Taiwan’s ambitious free economic pilot zones, touted by the government as an engine to drive economic growth, could lead to a mass influx of Chinese white-collar workers, an opposition lawmaker said on Friday.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said the degree to which the nation is opening its economy to China is already so high that it comes behind only Hong Kong and Singapore in the region, while Japan and South Korea are engaged in less free trade with China than Taiwan.
He said that at present, “the only things that Taiwan puts limits on are Chinese capital, white-collar workers and products.”
With the establishment of the government-orchestrated zones, restrictions on foreign investments — including from China — product imports, and fund inflows and outflows will be largely relaxed, resulting in a wider opening in the Taiwanese markets for China, Hsu said.
Lin Chih-mei (林至美), deputy head of the Council for Economic Planning and Development’s (CEDP) Department of Manpower Planning, said that companies hoping to set up business in the free economic zones are restricted from employing too many Chinese white-collar workers there.
Enterprises that want to bring Chinese workers must have an annual revenue of at least NT$5 million (US$170,000) if they have only been established for a year, while more experienced enterprises must have annual revenue of at least NT$10 million, Lin said.
The council has also set a ceiling on the import of Chinese white-collar employees, Lin said, adding that an enterprise employing at least 50 Taiwanese — half of whom being technicians — can have no more than 10 Chinese white-collar workers in the country.
The total number of Chinese white-collar workers hired by an enterprise will be limited to 40, Lin added.
To qualify to have that many Chinese employees in Taiwan, enterprises must have more than 200 Taiwanese workers, half of whom must be highly skilled technical professionals, she said.