Wed, May 07, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Enticing the prodigals back home

According to Taiwanese financial expert Hsieh Chin-ho (謝金河), China's annual economic output is US$230 billion, about half of which is revenue from exports by Taiwanese businesses operating in that country. Such businesses have played an important role in promoting China's economic prosperity since the 1990s.

However, it was exactly during those times -- when then president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was insisting on the "No haste, be patient" policy -- that Beijing's propaganda machine kept singing a chorus with this country's pro-unification media, predicting doom for Taiwan's economy and misleading Taiwanese businesspeople into believing that China would be their promised land. Thus many entrepreneurs closed their local factories -- some moving their plants to China, while others sent their money there while declaring bankruptcy here. Without any feeling for sense of justice, others sold out Taiwan by raising a huge amounts of funds here and moving them across the Taiwan Strait.

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.

This story has been viewed 2917 times.
TOP top