The opening up of Taiwan’s telecommunications enterprises to Chinese investors under the new service trade pact risks jeopardizing the nation’s freedoms of correspondence and speech, communication integrity and healthy exchange of ideas, according to the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) evaluation report on the recently inked cross-strait agreement.
“Given Chinese telecom companies’ cooperation with the Chinese government in screening and monitoring public opinion online and the fact that members of the Chinese Communist Party are based in such firms and exerting control over them, the agreement would mostly likely pose the aforementioned threats to Taiwan,” the report said.
Under the accord signed in Shanghai on June 21, the sectors in the Type II telecommunications enterprises to be open to Chinese investment include store and forward network service, store and retrieve network service and data exchange communication service.
The agreement will see Taiwan opening up another 63 service sectors to Chinese investors, while China will open 80 sectors.
The report said the accord could also exacerbate unemployment, poverty and public security problems, since the Taiwanese sectors included in the accord cover nearly every aspect of daily life, many of which are non-competitive, small and community-oriented industries.
“These sectors already had a hard time keeping their businesses afloat before the agreement was signed,” the report said.
“Now, they are left vulnerable as Chinese businesspeople invade Taiwan with their deep pockets to carve up the nation’s markets, and even take away jobs from Taiwanese by entering the country claiming to be a business proprietor or manager,” it said.
Singling out the Chinese herbal sector, which is covered by the accord, the report said that because the sector was a non-competitive industry and was overly dependent on imports of China-grown herbs, the party worries that the agreement could cause a technology outflow in the industry and endanger local businesses.
As for Taiwan’s hairdressing industry, one of the sectors expected to take the brunt of the agreement’s negative impacts, the report said that if Chinese businesses are allowed to invest in the industry and open salon chains in the country, Taiwanese women could face worse working conditions and fewer employment opportunities than they have now.
“Furthermore, it could cause the same impact on local hair salons as the one made by convenience store chains on traditional grocery stores,” the report added.
The report also questions the fairness of the accord, saying that strong service sectors, such as legal and accounting services, are exempted from the agreement because of their lobbying efforts, while small and medium-sized businesses and community-centered industries were sacrificed so that large-sized enterprises can invest in China’s financial sectors.
The large-scale exodus of Taiwanese businesses to China, coupled with the rising trend among local industries to receive their orders in Taiwan, but manufacture products in China, have contributed to the nation’s relatively high unemployment rate and an average salary that has remained stagnant over the past 16 years, the report said.
They have also impeded local businesses’ attempts to update and make structural adjustments, the report added.