Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Academics warn about China’s gift

BRAIN DRAIN:Beijing’s incentives program offers opportunities for Taiwan’s firms, but risks heating up competition for talent, an industry leader said

By Yang Fu-i and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A package of 31 incentives for Taiwanese businesspeople and creative professionals announced by China on Wednesday last week is an attempt to draw all talent from Taiwan and leave it “poor and stupid,” academics said.

The incentives, announced by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, included tax cuts, investment capital and relaxed restrictions on certification for 134 professions. Twelve of the incentives are aimed at Taiwanese enterprises and 19 at individuals.

The incentives are “very strategic and systematic,” and are part of an attempt to use trade to promote unification, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Julian Kuo (郭正亮) said.

During the previous Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration, Beijing provided benefits, such as investment, trade and exchange opportunities, and now under the DPP administration it is trying to draw money and talent from Taiwan, he said.

The situation presents a serious challenge to the nation, he added.

The dropping of quotas for professional certification exams is causing an exodus of Taiwanese talent, while allowing Taiwanese enterprises to participate in the “Made in China 2025” initiative has caused an exodus of capital, he said.

Through its unilateral relaxation of restrictions in the electronics, financial and publishing sectors, China has bypassed the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement, he said.

A review of the agreement has been shelved in the legislature since it was halted by the 2014 Sunflower movement.

Beijing also plans to relax regulations on cross-strait cooperation in film and TV productions, following the removal of restrictions on Taiwanese publications and movies marketed in China.

Huang Chieh-cheng (黃介正), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said Beijing wants to attract Taiwanese elite to China, leaving Taiwan with no talent.

China’s strategy differs this time in its focus on the general public, instead of officials, he said.

The government should bring the nation’s corporate leaders to the table to discuss ways of keeping professionals in Taiwan, and even attracting Chinese talent to Taiwan.

Chinese Culture University College of Social Sciences dean Chao Chien-min (趙建民) said that China’s strategy of trying to drain Taiwan of its talent would not be viewed favorably by the Taiwanese public.

“Strategically attracting all of the nation’s talent will not be seen as an act of goodwill,” Chao said. “Instead, Taiwanese would be even more anxious about the state of cross-strait relations if China were to drain the nation’s talent and resources.”

This would work against Beijing’s aims of gaining the trust and confidence of Taiwanese, he added.

In related news, Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) chairman William Wong (王文淵) said that the Chinese package offers risks and opportunities for Taiwanese enterprises.

“China’s 31 incentives should be good news for Taiwanese companies,” Wong told a press conference.

However, the program might not be a good thing for Taiwan as a whole, as it is hard to say how the Chinese government would implement the new policy, he said, adding that it was likely to intensify international competition for the local talent.

FPG hopes to continue expanding its investments in China, partly to take advantage of its cultural similarities with Taiwan compared with other markets, such as the US and the Philippines, he said.

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