Forum warns of residency card trap

NO BENEFITS::Other than facilitating online purchases, academics said China’s new card does not offer any material advantage and is a tool for promoting propaganda

By Chung Li-hua and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Sep 08, 2018 - Page 3

With the Chinese government’s new residency card system taking effect on Sunday, Taiwanese students and teachers in China might be forced to apply for the cards if they wanted to access the so-called “31 incentives” offered to Taiwanese, National Tsing Hua University professor Lin Thung-hung (林宗弘) said at a seminar in Hsinchu yesterday.

The card would greatly reduce the “gray area” afforded Taiwanese by the “Taiwan compatriot travel documents” (台胞證) — permits issued to Taiwanese by Chinese authorities for travel to China — and Taiwanese would find it more difficult to avoid its political implications, said Lin, director of the university’s Center for Contemporary China.

The card does not offer anything that the compatriot pass does not, other than facilitating purchases of plane or railway tickets and other items online, he said.

The card could also become a requisite for chartering planes back to Taiwan, allowing the Chinese government to further push its “united front” rhetoric, Lin said.

Other promised benefits, such as land purchases or rent discounts, have failed to materialize, he said.

While offering no concrete advantages, the card might require Taiwanese businesspeople to pay taxes to the Chinese government, Cross-Strait Policy Association secretary-general Wang Zhin-sheng (王智盛) said.

The Mainland Affairs Council should, in the interest of national security, establish a system that would register Taiwanese who hold Chinese residency cards, he said.

Students, teachers and other professionals are more likely to be affected by the new system, Wang said.

China has suffered a brain drain in the academia, because of a system that is heavily reliant on connections to the Chinese Communist Party, which severely restricts freedom of speech and research, he said.

That is why China is recruiting students in the region, he added.

In 2106 alone, China had 545,000 students studying abroad, but only 440,000 foreign students, including 66,000 from South Korea, 20,000 from the US, 15,000 from Japan and 11,000 from Taiwan.

Foreign companies might pull out of China because of the escalating trade war with the US, which would reduce job opportunities for Taiwanese in China, National Tsing Hua University professor Cheng Chih-peng (鄭志鵬) said.

Cheng called on students to consider their options and avoid the fate of Taiwanese businesses, whose profits are “shackled” to China.