night markets, the DIIS this time considered the unique national character and preferences of their visitors so as to focus on connections between Taiwan and the individual nations. It was a more in-depth approach toward discovering Taiwan.
A production team from CNN PH in the Philippines film their hosts trying gourmet food at a no-menu restaurant.
Animated and enthusiastic, the Philippines hosts Rovilson Fernandez and Valerie Tan have great chemistry.
Green agriculture, sustainable beauty
CNN PH from the Philippines brought three cameras and a nine-member production team to Taiwan at the end of August. Among them were Rovilson Fernandez, the host of the popular variety show Ang Pinaka, and Valerie Tan, a famous blogger and Internet influencer, who have marvelous chemistry and are both great singers and dancers.
They first went to Taiwan Sugar’s organic farm in Tainan’s Guantian District, where they put on farming clothes and spread fertilizer made from sugarcane bagasse and rice hulls as they introduced Taiwan’s chemical-free organic vegetables, and the aims of organic farming in raising soil fertility and protecting nature.
The production team then went to Yilan County’s Dongshan River Forest Park, where they boarded a small boat to experience the river and the poetic scenes of little egrets and Daurian redstarts prancing unhurriedly on sandbars amid a misty rain. They thus came to understand Taiwan’s emphasis on environmental education and its determination to restore the natural environment.
Fernandez is full of vitality and passion. While strolling the old streets of Nanzhuang in Miaoli County, he showed a charming approachableness and sense of humor, telling food stall proprietors that he was famous in the Philippines and engaging in a little self-promotion by advising them to put up his photo to attract customers.
Tan, who is of Chinese descent and has the Chinese name Chen Yuyun, speaks pretty good Mandarin. She and Fernandez have come to Taiwan many times, and they’ve both made programs introducing Taiwan. She says, “This time while making Embracing Taiwan, I went to an organic farm in Guantian, and visited the small town of Nanzhuang. I was delighted to find that even in the countryside, the streets were clean. The Taiwanese people are really orderly and polite!”
A Vietnamese Internet influencer, Quang Vinh looks at the camera as he introduces Asia’s only robotics industry “tourist factory.” Behind him is a lion-dancer robot.
Host Quang Vinh went to the Hutoushan Innovation Hub to experience Taiwan’s driverless vehicle technology.
The Philippines production team went to the National Space Organization, introducing Formosat-5, a satellite that Taiwan developed itself, and Formosat-7, a satellite designed to record climate data that was launched in June of 2019. They amply demonstrated Taiwan’s powers in space R&D.
The group from HTV, the biggest television channel in Vietnam, likewise gained a sense of Taiwan’s technological prowess. Its eight-person team visited the Sha Yang Ye Robot Wonderland, Asia’s only interactive museum or “tourist factory” devoted to robots and robotics, in Taoyuan. Sha Yang Ye Industrial, whose headquarters is adjacent to the museum, is the world’s largest producer of gear motors. In 2005 the company entered the realm of smart manufacturing. Its museum displays more than 30 robots, including robots that welcome guests, “Third Prince” Taoist deity robots that sway in time to temple music, and a first-responder robot that runs on caterpillar tracks. When the host Quang Vinh (Chinese name Chen Guangrong), a former singing star who has been described as Vietnam’s answer to the Taiwanese boy band F4, took the controls of a fighting robot, he quickly became engrossed with battling another robot.
Quang Vinh’s team next went to the Hutoushan Innovation Hub, also in Taoyuan, where he rode in a driverless vehicle and went to the control room to try the self-driving simulation training system. The segment demonstrated how the “5+2 Innovative Industries Initiative” brings together artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and related technologies to develop self-driving vehicles, cybersecurity applications, and other powerful technologies.
The tight itineraries left no time for breaks: After visiting Hualien, with its glistening yellow sea of day lilies on 60 Stone Mountain and its boundless azure views from Qingshui Cliff, Quang Vinh then hurried back to Taipei to ride a Gogoro electric scooter and a YouBike in the city’s Ximending neighborhood. After showing how a single IC card makes it so easy to ride mass transit and make purchases, he then donned a surgical gown to observe surgery at National Taiwan University Hospital. With the da Vinci Surgical System, surgeons used robotic arms to perform gynecological surgery. The advantages include small incisions, minimal bleeding and shortened hospital stays.
The team from Vietnam chose to capture the beauty of Taiwan by shooting amid fields of day lilies on 60 Stone Mountain. (courtesy of Creation Co.)
The team from India visited the black tea plantations of Hugosum at Sun Moon Lake. (courtesy of Creation Co.)
A great place to study
With his beautiful singing voice and friendly, unpretentious manner, Quang Vinh was swarmed by fans when he visited Minghsin University of Science and Technology. Students and faculty from Vietnam couldn’t believe that they were seeing a star from back home at their university campus in Taiwan. They jockeyed for position to get a photo or selfie with him. “Seeing so many Vietnamese who have studied in Taiwan and then stayed on to make successes of themselves, I felt honored myself,” he says.
Minghsin has more than 1200 students from Southeast Asia, and the university’s president, Lin Chii-ruey, believes that education has no borders. With these students willing to study hard and overcome language barriers, Minghsin has educated many outstanding and talented young people who possess great international mobility.
Taiwan’s successful and innovative research environment for semiconductors has attracted Indian students to study here, so the planners arranged for a group from Zee TV, India’s largest television station, to interview some Indian students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs at Tsinghua University, including Manoj Kriplani, who works in tech. They also interviewed Mayur Srivastava, an Indian chef working in Taiwan. In their own words, they recommended Taiwan as an outstanding place for overseas study and employment.
Manoj Kriplani won a scholarship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to study in Taiwan. Upon graduating, he immediately got a job at ASRock, a motherboard company. Now he is at Century Development Corporation, helping the Taiwan‡India Business Association open up the Indian market. Speaking in his native Hindi, Kriplani uttered high praise for Taiwan to the Indian filming team: “In 2019, InterNations, the world’s biggest Internet expat site, ranked Taiwan as the best place to live and work as an expat because Taiwan is safe, convenient, and relaxed. Moreover, the Nangang Software Park, where I work, is accessible by metro, regular rail and high-speed rail. What’s more, when I first arrived in Taiwan, the number of Bollywood dance clubs in Taiwan numbered in the single digits, whereas now there are more than 30. Indian restaurants have become quite common as well.”
The host of the famous show The Great Indian Global Kitchen, Shamoly Khera, is an out-and-out gourmet. When she tasted Sun Moon Lake black tea, she described it as fresh, clean and lively, and she also gave a thumbs up to the Ganquan Fish Noodles noodle shop chain, as well as the gua bao pork-belly buns of Nantou.
The Indian host Shamoly Khera interviewed Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu.
Thai TV host Khemanit Jamikorn gets a taste of Taiwanese tea culture.
Taiwan-India exchanges at 50-year peak
Suave, pretty and talented, Khera interviewed Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu at the Taipei Guest House. She specially raised the question of what can entice Indians to come to invest or travel in Taiwan. Wu said that according to Forbes magazine, Taiwan is one of the top 15 safest places in the world, joined only by Singapore and Japan in Asia.
Wu cited numbers to emphasize the growing ties between Taiwan and India: “In 2018 ROC investment in India reached US$306 million, which is equivalent to half of the cumulative total for the past 50 years…. In 2018, there were nearly 2500 students from India studying here, a 56% increase from 2017…. Taiwan and India have agreements covering a wide variety of sectors, including transportation, agriculture, and trade. [Connections] will only deepen in the coming years, as we look to sign further agreements in areas such as tourism and cultural exchange.”
Thailand’s Khemanit Jamikorn explained to her viewers the emphasis that Taiwan is placing on its strengths in innovation, crafts and design.
Cultural exchange, seeing Taiwan
Coming with a production team from CH5, which is Thailand’s most popular general-interest channel, Thai TV actress, singer and model Khemanit Jamikorn (better known as Pancake) has many fervent fans, including those who belong to the Pancake Khemanit Fan Club in Taiwan. Visiting the SL Towel Tourism and Explore Factory in Yunlin County, she placed a NT$20,000 order of towels to give as gifts to her fans.
Thailand is famous for its handicrafts and design prowess, so the trip organizers arranged for Jamikorn to visit the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei, which is well known for its innovative cultural products made by Taiwan brands.
The Songshan Cultural and Creative Park worked with Thailand’s Creative Economy Agency to put on “Material in Motion: Tai‡Thai Design Exhibition.” And in October they brought 12 Taiwanese brands to the Style Bangkok Fair, Asia’s most important design industry event, exploring opportunities for cooperation with the ASEAN market and directing Taiwan’s outstanding cultural soft power toward foreign markets. The goal was to give the international community a look at the rich energy of Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries.
CH5 producer Ann Krissananan says, “Thailand today is an economically developed nation with growing incomes, and Taiwan has become one of the main destinations for Thais who travel abroad.” Similar points were made by each of the four nations’ television production teams. Whether they were witnessing the energy of Taiwan’s scientific and technological development, experiencing the richness of the island’s traditional culture, or tasting its varied gourmet cuisine, their shared conclusion was: Don’t miss a chance to come to Taiwan!
Retrieve from Taiwan Panorama