According to Taiwanese financial expert Hsieh Chin-ho (
However, it was exactly during those times -- when then president Lee Teng-hui (
With severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) wreaking havoc across China, Beijing's habit of covering up reality is finally evident to the entire global community. International pressure has forced Beijing to announce daily updates of its SARS figures. The Chinese Communist Party leaders have contributed to more than 500 deaths around the world, and tens of thousands of people being quarantined. And the epidemic continues to spread. The impact on Taiwan is also yet to peak.
On the one hand, the economic losses incurred by SARS are so large that it is difficult to estimate. International airlines and tourism businesses are bearing the brunt of it. The gravity of this impact may even exceed that of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the US. No matter how the SARS tempest ends, it will surely be a serious loss of face for China in the international community.
The epidemic will inevitably damage the credibility of the Chinese Communist Party in the eyes of the Chinese people. It is hard to predict how strong the public resentment will be, but such factors will seriously erode the foundations of communist rule in China and create political instability. Beijing's credibility is bankrupt both at home and abroad, its reputation on a nose dive.
Many Taiwanese businessespeople, who have put all their eggs in the China basket in recent years, should now be wondering how long their businesses will last? Given that the lives of Taiwanese businesspeople in China are in danger and their business future is in jeopardy, we believe now is the time to attract them back home.
At such a crucial juncture, the government should quickly face up to the factors that caused those businesses to leave in the first place -- an unreasonable taxation system, for example, including inheritance taxes that can amount to more than 50 percent.
The government should also demonstrate efficient administration and create a better investment environment. For example, it should formulate a set of policies to actively help returning businesses find land for their factories, upgrade their technologies and increase their competitiveness. This may help change the nation's economic prospects after the SARS outbreak is over.
The key is in whether the government can demonstrate the drive and determination needed to create new prospects for the country.