Taiwan business investments in mainland China have dropped by almost half from 61.2 per cent to 33.3 per cent in the past decade. This suggests that Taiwanese businesses are fleeing China in large numbers. Those who are still doing business in China face mounting business risks.
Lin Zonghong, a researcher at the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Taiwan recently spoke at an online forum regarding Taiwan business investment risks in the mainland. According to Lin, Taiwan business investment in the mainland can be divided into three stages. The first stage was from 1992 to 2007. That was when Taiwan’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the mainland kept rising. By 2002, it passed 60 percent of its total FDI. From the 2008 global financial crisis to 2014 when the Sunflower Student Movement broke out in Taiwan, FDI from Taiwan in Mainland reached its peak. The Sunflower Student Movement refers to a movement in which a coalition of students and civic groups organized to protest the passing of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) by the then ruling party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The third stage is post 2015 when Taiwan investments were withdrawn from the mainland and shifted to other southeast Asian countries and the U.S..
Lin believes that China’s FDI has been overstated because it includes investments from Hong Kong, which accounts for 75-80 percent of the total. Those investments from Hong Kong were originally from the mainland. They were re-directed through Hong Kong into the mainland just to qualify for foreign investment tax incentives. If the inflow from Hong Kong was excluded, China would have seen a negative FDI.
Since 2007, Taiwan businesses have been losing tax and labor benefits that they used to receive on the mainland. Many of them ended up moving to middle or western regions in China. In 2007, there were still 356 Taiwanese businesses in the mainland. By 2017, the number was 124. By 2020, only 108 were left. Also compared to Taiwan, business costs are higher in the mainland. The data suggests that the gross profit for Taiwan businesses operating in the mainland is less than it is for those operating in Taiwan.
Since Taiwan businesses entered the mainland in 1998, Taiwan has seen factory closures, unemployment, low wages among the younger generation and an increase in poverty. Lin reiterated that Taiwan businesses must understand the business risks in the mainland and look at the current business environment in the mainland as a warning for future business decisions.
Source: Epoch Times, October 17, 2021