Taiwan, Twenty Five Years From Now

by on Tuesday, 24 March 2009 Comments
In twenty-five years, I will arrive in Taipei by United Airlines – a Chinese airline company, which will directly connect Ningbo to Taipei. Customs will have taken only the necessary three minutes to read the electronic passport formatted the size of a bank card. To be able to enter a state member of the Confederation of the Chinese States (CCS) from another one of the territories, the procedure will have become extremely simple; it will no longer be required to make a record of one’s iris colour by a digital camera connected to the federal database. I will pass quickly to the self-service check-in machine to enter my luggage code, select a destination and a means of transport. I will gently brush the “subway” button and choose the central station that is located under the old Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

I will let the silent and rapid escalator carry me towards a quay of a green fitted carpet where there will be magnetic levitation trains. Twenty-three minutes later, I will reach the heart of the metropolis’ historical districts, whose arteries are suspended on top of the urban sea, stretching to the residential zones of Taichung, today a district of the capital. The long tube of glass, buried half underground, will meander at a speed of 280 km/h, along the avenues and between the towers of the business districts whom will have invaded the old industrial parks and the countryside. With a vision at ground-level, in the muffled surroundings of the train’s belly, I will see the top of skyscrapers which will appear distinctly detached from the azure of the sky. Sometimes, one will be plunged into half darkness while the trajectory penetrates speedily into the carefully protected forest zones. This will last several minutes and one will imagine the iridescent freshness and the invigorating scents of a nature that is difficult to access. The conurbation of Taipei will extend then from the port of Keelung to Taichung. There will be a concentration of the largest pharmaceutical laboratories of the world, the florets of Asian biotechnologies and the research centres and development of the electronic world. 29 million inhabitants will mass around this nerve centre of the networks globalised by production, connected by an underwater motorway to the world capital of finance on the mainland, Zhuhai.
Beyond Taichung, down further south, time will seem to have gone into reverse. One will not venture there and the broad band of steppes will separate the two worlds.


With the progressive departure of the companies, the State will have gone bankrupt and with it the institutions will have sunk. The big harbour of Kaohsiung City, a formerly compulsory stop for the container boats that used to cross oceans, will have been emptied of its life force. Nature will have regained its lost ground and the aboriginal tribes will have taken again their rights, reconstituting the autonomous communities of the origins. Only the peasants attached to the ground of their ancestors will have remained and will live in good agreement with the Atayals and the Bununs. Far from the high-rise office buildings, the south of the island, savage, will resemble an immense industrial waste land, beaten by the winds, and travelled by the hunters of the tribes, drunk with independence and freedom.

In the north, I will be bored with the unravelling of this succession, repeated ad infinitum, of urban centres, office districts, residential zones, complexes dedicated to spirituality and “preserved nature zones”. Downsized to a surface of 10.000 square kilometres, the State will have lost all its authority due to its incapacity to face the challenges of the rising water level, disordered ecosystems and a problematic human density. The usual technocratic demagogues and powerful populist orators in business suits will have failed to stop the fall of rate of participation in the electoral polls. Sick and tired, people will have ended up with a degenerated plutocracy and an enlightened theocracy dedicated to the durable governorship which will have been put in place with general indifference. The Venerable Shen Master will be the head of the management of general interest unit, supported by the 29 million responsible citizens at the service of the public interest, both spiritually and environmentally. The armed forces will have been dismantled and the recalcitrant generals will have taken refuge in the lawless area of the great south where they will be at war with the aboriginal tribes. The State of Taiwan, associated with the Confederation of the Chinese States, will have become a neutral and international zone, exempted from tax. Consequently, whoever wishes to conquer it by the means of military coercion would put the world economy in danger.


When I arrive in the centre of Taipei, on the quays of the Central station which will be spread out under the esplanade of memorial CKS, I will rediscover this island, that was once familiar to me. I will go up to the surface of the Central Station by the means of a silent and speedy lift and discover a new world. The esplanade of the memorial hall will have been transformed into a gigantic park extending well beyond the old Presidential Palace. The Ketagalan Boulevard will be nothing more than rose trees and flowerbeds of geraniums. The unattractive architecture of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emblematic of the ancient authoritative regime would have been demolished.

There traffic will be reduced to only public vehicles running on gasoline recycled from cane sugar, that zigzag across the pedestrian zones. I will need to walk through a compact crowd of smiling people to reach the river banks of Tamshui… It will be a good walk in the fresh air, a time to imagine Taiwan twenty-five years ago.

Translated from French by Alice Lin - Photos by Hubert Kilian

Read the original version of the story in French

{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/stories/thumbnails_video/hub_kilian_imagination_tw.jpg|}http://www.erenlai.com/2010/media/articles/HubKilian_imaginationTW.swf{/rokbox}
Hubert Kilian (余白)

Journalist at "Taiwan Aujourd'hui", living in Taipei since 6 years. Photography is a way to pursue an unspeakable reality, to catch a “sub-reality”, to express strong feelings linked to lights and atmospheres shaped by the city. I like to raise the questions about the bonds between people, their everyday life and the city surrounding them. Humans are building cities but cities are shaping their life. Taipei, a metropolis where density is one of the highest in the world, is an excellent example about how a city can determine people’s everyday lives. Photography is a way to express this relationship between urbanity and people, their environment and the way they are interacting.

Taiwan Aujourd'hui 記者,台北居住了四年。

Website: www.hubertkilian.com/

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