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Erin Hale: On Taiwan’s Antiquated Banking System and Being an American Journalist Living in Asia Ep 183

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

Erin Hale is an American Journalist who has lived and worked across Asia.

She is currently a freelance journalist based in Taiwan. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, The BBC News, The New Statesman, The South China Morning Post, Marie Claire, The Southeast Asia Globe, and other outlets.

I came across her work through a recent article she wrote about how Taiwan’s banking system is stuck in the 80’s. I happened to discover it the same week we released episode 180 with Paolo Lising. In that episode Paolo and I talked about how people in Taiwan still update their account passbooks by running them through dot matrix printers at the bank.

Erin has lived in Asia for seven years. We talked about how she’s lived in Hong Kong, China and Cambodia and the reporting she’s done on Hong Kong and Cambodia, in addition to Taiwan.

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • What brought Erin to Taiwan
  • What Erin witnessed of the Hong Kong protests in 2019
  • Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement of 2014
  • John Lee who was elected to succeed Carrie Lam as Hong Kong’s next leader
  • How the recent article that Erin wrote for BBC News about how Taiwan’s banking system is still stuck in the 80s was inspired by a tweet by Catherine Chou (@catielila)
  • The reaction on Twitter to Erin’s article and how she used Twitter to crowdsource research for it
  • How often Erin uses Twitter to do research for her stories
  • How Erin appealed to Twitter for people’s experiences voting in the Philippines presidential election
  • How Erin deals with bots on Twitter, fake news and disinformation as a journalist
  • Taiwan-related visa and immigration issues that Erin has dealt with
  • The bureaucracy that Erin has experienced in Taiwan
  • How Erin gets ideas or sources for her stories
  • Working as a freelance journalist
  • What it takes to succeed as a freelance journalist
  • What Erin enjoyed about writing the story about banking in Taiwan
  • The article that Erin wrote about Taiwan’s indigenous people
  • What it’s been like for Erin to learn Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan and what her goals in studying Chinese are
  • How Erin ended up moving to Asia
  • Beijing’s ‘Airpocalypse’ in 2013
  • How journalists’ experiences in China have changed over the last five years
  • How Cambodia has changed and become influenced by China


Related Links:

Erin Hale’s website:


Erin Hale on Twitter:



Erin Hale’s article for the BBC “Will Taiwan’s banks stay stuck in a ‘1980s’ time warp?”:


2019–2020 Hong Kong protests:


Hong Kong Protests (from Human Rights Watch):


Hong Kong’s Protests Explained (from Amnestry International):


Hong Kong’s Umbrella movement of 2014:


Sunflower movement:


Lam steps down as fractured Hong Kong faces more uncertainty (an article for Al Jazeera by Erin Hale):


Beijing loyalist John Lee elected as Hong Kong’s next leader:


Chinese name chop (aka seal aka stamp):


Paolo Lising Startup Taiwan Author: Shares His Knowledge on Starting a Business in Taiwan (Episode 180):


Catherine Chou on Twitter:


What is a Vox Pop?:


Indigenous hunting traditions in sights of Taiwan’s top court (an article for Al Jazeera by Erin Hale):


Beijing’s ‘Airpocalypse’ Spurs Pollution Controls, Public Pressure:


Talking Taiwan Episode 139 featuring Catherine Chou, Kevin Lin, and Jane W. Wang:


Covid 19 Taiwan Fundraiser: Raising Money for Society’s Most Vulnerable (Episode 139):


Reliving the Sunflower Movement from Ground Zero: Jiho Chang Tells the Inside Story (Episode 174):

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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