Taipei is the home of one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world as well as the host of one of the most important computer exhibitions. And it seems that the number of foreigners on Taipei’s streets is increasing. Taipei somehow makes the impression of being a global city, but do you really think that Taipei could compete with cities like New York, London, Hong Kong, Beijing, etc?
When I read about all the special things Taipei has to offer I feel like „Wow, what a cool city!“. However, every day when I drive to Taipei for work, I somehow don’t have this kind of feeling. Probably because I’m not a tourist and most of the things I do in Taipei are just common things. Furthermore, when I had been in Taiwan 8 years ago, I also have been in Taipei just for one day, but when I had been in Paris and Hong Kong, I would have considered staying just for one day as way too short. The simple reason is that these cities are much bigger than Taipei.
So actually, what are the special features of a global city? Scientifically speaking, a global city has a large political, economic and cultural significance. From the political view, the world’s leading cities are Washington D.C., London, Paris, Moscow and Beijing….thus definitely not Taipei. From the economic view, Taipei indeed has certain significance, not necessarily on a global scale, but definitely for Asia. And then the cultural aspect….well, I guess I have to be careful how to write this….but what I mean is the cultural significance of a global city and who really thinks that Taipei has a similar significance than Rome, Madrid, Paris, London or New York?
Another viewpoint is the presence of world-famous sightseeing spots. Well let’s see and compare: In New York we have the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, in Paris we have the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, in London we have the Buckingham Palace and the Tower Bridge, in Beijing we have the Forbidden City, and in Taipei we have….what do want to pick? Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Longshan Temple, National Palace Museum or rather Taipei 101? I suppose that Taipei’s city government would definitely choose Taipei 101, since many leaflets about Taipei write: Taipei 101 is the landmark of Taipei. Quite true, Taipei 101 put Taipei on the map, but when I look at Taipei 101 now, several thoughts cross my mind: On one hand I think that it’s an architectural and technical masterpiece and on the other hand I think that Taipei 101 totally doesn’t suit Taipei. When looking at Taipei 101 from far distance, one can see Taipei 101 and nothing else, like the last man standing. However, I think I really shouldn’t describe the skyline of New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, shouldn’t I?
There’s also another feeling on the streets of Taipei compared to other cities. When I had been in Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong and Miami, I always felt like a very cool dude, haha!!! But not in Taipei, very probably since I already live here for more than six years and don’t share the impressions of tourists since a long time anymore. And talking of tourists, they are also significantly less in Taipei compared to Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, thus no feeling of a global city either.
Well, I hope that Mr. Hao Long-Bin (the current mayor of Taipei) won’t complain about me, but my conclusion is: Taipei is not a global city. Taipei is an Asian metropolis and definitely the political and economic center of Taiwan. Furthermore I think that Taipei is just right, not too big and not too small, a good mixture of traditional and modern aspects. If you have the chance to travel to Taipei, it will be totally worth it. If you could chose among New York, London, Paris, Beijing and Taipei, well then probably not.