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Taiwan services to face onslaught from China after ECFA: DPP
Government denies Chinese white-collar workers coming
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2010-04-06 02:46 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – After the eventual signing of an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China, the jobs of up to 3.21 million Taiwanese employees in the services sector will be at risk, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said Tuesday.

The party comments followed a report in the Chinese-language Liberty Times daily that the government was using an executive order to change the rules to allow white-collar workers from China to find jobs in Taiwan.

President Ma Ying-jeou, who wants both sides to sign the agreement in June, always mentions the advantages of opening the Chinese services sector to Taiwan, but never talks about the fact that Taiwan will have to open up its services to China, the DPP said.

Because of the close linguistic and cultural background of the Chinese, opening up Taiwan’s services employment market would endanger the jobs of attorneys, accountants and architects, but also employees in a wide range of other sectors such as finance, education, transportation, medicine and the audiovisual industries, according to the DPP.

Taiwan’s top ECFA negotiator, Huang Chih-peng, denied that ECFA would include allowing Chinese white-collar employees to work in Taiwan. Huang is the director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. He led the Taiwanese delegation at two rounds of ECFA talks with China, last January in Beijing and on March 31-April 1 in Taoyuan County.

Liu Chien-hsin, deputy executive director of DPP Policy Committee, said that recognizing Chinese diplomas and allowing Chinese citizens to work in Taiwan’s services sector would force down the wages of local employees.

An opening of the services market was avoided when Taiwan and China both joined the World Trade Organization in 2002, but it would be harder to stop once the two countries signed the ECFA, labor activists cautioned. Hong Kong was already facing a threat to its low-wage workers after signing a Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with China, activists said.

National Taiwan University economics professor Kenneth Lin said that in the financial sector, only low-wage jobs would be left, leading to takeovers by Chinese financial groups and to the demise of Taipei as a financial center.

ECFA negotiator Huang said professionals from China such as attorneys and doctors would not be allowed to practice in Taiwan, though he acknowledged that businesses in 20 types of services could bring in high-ranking Chinese managers.

With a minimum investment or turnover amount of US$200,000, they could apply to employ two Chinese citizens. Per increase of US$500,000, the companies could add one Chinese employee, but only for a total of seven, Huang said.

The limited amount of Chinese managers would create extra jobs for Taiwanese citizens, he said.

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