The government intends to enhance scrutiny over investment from Hong Kong to prevent illicit money from China “infiltrating” the economy, after Beijing imposed a National Security Law on the territory, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Taiwan has traditionally treated investment from Hong Kong and Macau as foreign investment, without the same controls and limits it has on money coming from China.
However, Beijing’s contentious new legislation for Hong Kong targets crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, and allows people to be sent to China for trial.
Taiwan is on alert to ensure any influx of Hong Kong money is not secretly coming from China.
“The line between Chinese money and Hong Kong and Macau money is less clear,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We hope that money from Hong Kong and Macau comes over here, but we don’t want Chinese money to benefit,” the source added.
“Investment from Hong Kong and Macau was originally treated as foreign investment, allowing them a greater investment scope, but now we have to pay attention to who is really pulling the strings,” the source said. “We will make national security part of our considerations for investment from Hong Kong and Macau at our discretion.”
There was US$150 million of investment from Hong Kong into Taiwan in the first five months of this year, 4 percent of total overseas investment in the nation.
The source said that the government would tweak legislation as needed to give it the legal right to review more closely investment from Hong Kong on national security grounds.
Chinese investment is already tightly controlled, although the source said that the government would be “taking stock” of how much there actually is in eight key sectors, including banking, energy, telecommunications and science parks.
“We must consider whether they have been infiltrated” by China, the source added. “We want to establish a defense mechanism.”
The source said that the government was aware of cases of technology security companies providing information services in those sectors being funded by illicit Chinese money.
“China is fighting an information war and a hacker war against us,” the source said. “Information security is national security.”
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