Reactions mixed on cross-strait service trade pact

Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Taiwan and China signed a service trade pact in Shanghai Friday to open the service sectors on both sides, a move that immediately drew mixed reactions from industries in Taiwan. Under the pact, China agrees to open up its e-commerce, printing, hospitals, construction, transportation, tourism, entertainment, funeral services and securities businesses to Taiwanese operators. Taiwan, meanwhile, agrees to allow China to run printing, car rental, cargo transportation, gondolas, beauty parlors and salons, gaming and funeral services operations. The decision to let Chinese capital enter Taiwan's printing industry has drawn fierce opposition from local business owners concerned that Chinese capital will descend upon Taiwan's often small-scale printing businesses and squeeze out local owners from the market. Wang Cheng-hui, general manager of the Taipei-based Chinese Creation Publishing Co., said he was shocked that the government did not even hold a public hearing on the subject before including the print industry in the pact. The pact allows Chinese capital to print any publishing materials in Taiwan, but Taiwanese capital can only be used to print packaging materials and flyers in China, a move Taiwanese printers condemned as "unequal." Liang Chin-hsing, general manager of the Taipei-based publishing company Wanjuan Lou, said publishing and printing businesses are run together by state-owned companies in China. In contrast, Taiwan's publishing and printing businesses are run separately by small and medium-sized companies, he noted, adding that the term set in the service trade pact will eventually allow Chinese capital to consume Taiwan's publishing industry. Turning to the movie industry, Taiwan's decision to allow 15 Chinese movies to be released and aired in Taiwan each year was welcomed by film director Chu Yen-ping. Citing "You Are the Apple of My Eye," "Black and White" and "Love" as examples, Chu said the three films garnered 80 million Chinese yuan (US$2.6 million) in box office sales in China, but he added that the same cannot be said for Chinese films aired in Taiwan's far smaller market. He also said that joint cross-strait film projects will help introduce Taiwanese films to the broader Asian market. In terms of the transportation industry, China allows Taiwanese capital to run cargo and dock facilities in Fujian Province. However, shipping and cargo industry officials in Taiwan said China already allows foreign capital (excluding Taiwanese capital) to run cargo transport, dock facilities and even port construction in many places in China, without restricting them just to Fujian Province. Meanwhile, several civic groups, including the Cross-Strait Agreement Watch and the Awakening Foundation, urged the government not to give China an effective date for the service trade pact until it has been fully reviewed by the Legislature. The groups will stage a protest in front of the Executive Yuan June 24 against what they said is the government's opaque way of handling the pact. (By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Ann Chen)