I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say here. I took from it that at least some Taiwanese people believe their country to be poor. Personally, I know the stats and can also see several advantages that Taiwan has over my own home country, the UK. Yet I know if I were to ask the average Brit about Taiwan, once I'd explained I didn't mean Thailand, they'd lump it in with their other mental images of 'places other than the West' that are therefore inferior in every way, including national wealth.
There was an interesting exercise I did once on world perceptions with some other teachers where we had to rank nations according to the quality of their healthcare. The others in my group overwhelmingly wanted to place Singapore and Hong Kong near the bottom and we nearly had an argument when I insisted they should be placed near the top, and certainly higher than the US.
This is worth a read:
Note especially his "five stages" theory of economic development, which does explain a lot of observations in this thread. Taiwanese people are rich but still think they are poor. Britain is poor (as a nation) but still believes it is rich. It takes a while for people's perceptions to catch up with reality. Presumably, people's perceptions of other countries are subject to the same rule.
What we need here is not "urban renewal" but bylaws stipulating that you need to maintain the outside of your building. All buildings should also have management companies take care of them as they do in the west. I know it can be done. The apartment we have out in Taoyuan is in a 15 year old complex that looks as new as when it opened. Every other complex around it, most much younger, look like absolute shit holes.
The building management companies are part of the problem. Buildings are not designed or built to high standards because the building company knows that, as long as the building stays standing for the guarantee period (5 years or whatever it is) they can completely wash their hands of it once it's been handed off to the management company. The management, in turn, simply view it as a cash cow rather than a commitment: tenants must pay extortionate monthly fees but have little recourse to law if the management company don't do anything useful. In other words, the building company has an economic incentive to construct the shittiest possible building with no attention at all to energy efficiency or ease of maintenance; all that is somebody else's problem. The management company have no economic incentive to look after the building because doing so erodes their profits.