Responses from a number of Taiwanese college students approached about their opinion on China and the possibility of working there suggested that they are more practical and open-minded than politicians on either side of the Taiwan Strait, who might be too heavily burdened by history and politics.
The students’ outlook might spring from the Internet explosion that helped form the global village in which they grew up.
Specifically, the students were asked about China’s announcement of 31 measures said to provide preferential treatment for Taiwanese who choose to work in China.
“It’s important that local talent stays and contributes to the country,” said Hsu Chia-hao (許家豪), a graduate student in the Department of Chemical Engineering at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. “Living in the lap of luxury is not what I’m pursuing, so I’m not interested in seeking a job in China. I also think it’s important that local talent stays and contributes to Taiwan. Although I might not earn much here because wages are low and living expenses are high, I belong here.”
If an attractive salary package is the only concern, working in China is a better career decision, said Tsai Li-hung, a student in the Department of Business Administration at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, adding that a growing number of Taiwanese young people are choosing to do that.
“Taiwan was far ahead of China in terms of competitiveness a few years ago. It is now falling behind. I’m worried about what the future holds for Taiwan, but I will stay to help Taiwan remain competitive,” Tsai added. “That’s the only way we can nurture future generations.”
Yang Li-huan (楊立寰), a student in the Department of Civil Engineering of National Chiao Tung University, said: “Although landing a job in China is easier than in Taiwan, I don’t think that I will be settling down there for good. What China wants is to acquire know-how from us. When they get what they want, we get sacked.”
Cooperation between Taiwanese and Chinese businesses is usually not viable long-term, Yang said, adding that the main worry among Taiwanese doing business in China is that they will be forced to transfer technology to Chinese enterprises.
In view of this, Taiwanese who invest or work in China will not benefit Taiwan, he added, expressing the hope that Taiwan will figure out how to best design an environment that supports innovation so that young people can live up to their potential in Taiwan.
Lee Ying-hsueh (李盈學), a student in the Department of Mathematics at National Tsing Hua University, said that when it comes to salary, benefits and perks, working in China can be alluring.
“If I decide to work in China, I would not go without some hesitation because there are serious downsides to living there — civil liberties and freedom of expression are severely restricted, and the safety of personal information is not guaranteed,” Lee said. “I don’t think that it’s easy for Taiwanese to change their national identity just because of offers from China. Most Taiwanese have faith in our country.”
Hung Wei-cheng (洪偉程), a student in the Department of Industrial Management at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, said he knows some older schoolmates who are working in China and earn a bigger salary than in Taiwan, adding that new graduates with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in Taiwan are likely to have a monthly salary of NT$30,000.
“I would consider working in China if the pay was double. Salary is the only concern. As I’m young, I have little to lose and a whole lot of experience to gain,” he said.
There are quite a few internships in China offered by Chinese-owned banks that are advertised at National Tsing Hua University, Department of Economics student Chen Yu-chieh (陳瑀婕) said.
“They are very popular. It’s a chance to get to know China firsthand rather than through the lens of the media,” she said.
Lin Ying-fen (林瑛芬), a student in the Department of Human Resources Development at National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, said: “The political situation cannot be resolved right now... What’s more important for us is to make ourselves more competitive.”
Lin learned from a professor about an opportunity to work as an intern at a Chinese-owned enterprise in Chongqing that would allow her to turn the internship into a full-time job after graduation, she said, adding that she is considering applying for the job.
Jeff Wang (王澤豫), a student in the Department of Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, said that working abroad is his career plan, because there are so many people with advanced degrees in the field of electrical engineering that it has made the local job market very competitive.
Many countries are engaged in the race for talent and China is no different, he said, adding: “I know people say that China’s offer was politically motivated, but I didn’t see it that way. As I said, it’s a global race. In any case, how can I afford to worry about politics if I can’t find a job?”
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