China’s attempt to attract Taiwanese had ‘no obvious effect’

"The work environment in China is also deteriorating, which will discourage people from working there," Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA)-The 31 measures Beijing announced in February to attract more Taiwanese to work, study, live or start businesses in China have “had no obvious effect” in terms of accelerating the exodus of capital and talent, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Thursday.

The MAC released a report on the impact of the 31 measures and effectiveness of the 39 countermeasures the government introduced in March in response to the Chinese package.

In terms of outbound investment to China, the Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs has approved projects worth US$5.221 billion this year, a decrease of 2.77 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the report.

China’s 31 measures included 12 treating Taiwanese investors the same as their Chinese counterparts, and 19 aimed at loosening regulations to attract more Taiwanese students and professionals to live and work in China.

Some of the incentives aimed at individuals targeted faculties at Taiwan’s universities and talent in fields such as medicine, finance, culture and the film industry.

However, the MAC report did not indicate how many Taiwanese students and professionals have gone to China to study or work over the past six months, citing the lack of up to date statistics.

According to the report, about 407,000 Taiwan nationals worked in China in 2016, 55.9 percent of Taiwanese working overseas, a fall of 13,000 from the year before.

“In line with the decline in investment from Taiwan to China, we expected that the number of Taiwanese working in China will continue to shrink,” MAC Deputy Minister Lee Li-jane (李麗珍) said at a press conference.

“Meanwhile, the work environment in China is also deteriorating, which will discourage people from working there,” Lee said.

No university teacher from a public college in Taiwan has left to teach at a Chinese university since the implementation of the Chinese measures, while “there has been no marked change” in private universities in this regard as a result of the incentives, the report said.

The report said that Taiwan’s medical professionals have also become less enthusiastic about practicing in China. The number of applications filed with Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) for a certificate to practice in China from January to August stood at 108, it said.

The MOHW receives an average of about 200 applications for such certificates every year. In 2016, the number was 204, rising to 234 in 2017, the report said.

Of the 39 countermeasures aimed at developing a better business environment in Taiwan for investors and retaining talent, 23 have been implemented, Lee said, adding that the government plans to step up efforts to advance the other 16 measures.