Lawmaker cautions on service trade agreement

By Lee Yu-hsin and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sun, Jun 09, 2013 - Page 3

An opposition lawmaker on Friday warned of the potential detrimental impact of a planned cross-strait service trade agreement on the nation’s cultural and creative industries.

Straits Exchange Foundation Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said late last month that the agreement would likely be signed sometime this month.

A total of 55 industries in Taiwan have been selected for Chinese investment under the agreement, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said.

If inked, the agreement would be a major follow-up to the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which was signed in June 2010.

“Throughout the negotiations [for the cross-strait service trade agreement] our government just kept on conceding to demands made by China. Already we can see serious loopholes in regards to opening our market to Chinese movies,” Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said.

Hsu said that China does not have fixed evaluation criteria for Taiwanese films.

Taiwanese blockbusters Cape No. 7 (海角七號) and Monga (艋舺) were judged to contain materials contrary to official state ideology and were banned from distribution in China, Hsu added.

According to Hsu, the planned agreement would allow Chinese movies to have post-production and film-developing work done in Taiwan.

“On appearance, this seems good for us. However, the devil is in the details,” he said. “When a Chinese movie has post-production done here, it means Taiwanese contribued. In this way, it can become listed as a ‘Taiwanese movie.’ Thus, producers can circumvent the current limit of 15 Chinese movies for release in Taiwan each year.”

In response, Liu Shun-ming (劉順明), a specialist officer at the Ministry of Culture’s Department of Cultural Exchanges, said: “Our ministry has strict standards and requirements for Chinese movies with post-production in Taiwan.”

Liu said he does not believe the agreement would be harmful to Taiwan’s movie industry.

As for inspection and approval of Taiwanese movies by Chinese authorities, Liu said bilateral negotiations were ongoing and he urged China to show goodwill on these issues.

Hsu added that a similar situation had occurred in Europe.

In the past, the US, in the name of free markets, demanded that European countries remove “protectionism” and “domestic subsidy programs” from their movies and entertainment industries, Hsu said.

However, the French delegation that led the European negotiating team insisted on removing culture from the discussion, stressing that France would not open up its cultural economy to the US, especially the television and movie industries, Hsu added.