The NT$463 billion (US$15.78 billion) Taoyuan Aerotropolis, one of the government’s flagship projects to revitalize the economy, could become a haven for Chinese capital and labor, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said yesterday.
Hsu suspects that the government is ready to bring in Chinese white-collar workers and investment to the planned “free-trade economic zone” because it has been tight-lipped about how it will relax personnel and investment regulations for the zone.
Supported by the Taoyuan County and the central government, the project is a 6,150 hectare urban planning development at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport that involves expanding existing airport terminals and establishing an aerospace industrial park. Also planned are special zones for cargo, passenger and logistics services, and the project’s ultimate goal is to become a global logistic hub in East Asia.
The government estimates that the project, scheduled to be completed by 2030, will bring in about NT$2.3 trillion in economic benefits and NT$84 billion in annual tax revenues, as well as creating 260,000 jobs.
Hsu said that if President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration intends to have China be the primary source of investment and labor for the free-trade zone, it was taking a serious risk.
Beijing has been actively engaged in infrastructure projects, such as ports, airports and railways, in Eastern Europe and Italy in recent years, bringing in investments, technicians and their families and eventually transforming those areas into “China towns,” Hsu said.
Putting the China factor aside, Hsu said the project’s funding would raise concerns despite claims by Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chih-kuo (毛治國) that the project would not require money from the central government.
Hsu said that according to the National Audit Office, the national debt now exceeds NT$5.5 trillion.
Meanwhile, Mao said he has moved land management officials from the National Expressway Engineering Bureau, Railway Reconstruction Bureau and the Bureau of High Speed Rail under the authority of the Civil Aeronautic Administration (CAA), because the CAA will need to have sufficient personnel to handle the development of the 3,200 hectare plot of land needed for the Taoyaun International Airport Zone, one of the eight zones comprising the Taoyuan Aerotropolis.
“The most important thing right now is that our land expropriation plan must be approved by Ministry of the Interior,” Mao said, adding that the transport ministry had secured the full support of the ministry.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan and CNA