2020年7月2日 星期四

The Future of Taitung County 台東的未來


As I contemplate moving away from Taitung, where I've lived and worked for the last 14 years, I can't help but wonder what the future holds for this part of Taiwan.  As readers of this blog are probably aware, I've spent a lot of time sifting through the local news during my time here.  I'd like to think I understand this place, and I'd like to think I can identify trends in the area, though I can always be wrong.  In the next few years I see the following things happening: 在我要離開生活了14年得台東前, 我忍不住想像台東未來的樣子.  在這個blog的讀者都知道, 我花了很多時間注意台東地區的新聞.  我希望自己真的了解這個地方, 也希望對台東未來的趨勢有正確的看法.  當然我有可能猜錯了,  但我想下列的事情幾年後都會發生:

1. The number of people born and raised in Taitung will continue to decline.  This is true of many places in Taiwan, though there are exceptions.  Taitung's population is aging (i.e. the average age is going up, not down), and this means growth will have to come from people moving into the county from other places. 台東的生育率及在這裡成長的人口會繼續下降.  雖然有的地方例外, 但這是很多地區的共同問題.  台東的平均年齡逐漸升高, 這也說明台東的經濟發展需要靠從外縣市移入的人口.

2. More people will move here, though the number of people moving in may not offset a decline in birthrates, and an increase in mortality.  Taitung's tourism industry is booming, and this means that more people will move into the area to make money.  Of course many people will be disappointed by the amount of money they actually make here, but this won't stop them from moving in.  The growth of the tourism industry, and "intangibles" like Taitung's more natural setting, will act as a powerful incentive for people to move into the area. 有更多外縣市的人會搬到台東, 但可能搬進來的人數不足增加出生率及減少死亡率.  目前台東的觀光業發展蓬勃, 較多人會搬來找新的就業機會, 但最後很多新縣民會發現沒那麼容易賺大錢.  但是觀光業的發展和台東的自然環境仍是吸引大多數人的主要原因.


3. Housing prices will continue to rise.  For whatever reason - and there may ultimately be NO reason aside from unreasonable confidence - houses and housing will continue to get more expensive.  Some of Taitung's wealthier residents are playing an expensive game of Monopoly with the local housing market, while outsiders are also buying up new houses in the hopes of either retiring to Taitung or opening hostels/homestays here.  As a result poorer residents will often find themselves squeezed out of the market.  Land of course will also become more expensive, though the rise in price in less-visited areas won't be as dramatic. 房價會繼續上漲.  不管是什麼原因或可能沒有正確的原因,  房子及公寓的價格會繼續上漲.  台東有些較有錢的人在當地住房市場裡玩著"大富翁"的遊戲, 也有外縣市的人來這裡買房子, 希望在這裡退休或是開民宿.  結果經濟條件較差的居民越來越買不起房.  當然土地也隨著變貴, 只是鄉下地區的價格還不會漲那麼高.

4. Development will continue, and may even accelerate.  The local government doesn't know how to do much aside from either building things, or opening up previously protected lands to farming and construction.  This is what the local people elect them to do.  The local government will continue to follow this program until a more economically conservative, ecologically-minded group of voters elect other types of politicians into office.  People here want money, money equals development, and politicians will continue to push development (i.e. farming and tourism) above other concerns. 台東地區會繼續發展, 甚至更快速發展.  當地政府除了蓋建築物和把保護地開放給農夫及建築公司使用外, 不知道如何利用土地. 這是當地人民投票給他們的理由,  而他們仍會繼續這樣做, 除非未來有在經濟上較保守及重視環保的政治家取代他們.  這裡的人要賺錢, 為了賺錢所以要發展, 所以政府單位會讓推動農業及觀光業的發展凌駕其他的議題.

5. Taitung's environmental situation will continue to deteriorate.  This is the flip side of #4 above.  People will continue to clear land and to build hotels and/or homestays.  Roads will be built into formerly remote areas.  Local government will continue to turn natural areas into tourism sites.  Agricultural interests will continue to push into the mountains as demand for local crops rises.  Some people like to pat themselves on the back over the closure of the "Beautiful Bay" hotel project, but local environmental threats are in actuality far more diverse, and much more closely tied to what local people are doing.  The use of fertilizers/pesticides, for instance, and the garbage that tourists leave behind are looming problems. 台東的環境會持續惡化.  這是上面第四點的結果.  居民會繼續整地蓋飯店跟民宿.  偏遠地區會繼續建設道路.  當地政府會繼續把大自然改造成觀光景點.  農業會繼續往山區深入.  有的人覺得"美麗灣"無法營業之後環境就沒有問題了, 可是當地的環境威脅還是很多, 也跟當地人比較有關.  例如肥料及農藥的使用, 還有觀光客製造的垃圾, 都是越來越嚴峻的問題.


6. The local government will continue to veer away from the KMT.  This was evidenced in the last local election.  The KMT won a few seats, but the DPP made a strong showing.  The local Chinese Nationalist Party is in serious trouble, and despite a strong base of support among older Taitung residents and aboriginal tribes, their grip on power is slipping.  I could see County Magistrate Rao Ching-ling winning another term if the best the local DPP can muster is the longsuffering Liou Jhao-hao, but she'll continue to face opposition from DPP lawmakers in the Taitung County Council. 國民黨在當地影響會減少.  這件事從上次的大選看了出來.  雖然國民黨在席次上贏了, 但民進黨也進步許多.  很多年紀比較大的縣民或原住民還是強力支持國民黨, 只是國民黨也漸漸喪失他們的影響力了.  如果民進黨下次縣長選舉的候選人仍是劉兆豪, 饒慶鈴應該會連任, 她仍需面對台東縣議會裡民進黨議員對立的態度.

7. Taitung will become less isolated.  With the new tunnel in place between Taitung and Pingtung counties, it is now much easier to travel to this part of the island by car.  The TRA is also working on train service to the area, and after they complete the new rail line (in two years) the trip between Kaohsiung Station and Taitung Station will take about 90 minutes.  More people will visit the area, traffic will get worse, and tourism will continue to edge out agriculture in the local economy. 台東不會那麼封閉了.  台東縣和屏東縣間的隧道完成之後, 來這裡玩方便多了.  台鐵也在改善鐵路服務.  鐵路預計在兩年完工, 之後從高雄站到台東站只要90分鐘.  會有更多的觀光客來, 交通會變差, 當地的觀光業會逐漸比農業發達.

8. Luye Township, Donghe Township and Taitung City will continue to grow relative to the rest of the county.  This is because Luye hosts the hot air balloon festival, which is a major tourist attraction, and because Donghe, located in the middle of the East Coast National Scenic Area, is a major tourist draw as well.  Taitung City is the major transportation hub for the county.  The growth of other townships and municipalities will likely depend on their proximity to these three important areas. 鹿野鄉, 東河鄉還有台東市會快速發展.  因為鹿野是舉辦熱氣球的基地, 吸引許多的觀光客.  東河位於東海岸國家風景區中間, 也很受歡迎.  台東市則是台東縣的重要交通樞紐.  其他鄉鎮的發展則靠與這三個地方的距離而定.


9. More chain restaurants and other franchises will appear.  With the cost of rent going up, and with the average wage staying at about the same level, local people will find it harder to start businesses in the area - even in the face of rising demand from tourists.  Businesses that have done well in other parts of the island will move in to fill the void.  This trend will be compounded by the fact that local investors often find it less risky to put their money into established brands.  The local government has programs in place to encourage the development of local businesses, but these programs are bureaucratic in nature, and burdened by well-intended rules that have outlived their usefulness. 更多的連鎖餐廳及品牌分店會出現.  隨著房租的上漲, 但月薪維持不變的情況, 當地人要開店做生意的難度會提高.  就算有愈多的觀光客來,  當地投資者仍會覺得把錢投資到知名品牌的風險比較小, 所以在外縣市已經營有成的公司會來投資滿足觀光客的需求, 這一趨勢將變得更顯著.  當地政府有計畫鼓勵當地企業的發展, 可是這些計畫都太官僚, 充滿太多沒用的規則.

10. Public services such as healthcare will improve, but their improvement will lag behind an influx of people from other areas.  The local government - to its credit - is working to improve facilities such as hospitals, libraries. athletic facilities and schools.  This is as it should be.  This is another of the reasons they were voted into office.  But given the pace of construction on infrastructure projects, improvements to such facilities will fail to reflect demographic shifts in the county. 衛生保健及其他的公共服務會更好, 可是進步的速度仍趕不上外來人口的成長.  當地政府很努力改進醫院, 圖書館, 體育館, 學校等設備.  這是很好的事情.  也是候選人被選上的理由之一.  可是這些基礎建設進行的速度仍無法滿足縣內的人口變化的需求.

11. Preserving local aboriginal culture will continue to be an uphill battle.  Just look at the population of townships and municipalities with more aboriginal residents.  People in those townships and municipalities are having children, but poverty forces many of the residents there to seek employment outside of Taitung.  Attempts by local public schools to encourage and preserve aboriginal culture have also been mixed. 保持原住民文化仍會是很困難的挑戰.  看一下原住民人口較多的鄉鎮.  雖然那些鄉鎮仍有人口出生, 可是貧窮讓很多居民去外縣市找工作.  就算當地的公立學校鼓勵原住民文化, 結果卻無法盡如人意.


12. Erosion will continue to be a problem.  The local government will continue to spend a lot of money on fortifying coastlines, rivers and mountainsides along roads.  Farmers pushing deeper into the mountains - into areas formerly off-limits to them - will not help this situation. 土石流的問題會延續.  當地政府還是需要花很多錢強化海岸, 河川, 和路邊的山腰.  農民更加深開墾山區則會讓這個問題更嚴重.

13. Someone will decide to start using the garbage incinerator in Taitung City, if they're not doing so already.  People here have been arguing over this for years, but with the amount of garbage this county produces, continuing to send it out of the county for disposal/incineration is untenable. 台東市立焚化爐將會啟用.  人們已經為這件事吵很久了.  隨著台東縣製造的垃圾的量變多, 未來啟用焚化爐的可能性會更高.

14. People will be born, other people will die, and life will generally continue.  Or it won't, depending on whether you're around to see it or not.  Depressed by the above list?  Don't worry, it's not the end of the world, not for most of us.  Taitung is still a nice place to live, and it may be that some or all of the trends discussed above will be slowed or reversed later on.  It's all about the period of time under discussion.  If you're depressed about the near future, I recommend taking a longer view; if you're depressed about one place, I recommend thinking about another.  The world is big, many things can happen, and no one has a crystal ball.  We can still have a good time today, and we can still find happiness tomorrow. 有人出生, 有人死亡, 我們的世界會延續,  也可能不會.  看你有沒有機會看到那個情景.  讀到這裡覺得傷心嗎?  不用緊張, 大部分的人還是活的下去.  住台東還是不錯的, 上面提到的問題發生趨勢可能會變慢或是消失.  這只是目前討論的當下, 如果覺得未來很糟糕, 你可以想想離我們更遠的未來.  如果覺得一個地區很糟糕, 就考慮其他地區.  這個世界很大, 很多事會發生, 誰知道未來的形狀.  今天可以玩得很開心, 明天還有明天的快樂.


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NOTE 1: All of the above assumes that larger, non-local events won't influence what's happening here.  I'm talking about things like epidemics, invasions, economic depressions and so forth.  Taiwan's response to the coronavirus has been exemplary, but there's talk of a "second wave" of infections, and of a new virus having appeared in China.  China's military has also been encroaching upon Taiwan's airspace, and the passage of a new "security law" in Hong Kong is affecting relations between the two countries.  In all things we can only wait and see, and hope cooler heads prevail.

And hey, you never know, maybe aliens will contact us.  Or maybe the first true artificial intelligence will come into being.  Or maybe, or maybe...

NOTE 2: Sorry about the fonts "going weird."  It's not me, it's Blogger.  They seem to be screwing around with things lately.

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