Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday paid what appeared to be an orchestrated visit to a Taipei hair salon that Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平) frequents, in a bid to assuage growing public concerns over the cross-strait service trade pact that was signed last month.
Surrounded by reporters, Wang explained the agreement to Shih’s hair stylist, identified only as Bossa, at the salon on Nanjing W Road, as she worked on Shih’s hair.
“The cross-strait pact targets China’s enormous service market. It aims to help explore potential markets for China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and other service sectors, while opening up more business opportunities for them,” Wang said.
“There is give-and-take in all agreements. Since China will open up 80 service sectors to Taiwan under the pact, Taiwan also has to open up some of its industries, such as the hairdressing industry, to China,” Wang said.
Wang said there was no need for those in the hairdressing industry to worry about the pact, because it would only open the door to Chinese investment, not Chinese hair stylists.
Under the agreement, Taiwan will open up 64 service sectors, including finance, healthcare, retail services, telecommunications, publishing and travel.
Wang’s visit was the second one in the past two weeks that he has made to a local business that could be impacted by the new pact. He went to a restaurant in Taipei’s Zhongshan District (中山) on June 29 to ask about the owner’s opinions on the pact.
Critics have said both visits were just political posturing that would neither help ease the service industry’s concerns nor reduce the negative impact the agreement could have on the local economy.
A former representative to Singapore, Shih said she never trusted hairdressers in other countries that she lived in and that whenever she returned to Taipei, the first thing she did was to book an appointment with Bossa.
“I always have my hair cut at the same hair salon and by the same hairdresser,” Shih said, adding that she would follow Bossa to whichever salon she worked at.
When asked her opinions on the trade service pact, Bossa said she had been in the hairdressing business for 13 years and had built a roster of loyal clients, many of whom were China-based Taiwanese businesspeople who would come to her whenever they returned to Taiwan.
“Honesty, I do not worry about the agreement. As long as I have the skills and can give my clients the best service and understand their needs, no one will ever be able to lure them away,” Bossa said.
Wang said Taiwanese hair stylists could stand up to Chinese competition because they were thoughtful, amiable and used sophisticated techniques.
“Their strengths are not something that people can outstrip simply by investing money in the industry,” Wang said.