How many foreigners are there in Taiwan? How many of them are from Western countries? And how many are teachers? The statistics may surprise you.
According to the National Immigration Agency of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), as to 31/12/2013 there were 525,109 legally registered foreign residents. The by far largest number of them come from the following countries:
- Indonesia: Male 40,481; Female 151,859
- Philippines : Male 33,688; Female 53,384
- Thailand: Male 52,424; Female 14,341
- Vietnam: Male 64,413; Female 57,233
The total number of foreign residents from these countries alone amounts to 467,823.
How many foreign residents from English-speaking countries are there? Here I will list off only those countries whose passport holders are usually considered by Taiwanese schools eligible for becoming English teachers without having a professional teacher’s degree. These countries are: USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Australia: Male 474; Female 229
- New Zealand: Male 183; Female 81
- Ireland: Male 85; Female 12
- UK: Male 1,253; Female 260
- Canada: Male 1,375; Female 533
- USA: Male 6,472; Female 2,644
- South Africa: Male 455; Female 282
The total number amounts to just 14,338. As we can see here, there is a clear gender imbalance in favour of the male population (source: National Immigration Agency).
Of these foreign residents from English-speaking countries, how many are teachers?
Well, apparently there are no clear figures that can help us answer this question. However, according to the National Immigration Agency, in 2013 there were 6,044 foreign teachers. But this figure includes both English teachers and teachers of other languages. An unknown number of illegal English teaching jobs should also be taken into consideration.
It is interesting to note that at the beginning of the 1990s the number of foreign teachers was very small, and it rose steadily and fast during the whole decade.
In 1992, there were only 1,527 foreign teachers. By the year 2000 the number had risen to 3,812. In 2004 it exceeded for the first time 6,000, and it has remained stable ever since, peaking at 7,003 in April 2012. As to December 2013, it stood at 6,044.
This development seems to explain why in the early 1990s the working conditions for foreign teachers were perceived as particularly advantageous. As competition has risen, so has the employers’ bargaining power. However, the small number of foreign teachers – in proportion to a population of over 23 million – seems to suggest a shortage rather than an abundance of foreign teaching staff. This could explain their still strong bargaining position.
Foreign residents from other Western countries are just a small fraction of the total amount of foreign residents in Taiwan. Here two examples:
- Germany: Male 519; Female 170
- France: Male 685; Female 294
As far as citizens of the People’s Republic of China are concerned, the situation is complex. In fact, the Republic of China (ROC) continues to consider mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau as parts of the ROC, and mainland Chinese, Hong Kongers, Macanese and also many overseas Chinese enjoy the special status of nationals without household registration (NWOHR). It means that they do not have household registration in the “Taiwan Area” of the ROC, but they are ROC nationals (see Wikipedia). Accordingly, they are not registered as foreign residents.
One final curiosity: in the statistics of foreign residents by nationality there is a female listed as a citizen of the USSR!