Skip to main content

Chang Yung-fa's Memoirs: Taiwan's Success Story seen through the Eyes of One of its Makers


The history of a country is always the history of its people. Of their lives and thoughts, of their hardships and successes. If you want to understand the rise of Asia's economic power, is there a better way than knowing the personal stories of those business people who, born into poverty, struggled to become wealthy? I believe that such individual stories will allow future generations to understand much better this era of astonishing economic and social change in the Far East.

If Japan is the "pioneer" of Asian capitalism, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore belong to the second generation of Asian "economic miracles". They shocked the Western world - which in its arrogance believed to be destined to exercise a monopoly over progress and economic development forever - by the unprecedented pace of their industrialization and their long-lasting economic success.

Chang Yung-fa (Traditional Chinese: 張榮發, pinyin: Zhāng Róngfā, born in 1927 in Taiwan), founder of the global shipping and aviation conglomerate Evergreen, is one of those businessmen whose life is intertwined with the era of economic rise of East Asia. Therefore, his life is more than a personal account. It tells us something about the generation that made Taiwan the economic powerhouse it is today. In his memoirs, entitled "Tides of Fortune", Mr Chang tells the story of how he rose from a humble sailor to one of Taiwan's richest men

"Dr Chang Yung-fa's memoirs," writes Great Britain's ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the foreword of the book, "provide the reader with more than a description of a phenomenally successful business career: they offer too a unique insight into Taiwan itself. Who could have imagined fifty years ago, when the Kuomintang leadership withdrew to that island from mainland China, that by the end of the twentieth century Taiwan would have become one of the region's most astonishing economic success stories?"

Of the third generation of mainland Chinese who had moved to Taiwan from Fujian Province, Mr Chang was born into a poor family. His father became a seaman at the age of 25. Though "seafaring was considered one of the most perilous professions", Mr Chang says, "jobs were scarce and life [...] harsh during the Japanese rule."

His entrepreneurial career started when he became the owner of his own ship in the 1960's. In 1968 he founded Evergreen Maritime Corporation, which grew into a world leader in the container shipping industry.  In 1991 Mr Chang launched Taiwan's first private international airline, Eva Air. 

Chang Yung-fa's memoirs offer a deep insight into almost a century of Taiwanese history, from the Japanese rule and the first decades of the Republic of China on Taiwanese soil to the modernization and rise of the "Asian Tiger". 


Tides of Fortune: Memoirs of Chang Yung-Fa

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Will The Huawei Case Finally Awaken Democrats To The China Threat And The Danger Of Faux Free Trade Rhetoric?

On January 28 the Department of Justice of the United States unsealed two cases against Huawei, China's largest telecommunications company, and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. 
Huawei has been accused of trying to steal trade secrets, committing bank fraud, breaking confidentiality agreements and violating sanctions against Iran. One indictment claims that Huawei attempted to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile by promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information.
Huawei is not a company like any other. Over the years it has benefited enormously from the support of the Chinese Communist regime. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, joined China's army during the Cultural Revolution. In 1978 he also joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 
In the early years Huawei's sources of capital were high-interest loans (20%-30%) from Chinese state-owned enterprises. Ren also secured soft loans from the local government of Shenzhen thanks to his personal co…

Chinese Dissident Zhang Jilin Detained By Police In Chongqing After Calling On Xi Jinping To Resign

Chinese dissident Zhang Jilin (张吉林) has been detained by police in the city of Chongqing after publicly saying that President Xi Jinping should be removed from office.
According to Taiwan-based Apple Daily, on January 17 Zhang talked about China's current affairs on a WeChat group. His ideas received praise from the group members, and he later told friends that he wanted to give a public speech based on the thoughts he had expressed online.
Other dissidents urged him to be careful, but he insisted that he had "the right to free speech." On January 19 Zhang went to Guanyinqiao Square, in the city of Chongqing, and delivered a speech about China's political situation, calling on Xi Jinping to be removed from office.
"I think it's time for Xi Jinping to be removed from office," Zhang told a crowd according to an audio recording. "The Chinese Communist Party will not do anything to the people. If you don't believe me, look, I have been giving a speech…

German court rules pro-Nazi car license plate can be revoked

A court in the German city of Duesseldorf has ruled that the license identifier "HH 1933" may be revoked by the Road Traffic Licensing Department (RTLD). 
According to Der Spiegel, the motor vehicle licensing authority of the district of Viersen had authorized a requested personalized registration plate featuring the ID "HH 1933." After a citizen issued a complaint, however, the license plate was revoked. The driver appealed the decision in court.    

"HH 1933" is thought to be a reference to the Nazi salute "Heil Hitler" (HH) and to the year 1933, when the Nazis seized power. 
On May 2 a court in Duesseldorf ruled that the RTLD may revoke the licence plate.  The court ruled against the Department's initial request that the driver replace the licensing plate. The court found that the Department only has the authority to prohibit the vehicle from being driven on public roads, but not to order a replacement of the licensing plate.