An agreement Taiwan and China plan to sign on the fishing industry at next week’s cross-strait talks will not lead to more Chinese workers entering the country, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.
In a statement, the council said it had been 15 years since the government first allowed the hiring of Chinese fishermen and next week’s agreement will not change the system.
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) will meet his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), in Taichung next week, where the two sides will sign agreements on the fishing industry, quality checks for agricultural products, cross-strait inspections and certification, and preventing double taxation.
The agreement on the fishing industry aims to ensure the quality of Chinese fishermen and protect Taiwanese owners of fishing boats, it said.
With a shortage of Taiwanese fishermen, it said the government had allowed Chinese fishermen to work on deep-sea fishing boats since 1991 and off-shore fishing boats since 1993. Since 1993, Chinese fishermen have been allowed to rest or take temporary shelter on shore in special areas near harbors. Except for medical emergencies, they are banned from leaving the areas, the council said.
Without the agreement, the statement said, there was no way of checking the identities of Chinese fishermen or screening them. Figures show there have been 25 cases of Chinese fishermen hijacking Taiwanese fishing boats, nine violent mutinies that resulted in deaths and 402 Chinese fishermen escaping into Taiwan, 252 of whom were later caught, it said.
“They not only caused severe losses to our fishing boat owners, but also cost the government massive amounts of money,” it said.
Under the agreement, however, Chinese fishermen would be brought in by authorized Chinese and Taiwanese brokers and Chinese firms would be held responsible for any losses caused by intentional or major misconduct by Chinese fishermen, it said.
Meanwhile, the MAC yesterday said the agreement on double taxation would not take effect unless the legislature passes amendments to Article 25-2 of the Act Governing Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例).
Deputy Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) said the government had signed bilateral tax exemption agreements with 16 countries since 1981. If the revisions fail to pass the legislature, Taipei and Beijing will have no legal basis to negotiate on dual taxation, he said.
Article 25-2 empowers the Ministry of Finance to regulate taxation matters with laws or administrative decrees. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has proposed amending it to empower the legislature to examine such decrees.
Chang said there are 800,000 Taiwanese merchants based in China, most of whom want Taiwan and China to ink an agreement on dual taxation.
Dismissing concerns that the agreement would give the Chinese government easy access to the tax information of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople, Chang said they would only offer such information in cases of tax evasion.
For the 16 countries that have signed bilateral tax exemption agreements, the government has only provided tax information eight times, he said.
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