The Chinese government’s objective in wanting Taiwan to open up the nation’s elderly care to Chinese investment is to politically influence older Taiwanese, Taiwan National University sociology professor Lin Wan-i (林萬億) said.
Lin said that Taiwan’s elderly care industry suffers from low profit rates and rigid limitations, adding that care homes of fewer than 49 beds with income rates per bed of NT$20,000 nationwide, receive only between NT$150,000 and NT$200,000 per month in revenue.
The cross-strait service trade pact, Lin said, would enable significant Chinese investment into small elderly care homes with fewer than 49 beds, 24-hour care homes under 29 beds and small day-care homes for the physically and mentally handicapped catering to fewer than 76 individuals.
However, Lin said, Taiwan’s investors wanting to enter China’s market would only be allowed to establish care homes in two Chinese provinces, under the pact, which must be independently funded.
“I cannot believe that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is stupid enough to include social services in the cross-strait service trade pact,” Lin said in a recent interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).
He added that the Ma government was effectively setting up 2.7 million elderly and 1.1 million handicapped Taiwanese as “potential hostages” to Chinese propaganda.
“The Ma administration ignores the public’s emotional anchor in belonging to the nation,” Lin said, describing the government’s trade-in-services agreement as a willingness to sacrifice individuals, families and whole communities alongside the nation’s social services.
Lin said that though the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Chinese investors would not be able to hold more than 50 percent of shares in any businesses, if Chinese investors represented 49 percent of the board, they would be a large shareholder with considerable influence.
The pact does not restrict Chinese investors from investing in only one business per person, and it is easy to find others to pose as dummy accounts to buy out smaller care homes to establish Chinese-owned chains, Lin said.
Lin added that of the nation’s 1,035 elderly care homes, 87 percent or 896 establishments — which is the number of establishments with fewer than 49 beds — would be hit the hardest through loss of employment, should the pact be ratified.
Only six of the physically and mentally handicapped care homes of 276 across the country would be minimally impacted, he said.
Lin said if Chinese investors were to invest in or buy out all care homes legally open to their investment in the nation, there would be 300,000 elderly Taiwanese under the care of Chinese investors.
He said the investors would attempt to influence the elderly in the care homes and create the sense that “Chinese are caring for the Taiwanese elderly.”
Once this is established, the elderly may in turn influence their family who come to visit, he said, adding that the care homes under Chinese investment may also treat pan-green and pan-blue patients differently.
Lin also said that due to clauses in the pact stating that investors may bring along two “staff members” once investment funds reach US$200,000, visa extensions could be granted indefinitely, leaving Chinese investors and their “staff” enjoying the next best thing to permanent residence. The numbers of such “staff,” he forecast, could reach more than 2,000.