I am an American from Kansas City. Taiwan is certainly not a nation of peasants. The current average income of the people of Taiwan is about $15,235 (USD). I lived in Taiwan as an English teacher for about 19 years, from 1998 – 2017. Peasants are very rare in Taiwan. Poverty and homelessness is a much bigger problem in the USA than in Taiwan. As a teacher in Taiwan I was pleased to discover that the educational system in Taiwan is much better than that in the USA. Nearly all students who graduate from high school are fluent in 2 or 3 languages and are better skilled in math and science than American students. In Chinese culture classrooms are run at a much faster pace than in American schools. In comparison American classrooms are much slower and more boring than schools in Taiwan.
One of the reasons why Americans think of foreign countries (e.g. Asia) as being a country of peasants is that when tourists go there they are looking for people and sights that are old and primitive to take pictures of. When they go home, they show their friends pictures of the primitive sights they went to. Their vacation seems more exciting that way. From my 19 years of experience in Taiwan I can say that Taiwanese people are much better savers than Americans are. Consequently, the average Taiwanese family has a great deal more money in savings than does an American family, and they are also more frugal so they do not show it.
The man in the picture is probably not a peasant but a farmer passing by. If you look in the background you will see a lot of modern cars on the road. From my experience Taiwanese people usually have more expensive cars than do Americans and they keep them up better. If you could follow the farmer home you might find out that his car is a Mercedes. When I drive to work in America, I see many cars on the road with broken out windows covered over by garbage bags or plastic sheets. When my Taiwanese wife sees them she thinks that the local people (Americans) are very pitiful!
The reason why we think of other countries as being poor and “third world” is due to the illusions we like to create about ourselves. The health of people in Taiwan is also better than that of Americans and so they have a longer lifespan. Just as we look on Taiwanese people as being “peasants” many Taiwanese people read about American and feel sorry for Americans and wish they could help them live a better life.