The Bilingual 2030 Policy is a long-term policy initiative launched by the Taiwanese government in 2018. The policy was developed in response to the growing trend of internationalization and the need for Taiwan to enhance its global competitiveness. The main goals of the Bilingual 2030 Policy are to attract international investment, increase foreign professionals living and working in Taiwan, and promoting its industries abroad and creating high-quality jobs for young Taiwanese. This policy is broad and involves several key aspects and goals, requiring policymakers to understand the needs of various stakeholders and reach a consensus.
The stages of this policy include:
Improving English proficiency in high school and college by supplementing English education at all stages of schooling for Taiwanese students.
Developing digital learning, providing teaching materials, and acclimating bilingual teachers to the digital teaching environment.
Expanding English proficiency test capacity by offering affordable and convenient internationally certified English proficiency tests.
Improving civil servants’ English proficiency through the civil service exam and training.
Establishing the Bilingual Policy Development Center to coordinate the policy’s implementation.
Optimizing bilingual conditions for young students.
Attracting International Investment
International investment is an important economic goal for all countries as it brings foreign capital, technology, enterprise solutions, and market access, which stimulates domestic industries, creates jobs, and enhances productivity. Foreign investment is particularly important for Taiwan as it contributes to economic stability by diversifying a country’s sources of income and reducing overreliance on a single market. Despite the value of international investment to the island, Taiwan still has high barriers for companies looking to enter Asian markets, including a complex regulatory environment, cultural barriers, and a language barrier. The Bilingual 2030 Policy will help to significantly reduce these barriers to foreign investment and contribute to Taiwan’s plan to become a regional hub for multinational firms looking to enter the Asian market. Taiwan has already been moving in the right direction by lowering regulatory barriers on foreign firms and by offering economic incentives. One way that Taipei hopes to attract foreign investment and bolster its Smart City Initiative is by offering SMEs and startups awards, grants, and loans to headquarter themselves in Taipei. However, much of the material is only found in Chinese and will require firms to understand the application process in an unfamiliar language, thus making grants inaccessible.
Similar issues can be found in the immigration process for foreign professionals seeking employment in Taiwan. It is well-known among foreign professionals in Taiwan that the famous Gold Card Visa, which is a special visa that allows foreign professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs to live in Taiwan, is not as straightforward as it first appears. Many foreign professionals end up in a cycle of communicating with multiple government agencies to satisfy the requirements of the Gold Card Visa application.
While the government’s heart is in the right place with these programs, the high barrier to entry means that foreign individuals and companies need the help of local Taiwanese lawyers or firms that specialize in these processes in order to take advantage of these programs. As it currently stands, the immigration and investment policies remain unequal and tend to reward those who have the resources and time to go through the process.
Bilingual 2030 is the long-term solution to these investment and immigration challenges. While this policy does not address concerns regarding Taiwan’s bureaucratic approach to immigration, it will lower the barriers to non-Mandarin speaking foreigners. The government is already on the right track by beginning to publish websites, legal documents, policies and procedures, and address questions in English. Government departments are also including English proficiency in civil service exams, and cities like Taipei City are helping legacy employees to improve their English-language abilities through English training programs, language exchange programs, language proficiency incentives, and creating an English-friendly work environment.
Promoting Taiwanese Industries Abroad
As one of the Four Asian Tigers, Taiwan was able to successfully position itself as a global manufacturing hub. However, as other countries competed to become the world’s manufacturer and the global system became more specialized, Taiwan will once again need to assert itself in the global economy as a leader in advanced technology and research and development. Given global supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic and US-China technology competition, Taiwan can easily position itself to become a global leader in OEM and manufacturing, renewable energy and green technology, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and economic and security research within the next decade.
When speaking on the legislative Yuan’s proposed establishment of the Bilingual Development Center (雙語國家發展中心) David Chang, Secretary-general and Founder of Crossroads, discussed the importance of the Bilingual 2030 Policy for Taiwan’s national development, stating “English is the lingua franca of international business, financial systems, and media. Just looking at the Ukraine-Russia War, individual citizens telling their stories on the ground via English has been strategically important in emotionally connecting with and rallying support from the international community.”
This quote speaks to Taiwan’s place in the international community. Taiwan is already home to strong industries, but there is much to be gained through the Bilingual 2030 Policy. This policy will significantly aid in Taiwan’s business development activities, with more corporate representation abroad and even a greater role for its SMEs on the global stage. By increasing English education, developing government systems that are friendly to native English speakers, and encouraging English-language communication skills, Taiwanese industries can directly benefit from accessing international trade shows and exhibitions, working with foreign industry associations to meet global demand for Taiwanese products, networking and creating cross-boarder partnerships, and pursuing vital research and development collaboration in industry and with academic institutions.