Taiwanese on Working Holiday Visas in Australia Criticized

This article is one of many responses being circulated around Taiwanese Facebook in response to a recent article and subsequent media discussion criticising what they label “Taiwanese labour” working in menial jobs in Australia on working holiday visas.

From Yahoo Taiwan:

Australian Fruit Picker, Hsinchu Academcy of Science Engineer Learns to Not Love Money

Former Hsinchu Academy of Science engineer Chen Zhengen gave up a million dollar [Taiwanese dollar] salary five years ago, flew to Australia on a working holiday, and in this foreign land met fellow countryman Xiao Jialing. The two fell in love, and are now hand in hand at their Changhua county Dacun township vineyard building their dreams. In regards to recent media reports labeling those going to Australia to work are “Taiwanese Labour”, they think “This is a very strange statement and way of thinking.”

31-year-old Chen Zhengen is now Dacun town’s youngest grape grower, and doesn’t miss his past title as an engineer with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. He said, after arriving in Australia for a working holiday, he discovered that Australians generally don’t care about how much money people make, and instead put a lot of importance on family and enjoying life, granting him a happy and content perspective on life, “and that’s why I decided to return to Dacun to grow grapes,” and even though he only earned 200,000 TWD [6800 USD] in his first year, he doesn’t feel dismayed.

He and Xiao Jialing met while working at a farm in Australia’s Swan Hill, so it can be said “fate brought them together”, and at the same time met a lot of Koreans also working in Australia. Chen Zhengen said, “It was only after talking to them did I learn that they actively seek to go abroad to work, believing this to be a learning experience to be proud of, and will make finding a job back in Korea much easier.”

As for university graduates going to Australia for working holidays being called miserable “Taiwanese Labour”, Chen Zhengen and Xiao Jialing disagree, “Korea’s news media are very supportive, no one says [Koreans in Australia are] ‘Korean Labour’; So why does Taiwan’s media call us ‘Taiwanese Labour’?” They also don’t like everyone making going abroad on working holidays about “life’s first pot of gold” [a person’s first substantial sum of money].

Xiao Jialing used to be like a migratory bird, following the fruit harvests, in an unfamiliar country’s going online or asking local friends, looking for the next farm to work at. She said “While working, I encountered backpackers from many countries, and during our conversations, everyone said they did it to train themselves, learn independence, and expand their horizons, and I never heard of anyone coming to earn their first pot of gold.”

The two said the government’s plan to promote traveling abroad encouraging young people to go on working holidays is a very good policy, “the outside world is really very different”, that Taiwanese people mustn’t be the “frog at the of bottom of the well” [someone with a limited outlook and experience], and should encourage university students to go abroad on working holidays after graduation, or even by taking a year off from school, so when they come back, they won’t be a member of the “depend on dad tribe”, the “life off their elders tribe” or “coddled my mommy tribe”.

“If the media repeatedly emphasizes ‘earning your first pot of gold’ and turns working holidays into about making money,that would be terrible.” Chen Zhengen said many foreign backpackers only bring a few hundred Australian dollars, going to Australia to make a living, no one plans on going home in golden robes [rich].”

Comments on Yahoo Taiwan:


Taiwan doesn’t have any fruit?


Then why not go to Ethiopia or Zimbabwe to train yourself, learn independence, and expand your horizons?

檯中小韋恩 A.K.A. AP劍人:

Five years ago perhaps it wasn’t for money, but now lots of people are heading to Australia in order to [earn and] save up an amount of money, with making money being their primary goal, and vacationing and studying abroad actually being secondary considerations.


Is loving money wrong? There’s simply no need to emphasize that you don’t love money, [because] going to Australia to work and make money isn’t wrong.


Soon I’ll be going to Australia too, and I’ll affirm that I’m Taiwanese Labour, no mistake.


Australians don’t care about or love money? It’s because they’re salaries are high, so they have a lot of time to be with their families, whereas in Taiwan not working hard to make money means not being able to survive. If one had the time, who wouldn’t like to stay home and enjoy family happiness?


Those working in Taiwan are the real Taiwanese Labour! They are exploited workers. The working conditions abroad are better!


This report is simply too romantic… There is no disgrace in facing reality.


These days, there are three types of people go backpacking in Australia:
1. Real Backpackers
2. Half Half
3. Real Taiwanese Labour = The majority of those going to Australia now are of this type, as the news reports!!!


You have no debt, no mortgage, or no children to raise, so of course you can come here and sound so noble and virtuous. Wait until you have a home loan, car loan, and child education expenses. Then your thinking will change.


Taiwan’s media really is the largest source of chaos!!


The choice of Australia is because the hourly wages are high. Why don’t you ask Filipino people… Why don’t they go to Africa to work…?

What do you think? Are Taiwanese people exploiting working holiday visas specifically to make money? Is that wrong?


Written by Stuart Dingle


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