The two “China” parties — the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — say they only want what is best for Taiwan when it comes to trade and economic exchanges across the Taiwan Strait. Chinese officials have even said that Taiwanese businesspeople go to China to make money off the backs of the Chinese.
However, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and SEF Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) have exposed the claims for the lies that they are. Chiang has said that “over the past 20 years, Taiwanese investment in China has exceeded NT$4.8 trillion [US$148.7 billion], and so it cannot be denied that China’s economic growth owes a lot to Taiwanese businesspeople.” Kao has said that “Taiwan was opened up to Chinese investment in June, but to date, investments only stand at NT$1.19 billion, not a very large sum.”
Putting it more bluntly, investment by Taiwanese businesspeople in China is a bit like trying to scare off dogs by throwing food at them. As Chinese officials would have it, Taiwanese businesspeople enjoy preferential investment conditions in China, as if to say that Taiwan is enjoying unilateral benefits while China is making sacrifices for the sake of Taiwan.
What is the reality? China-bound Taiwanese investors are sacrificing Taiwan and helping China achieve its goals.
Over the past 20 years, Taiwan’s economic development has dropped to negative growth, unemployment has reached new heights with no signs of falling and salaries have fallen to the levels of 13 years ago, while China’s economy continues to grow at double-digit rates. It is also rapidly increasing the number of missiles it has aimed at Taiwan and claims that it will “buy Taiwan.” The question is whether this situation is beneficial to Taiwan, or to China.
As far as the government is concerned, Chinese investment in Taiwan is limited, and the way to deal with this is to deregulate even more areas. This is suicidal. We must not place any hope in Chinese investment: The more there is, the greater the danger to Taiwan. On the one hand, Chinese investment is fueling housing prices and the stock market, increasing the suffering of Taiwanese while doing nothing to create local employment. On the other hand, these investments are used to buy up Taiwanese businesses and gradually gain control over the economy. Chinese are even buying up media outlets through returning Taiwanese businesspeople to promote unification and oppose independence. Their involvement in local elections is even more frightening.
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) responded to Chiang and Kao by saying that many Chinese businesspeople have told him they are worried about frequent protests in Taiwan, which they find frightening.
However, Beijing has total control over whether there will be any Chinese investment in Taiwan, and whether Chinese money will flow in or out of Taiwan. The best example of this is when the Chinese government banned Chinese tourists from visiting Kaohsiung after the Australian documentary about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer was screened at the Kaohsiung Film Festival earlier this year.
In the same way, Chinese investments are used to whet the appetite of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and entice him to make even more concessions so that China can gain leverage over Taiwan’s sovereignty in the same way that it has gained leverage in the Taiwanese economy.