Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: China influencing Taiwan via firms: expert

Wu Jieh-min, a researcher at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology, has said in the past that he has applied the concept of “cross-strait political and commercial alliances” to denote the increasing buildup of political and business links across the Strait, and to warn of transactions involving the trade of political power for financial gain. In a recent interview with Tzou Jiing-wen, a staff reporter with the ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’), Wu said that the Chinese Communist Party is using these alliances to leverage its influence on Taiwan’s internal politics

Foreigners in general would use the Employment Services Act (就業服務法), which has more stringent regulations and higher requirements. For Chinese workers, they would be regulated under the Act Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the People of the Mainland Area, and the provisions and measures derived from this act. Professor Lee Chien-hung (李建鴻) put it aptly: He said the system governing regulations in Taiwan is designed for “one country, two systems.” On the surface it looks like setting up protection, but in reality, it is to open the backdoor to Chinese companies.

LT: Some people say that capital is capital. Do we have to put up extra safeguards on Chinese capital and cross-strait capital?

Wu: Yes, it can seem that way, but in reality it is not.

The cross-strait dealings and flow of capital is part of the overall free movement of capital in the global economy. The trend toward trade liberalization across the Taiwan Strait is also one of the links in the globalization process.

However, carefully monitoring these “transnational corporations” reveals that they basically only cover two countries. Take the ASE Group as an example: Its manufacturing bases are mainly in China and Taiwan, but at the same time, it set up a number of financial holdings companies to enable the manipulation of its accounting. They were all set up in tax haven countries, such as in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Therefore this kind of “globalization” is actually only locked into the commercial activities across the Taiwan Strait. So-called globalization for the “Greater China Region” is actually resulting in becoming “locked up in China.”

Capitalism as practiced in China has the very strong characteristic of being transactions between political power and money. This attracts and absorbs the cross-strait capitals and entrepreneurs to entice them to participate in the Boao Forum and the Zijin Mountain Cross-Strait Entrepreneur Summit. Thus, they are able to enter the privileged clubs for the ruling elites and wealthy capitalist class. Issues such as human rights and working conditions will not be on the agenda among these political and business elites.

In addition, China has designs on the territorial and sovereignty claims by Taiwan. This makes cross-strait business interactions more complicated. Thus, for criticisms leveled at the cross-strait service trade agreement, besides coming from the perspectives of fighting against neo-liberal globalization doctrine, safeguarding the rights and benefits of the underprivileged and preserving social stability, it should also take into account Taiwan’s national security, the national policies for industry development and other perspectives.

Taiwan is facing the two trends of neo-liberal globalization and economic growth, which are the twin strands of the same double-helix structure, and both of which are increasingly reliant on China.

LT: How do you think Taiwan should strengthen its policies to deal with this?

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