The Ministry of Economic Affairs is the main actor in economic policy implementation, but because it is incapable of opening up the nation, it is instead isolating it and welcoming Chinese capital and white-collar workers.
Last year, the average annual per capita income in China was US$4,944, one-quarter of Taiwan’s and one-tenth of the US’. A look at the monthly salaries of 500,000 Chinese undergraduates in 2010, six months after graduation, shows that the top five cities were Shenzhen at 3,280 yuan (US$534), Guangzhou at 3,234 yuan, Zhuhai at 3,191 yuan, Shanghai at 3,064 yuan and Beijing at 2,818 yuan. Even if the past few years of salary increases are included, Taiwan still looks attractive.
Now, the service trade agreement is kicking the door to the regional service industry wide open, allowing any number of so-called Chinese white-collar workers with US$200,000 in the bank to bring three households — nine people — to Taiwan.
On one hand, Chinese salaries are lower, and on the other, there are almost no geographical, linguistic or cultural obstacles to Chinese firms entering Taiwan.
Even with no political overtones, such an influx would cause a massive downward pressure on Taiwanese salaries. Given the unequal scale of Chinese and Taiwanese enterprises, the local industrial chain would be easily eliminated.
This is why many in the industries pushed to the frontline of this new challenge by the Ma administration are so upset.
In addition, Beijing will not overlook political considerations and such a policy was unambiguously laid down at the CCP’s 18th National Congress.
It is not very difficult to imagine what will happen next.
If the KMT is successful in using the second extraordinary legislative session later this month to push through the ratification of the service trade deal, Taiwan will suffer a mortal blow to its economic sovereignty.
This is tantamount to surrendering to China. With no other choice, Taiwan is left staring down a dead-end road. Whether the nation suffers death by a thousand cuts or from a single blow is up to China.
This simple truth is clear to all Taiwanese, but not to Ma.
According to a Chinese saying: “The people will revolt when pushed too far by officials,” and revolt may now be all that Taiwanese have left.
Translated by Perry Svensson