Gov’t backs opening of printing sector to China



TAIPEI — The Ministry of Culture yesterday threw its weight behind the opening of Taiwan’s printing industry to China under a service trade pact, saying it believes current government measures can assure that the opening will not have a negative impact on Taiwan’s publishing sector.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission, responsible for the screening and approval of foreign investment projects in Taiwan, has blocked many Chinese-related investments since Taiwan opened its book retail and wholesale businesses to China in 2009, the ministry said in a statement. Among those rejected are China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Corp. and Beijing-based Cathay Bookshop, according to the ministry.

It said the commission’s screening measures are effective and capable of safeguarding Taiwan’s publishing sector.

Opponents, however, are concerned that the service trade pact, which will open up Taiwan’s printing business but not its publishing industry to Chinese investors, will allow China to censor Taiwanese publications.

The service trade pact, which was signed between Taiwan and China in June last year, will allow Chinese companies to obtain a stake of no more than 50 percent in Taiwanese printing service providers.

In the statement, the ministry also denied ever pushing for a cross Taiwan Strait cultural agreement and said it has no plans to open Taiwan’s publishing sector to China.

The ministry’s statement came after writers and people from the publishing sector formed an alliance a day earlier calling for the monitoring of culture-related agreements signed with China and demanded that the ministry come up with a detailed development plan for the publishing industry.

Writers, artists, film directors and people from the publishing industry initiated a petition on April 9 calling on the Ministry of Culture to fully communicate with the cultural sector before signing any cultural agreements with China.

In response, the ministry has invited people from the cultural sector to participate in three upcoming forums to exchange views on publishing policies.

The forums will take place April 30, May 13 and May 28 and will address topics related to independent bookstores, a single pricing scheme for publications, and the present and future of Taiwan’s publishing industry, the ministry said.