In Southeast Asia, the deafening sound of road construction work reflects the fierce competition among China, Japan and South Korea for lucrative infrastructure projects. But in stores and shopping malls, the sound of Alipay transactions indicates China’s even-greater ambition to establish its home-grown mobile financial services abroad.
Though Japan, South Korea and China are battling it out for overall economic influence in the Greater Mekong region, Beijing is on the way to winning the fight at the microeconomic level, as these three stories from the Thailand-Laos border show.
This cloud-based healthcare system, which is set to expand to hospitals throughout Thailand, made it to the ASEAN market after a detour in Africa provided valuable lessons on localization and customization.
A Taiwanese leasing company had the highest asset growth of any leasing firm in Vietnam in 2016, topping more established rivals. To achieve the feat, it adopted a strategy that could guide other Taiwanese businesses eager to shine in the region.
Taiwan’s universities compete with other Asian universities for students from Southeast Asia. Some use scholarships; others their reputation. Meiho University possesses neither money nor fame, yet its cooperation program with a Vietnamese university is successfully attracting students.
Taiwanese writer Lu Ping, who served for seven years as director of the Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center, Taiwan's cultural window in Hong Kong, comments on the former British colony’s first female chief executive.
China and the United States are battling for influence in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. Sandwiched between the two, Singapore has kept its distance from both superpowers while fighting to stay competitive amid external threats.
Singapore’s strong economy and social stability have fuel the city-state’s rise as ASEAN’s most advanced country. But as activist and sociologist Daniel Goh explains, political liberalization is now needed to deliver the innovation economy Singapore wants.
Fair trade starts at the source. That’s why the Japan-born fair trade label People Tree set out to transform the fashion supply chain, making Japanese society realize that buying organic, fairly traded garments brings more joy than pursuing the latest fashion craze.
Instead of chasing short-lived western trends, Japanese consumers are seeking a better quality lifestyle rooted in local culture. In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and amid a prolonged recession, the Japanese have rediscovered the virtue of slowing down and returning to the basics.
Fanatical young Shanghainese are bringing the world to Shanghai, from as far afield as Europe and America, and as nearby as Taiwan, carrying their cultural momentum forward, reproducing, tweaking and surpassing it… with the goal of taking Chinese design to the world.
Instead of looking for a job in Taiwan upon graduation, Justin Lee, a nutritionist by training, sought a more adventurous life in the Philippines to sell aquaculture feeds. Banker Alex Soung, who has worked and lived in Vietnam for 12 years, has used his language skills to become a sought-after foreign expert in the local banking industry.
Southeast Asia has rarely been considered by Taiwanese students as a place to get a degree or learn a skill, but many of them are finding out that studying there can open a wealth of opportunities and contacts. Three of them tell CommonWealth about their experiences.
Audrey Tang will soon become Taiwan’s youngest Cabinet minister when she starts as minister without portfolio on Oct. 1 to lead open government initiatives. Describing herself as a “connector,” she is uniquely qualified to play this role. Here’s her story.
Hon Hai Precision Industry, the world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer, is close to acquiring Sharp of Japan. What is behind Hon Hai’s willingness to risk it all financially to take over the venerated but money-losing Japanese electronics giant?
Investment in Cambodia from Taiwan, Japan, China and Korea has poured into Phnom Penh real estate market, chasing after returns of more than 7 percent. But while Cambodia may resemble a speculator’s paradise, would-be investors should tread carefully.
Five years ago when Myanmar opened its doors, optimism prevailed. Now, ahead of the country’s first real democratic elections, the mood has turned cautious. Seven professionals there look at where Myanmar has been and where it’s going.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo heads the largest archipelago in the world. The country’s vast ocean area, dotted with thousands of islands, is an asset but also often hampers development. Jokowi, the country’s first president without ties to the political elite or the military establishment, is determined to turn Indonesia into a maritime power.
The Taiwanese company DDK Group, one of the world’s 10 biggest manufacturers of high-end bicycle saddles, lost its entire 18,000 square meter facility in anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam last May. Yet, despite the outrage and devastating losses, it has decided to stay. Why?
Vietnam has aggressively engaged in economic reforms and liberalization to prepare for its membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and move its economy up the value chain. What new opportunities does that offer Taiwanese businesses?
2015 was supposed to mark the completion of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Instead, the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are facing their toughest challenge in two decades as weakening national currencies and dropping raw material prices jeopardize ASEAN’s economic take-off.
Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia and a predominantly Muslim nation sandwiched between Europe, Russia and China, has unveiled an economic policy to overhaul the country's transport infrastructure in the face of China's One Belt, One Road initiative.
Taiwan produces relative few coffee beans, but it is a prime destination when Asians want to open cafés, roast good coffee, or grow premium beans. How has Taiwan gained renown as a premium coffee hub in such a short time?
Dang thi phuong lan, who is preparing to return to her native Vietnam after working for the same family for eleven years, recalls the highs and lows of her time in Taiwan, and how she came to see it as her home away from home.
For many, the changing face of Taiwan's families can make family reunions over the Lunar New Year holiday difficult. But in this changing world, it may be finally time to let go of entrenched beliefs and accept people for who they are.
Cambodia only awakened from its nightmare under the Khmer Rouge 30 years ago, but prices in Phnom Penh are already higher than in Taipei. Open to any kind of foreign investment, the city has become an adventurer's haven full of opportunities.
Railroads, highways, waterways and sea lanes linking China and the northern ASEAN region pass through regional hub Bangkok. Betting on the Thai capital appears to be a smart move for anyone who wants to invest in the region.
The city of Kunming, located deep in China far from any coast, shares many ethnic, linguistic and cultural characteristics in common with Southeast Asia. The completion of major transportation infrastructure projects has transformed the city into a strategic center for making inroads into the ASEAN region.
Population decline is debilitating Japan’s local economies. But is economic growth the only way? Over the past decade an emphasis on interpersonal interaction, community development and happiness has gained rapid currency.
As Japan looks forward to becoming a hyper-aging society, the government has begun encouraging the elderly to "live out their years at home," integrating medical treatment and long-term care to forge environments preferable to old age homes.
Japan's population is on the decline, with potentially disastrous consequences for the economy. Tokyo has responded with a population policy for the first time in 70 years that will put women and seniors in the spotlight.
In Israel, military service is more important than education. During training, Israelis learn to lift up their comrades, take on responsibility, and hone the problem-solving skills they will use for the rest of their lives.
Why was Google willing to spend US$1.5 billion on a tiny five year-old Israeli startup? Why did Intel locate its largest overseas R&D center in Israel? The answer is simple: Israelis have little to offer, except their smarts.
With a vast network of free trade agreements, South Korea's trade volume has surpassed Taiwan's by leaps and bounds. Yet its society is polarized by a widening wealth gap. What lessons can Taiwan learn?
Chinese and South Korean display makers will soon launch eight production lines for large-size TV screens in China. How can Taiwan's leading makers of LCD TV panels survive this offensive? What are their counterstrategies?
After six years in the political wilderness following a failed first stint as prime minister, Shinzo Abe is back, and so is Japan. CommonWealth Magazine takes an in-depth look at the keys to the two closely linked revivals.
China boasts 10 times more resources than Taiwan, and 100 times the limelight. But once a Taiwanese exec has made the move to China, they often find no way back. How can Taiwan retain its native talent?
One of Asia's 25 most powerful entrepreneurs, he controls electricity transmission in South Australia and water services in southwest England. But what's on his mind right now is some down-home cooking...
On the strength of its talent, opportunities, investment and new wealth, Asia is eclipsing the Eurozone and U.S., as a potential middle class of 3.2 billion reshapes the region as the world's biggest market.
The orange and white CoCo Fresh Drinks sign has gone up in a thousand locations worldwide. The strength of its brand and personnel management is even enticing entrepreneurs in Singapore, South Korea and Russia.
They are the neighbors, helpers and family members of the Taiwanese, yet to many they remain strangers. The single largest group of foreign nationals in Taiwan, Indonesians face many challenges fitting in.
Nine out of ten smartphones in Taiwan are fitted with its Line app. It has left Google to starve in South Korea, and captured the hearts of Japanese gamers. What was Samsung thinking when it let this online juggernaut go?
As the unrivaled center of traditional Japanese arts and crafts, Kanazawa invests massively in training artisans, and is committed to creating an environment where all residents can explore their artistic potential.
Founded 400 years ago as a cultural center, Kanazawa boasts a rich artistic heritage, which it lavishes with love, labor and generous investments. How is this city breathing new life into its creative and cultural industries?
From world-beater to faded glory, Japan's home electronics industry has come to an existential crossroads, and like fallen nobility maintains its sleek, shiny exterior, awaiting some nebulous shot at a future comeback.
Nearly a year has passed since the Great Tohoku Earthquake. Through the eyes of a housewife, an engineer, a reporter and a volunteer worker, we look at how the lives of the Japanese have changed, the fears they face, and the lessons they have learned.
The Four Little Dragons of East Asia have grown up. From centers of contract manufacturing, they have metamorphosed into centers of finance and trade – the "NIE-4" of Asia. But how can they parlay their wealth into equity and happiness?
Bhutan is committed to the well-being and happiness of its people. National development has a vision, concrete goals and ways to achieve them. Which road should Taiwan take in its national development?
Unlike preceding generations, the Bhutanese youth of today are not content to live in poverty and rely on the government for help. They are symbolic of a changing Bhutan and the hope of achieving economic prosperity.
Traveling the length of gently curving Provincial Highway No. 1, CommonWealth Magazine witnesses the rising vitality of grassroots Taiwan, and discovers seven traits that enable countless Taiwanese to prevail.
In this year's Greater China top 1,000, sales were up, but many mainstays failed to make the cut, as a titanic struggle of business philosophies unfolded. Which companies emerged as the biggest winners?
In as little as a decade, China will eclipse the U.S. as the world's biggest economy. As America shares its superpower status with China, their often contradictory rivalry is becoming a decisive factor in the fate of Taiwan, and the world.
Promoting its own standards and rewriting the game rules across a range of industries, China hopes to go head-to-head with the leading standards of the West. Once China can "call the shots," how can Taiwan reap the rewards?
Once denizens of a primary battleground for top-quality branded goods, the Japanese are now tightening their belts. Yoshinoya's new low-end Beef Bowl speaks volumes about the Japanese market's sea change.
Taiwan's "godfather of forex," now deeply engaged in China's burgeoning commercial banking sector, ponders the grand harvest that potentially awaits Taiwanese banks in China, and the strategies necessary to succeed there.
Things are looking up for Songshan Airport. With a new direct link to Tokyo, it's taking an ever-bigger bite of the commercial market pie, and Taiwan's importance in the Asian airline industry continues to rise.
Yuriko Koike, the opening speaker at the upcoming CommonWealth Economic Forum, is Japan's most high-profile woman politician, with her eyes set on the post of prime minister. What role does she envision for Japan in the new Asia?
With its sleek, modern interior, Vietnam's popular restaurant chain Pho24 is taking the traditional bowl of noodles to new heights. How did founder Ly Qui Trung win out against the multinational fast food competition?
As Indonesia shifts from exports to an economy driven by domestic demand, its Taiwanese business presence is also shifting from manufacturing to the service industry. What are the secrets to tapping this new source of wealth?
When their father took his own life, Albert and Arthur Ting suddenly faced the huge task of finishing his half-built empire. Shunning the spotlight, they have spent half a decade quietly constructing a sprawling new suburb south of Saigon.
From Seoul's trendy Myeongdong shopping district to the vanity tables of Europe and America, the brands of South Korean cosmetics giant Amore Pacific are increasingly at home, as beauty becomes the latest Korean craze to sweep the globe.
Last year as leading Japanese automaker Toyota plunged into crisis, South Korea's Hyundai swiftly seized the day, surging to fourth place in global rankings. This incredible "Hyundai speed" has since become the model to emulate.
This time he's no pop star. Donning the cap of an ordinary small businessman, Ashin is spearheading one of Taiwan's most successful fashion brands. What does Stayreal say about the changing face of "Made in Taiwan?"
When no one else was gung ho about China, Silas Siu-shun Yang daringly expanded his accounting firm into China. And when Arthur Andersen collapsed, Yang again moved quickly to grab his stricken competitor’s staff in China. Where does this seasoned China hand see new opportunities in Asia in 2010?
Casting an eye across the globe, there is nowhere its shadow isn't cast. Its services may just lie behind that ATM card you use or that express delivery package you received. How does India's biggest information services concern intend to expand its presence in the Taiwan market?
With the rising consumption power of Southeast Asia, many homegrown businesses are becoming regional giants with dominant market positions, by understanding local cultures and embracing an "ASEAN way of thinking."Air Asia is one prime example.
Steeped in culture and basking in a wave of urban renewal, Taipei's West Side is undergoing a quiet metamorphosis. A new gateway to Taiwan, a new oasis in Taipei, the city's West Side is currently standing on the threshold of rejuvenation.
India has the largest population of blind people in the world. Aravind Eye Hospitals offer free operations for poor people, yet by maximizing efficiency can still turn a profit of nearly US$8 million a year.
The ultra-affordable Nano means ordinary Indian families need no longer brave the rains squeezed together on a motorbike, and it may help Tata Motors ride the energy-conservation wave into Europe and North America.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the world swept in to scoop up Russia's skilled engineers and scientists. Now they have not only become behind-the-scenes movers and shakers in the global tech industry, they are also the key to Russia's resurgence.
Reliant on its abundant resources to fuel an economic resurgence, Russia has been dealt a hard blow by the global economic crisis. Characterized in the Western media as a misguided, dangerous bear, can Russia regain its former glory?
Already an important source of the world's raw materials, Brazil is taking shape as a new frontier of business opportunity, an increasingly important market for companies, and fertile soil for enterprising Taiwanese business people.
Toyota for the first time ranks as the world's number-one automaker, yet it faces declining market demand. The hybrid Prius is its only model bucking that trend. Is the eco-friendly car the shot in the arm Toyota desperately needs?
In this exclusive interview, Singapore's Prime Minister talks about staying competitive in a climate of constant change, being the beacon for liveable cities in Asia, and enticing a top-flight work force.
Once the new promised land for Taiwanese investors, Vietnam is now beset with a volatile stock market, hyperinflation, and high interest rates. What can embattled Taiwanese businesses do to win in Vietnam?
Eight million people, eight million smiles. The most tolerant of Asia's cities, Bangkok is described by Westerners as a place you never want to leave. How does this internationalized city preserve its allure?
Ten years ago, Asia was rocked by a severe financial crisis. Now the region prospers more than ever before. Yet during the same period, Taiwan's prospects have dimmed. How have other Asian countries been able to turn their fortunes around?
With a Southeast Asian economic boom fueling demand for business professionals, Taiwan's universities are recruiting large numbers of Southeast Asian students in what has become a new, lucrative trend.
Haier is China’s most respected brand, and its CEO is the country’s most respected business leader. With a determined dedication to quality, China’s premier home appliance brand has now cast its eyes on the world…