Beijing’s incentives for Taiwanese businesspeople to invest in China are only intended to lure them across the Taiwan Strait, after which they receive no real support, an expert said on Sunday.
Over the past few years, Beijing has been offering a number of incentives that “benefit Taiwanese in name, while benefiting China in reality,” a cross-strait affairs expert said on condition of anonymity.
Strategies such as the “31 incentives” are intended to lure Taiwanese talent, capital and technology to help address China’s economic issues while also furthering its “united front” efforts, they said.
Local governments in China do not offer much practical help once Taiwanese move there, leaving many nearly destitute if their ventures fail, they added.
There are a few hundred thousand such people in China, creating an issue for Chinese authorities, the expert said.
Beijing does not mention the risks at the outset, they said, urging Taiwanese to consider the risks before moving across the Strait.
There is an entire category of Taiwanese in China who moved there to start a business and later failed, and are now unwilling to return home out of shame, a Straits Exchange Foundation official said.
Some longtime residents have cut ties with loved ones in Taiwan, making it even harder to return, they said, adding that the foundation and Taiwanese business associations handle many cases in which families are unwilling to travel to China to handle funeral arrangements once the residents pass away.
For Taiwanese, there is considerable risk involved in starting a business in China, Cross-Strait Policy Association researcher Wu Se-chih (吳瑟致) said.
China in the past few years has set up many business parks offering incentives for Taiwanese to start businesses or work there, but after they arrive, many find that the offerings fall short of their expectations, Wu said.
Taiwanese entrepreneurs must also compete with Chinese in an unfamiliar setting, facing local governments that are unwilling to help and an economy in decline, he said.
A lack of cross-strait communication also hides the risks, including the possibility of being arrested for political reasons, he added.
“Chinese incentives for Taiwanese are only meant to trick them into moving over,” Wu said.
Whether for investment, starting a business or to work, Chinese authorities only offer consultation at best, but no practical or follow-up help, he said.
As for the issue of repatriation, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuo Kuo-wen (郭國文) said not all Taiwanese in China are in need of welfare, but if they are really disadvantaged, then the Taiwanese government should offer assistance.
However, each person’s circumstances should be taken into consideration, including their age and reasons for staying in China, he said.
The government could consider offering psychological counseling, he said, adding that the nation has an obligation to help citizens return home if they wish.
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