A Chinese-language Business Weekly report published on Wednesday raised questions about why the government has not told the public that Chinese capital has already been invested in many Taiwanese companies, while alleging that the leaders of the two main political parties may be using the debate on the cross-strait services trade agreement for political posturing.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) have agreed to participate in a TV debate on the controversial agreement, which will be hosted by the Public Television Service on Sept 15.
According to Business Weekly, at least 162 types of services in the tertiary sector, as well as 204 in the manufacturing industry, have been opened up to Chinese investment since 2010.
Chinese investment in these fields is as high as 97 percent, the article said, adding that if the agreement is ratified by the legislature, nearly two-thirds of Taiwan’s tertiary sector and manufacturing industry would be opened up to Chinese investment.
There are 198 Chinese-invested companies in Greater Taipei alone and they are very diverse types and sizes, from large portside logistics companies to small gas-tank delivery stores.
These companies are the silent new neighbors of many Taiwanese and changes to policy are already too late, the article said, pointing to digital commerce as an example, saying that although it was not part of the cross-strait service trade agreement, Chinese Internet platforms such as Taobao (淘寶) are still accessible by Taiwanese.
New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店) — the registered location of six Chinese-funded businesses — has almost every industry, from furniture retailers, product desigers and restaurants to information technology firms and software designers, the article said.
Beixin Road in New Taipei City is also home to many Chinese-funded businesses, it said, adding that it is a virtual “Chinese Cayman Islands.”
Local residents said the companies had even attracted the attention of the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau when they set up three years ago.
“We hope that it’s not a front for a group of Chinese con artists,” a local resident said.
However, borough warden Hsu Hao-chen (許皓榛) said the companies maintained good relations with their neighbors and were run by Taiwanese employees.
Despite government assurances that if Chinese-funded businesses exceed the parameters of their registration licenses they would be reported and their licenses revoked, in reality the government is unable to make them toe the line, the article said.
The government should come clean and not use the debate — being funded by the taxpayer — for further political posturing, the article said.