Members of the Economic Democracy Union yesterday urged the government to establish a platform to help protect Taiwanese working or studying in China, amid increasing social instability and Beijing’s disregard for the rule of law.
Hsu Kuang-tse (許冠澤), a researcher at the think tank, told a briefing at the legislature in Taipei that when Taiwanese in China are arrested and imprisoned for personal disputes or contravening the law, their families are often left in the dark and receive little information from Taiwanese agencies.
The Cross-Strait Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (海峽兩岸投資保障和促進協議) of 2012 provides a protection mechanism for businesspeople and investors, obligating both sides of the Strait to notify the other within 24 hours of a person being detained, Hsu said.
Photo: Hsieh Chun-lin, Taipei Times
“But the agreement does not cover Taiwanese who go to China to study, work or live with family. We ask the government to be more proactive in obtaining information on detained people and to monitor their safety,” Hsu said, adding that there are many risks for Taiwanese in China, amid social and economic turbulence, and state interference in the justice system.
An academic surnamed Chang (張) said that he taught in China for three years, hoping to help students in rural areas, but faced abuse while there.
“I worked diligently for about 12 hours each day, preparing materials, teaching classes and writing papers to be published, and whatever work school officials asked of me, but I was often insulted and bullied by fellow teachers, and even the students, who are like jingoistic ‘Little Pink’ [a disparaging term to describe Chinese nationalists online], would disrespect me,” Chang said.
“Then the school would use some excuses to deduct a portion of my wage by about NT$500,000,” he added.
“They have no concept of human rights in China, and teacher’s rights are abused,” he said. “I received so much mental abuse, and returned to Taiwan when my work contract was up.”
Chang said that after counseling, he found out he had anxiety and depression, which resulted in a decline in his ability to function socially and hold a job.
“Now I need to have regular counseling and treatment,” he said.
Government data indicated that about 2,000 young Taiwanese teach at colleges or universities in China, he said.
“But [the government] has no data on workplace bullying, personal attacks and insults, and other abuses, which are not being reported,” he said.
Chang warned people to reconsider offers to work in China.
“China offering incentives and high wages for Taiwanese is a ‘political trap’ as part of a united front strategy to brainwash young Taiwanese and academics,” he said. “Anyone going to China after receiving a job offer must really think it over.”
New Power Party Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started a registry platform for Taiwanese traveling abroad in 2002, and the Mainland Affairs Council in 2019 launched a similar platform, with a 24-hour emergency hotline, for people traveling to Hong Kong and Macau.
A similar system should be created Taiwanese living, studying and working in China, Chiu said.
Mainland Affairs Council officials said that a contact platform is already in place to send messages to Taiwanese in China, and the agency is planning a central registry system for Taiwanese in China.
The Straits Exchange Foundation provides a 24-hour hotline for dealing with personal situations of Taiwanese in China, the council said.
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