Taiwan Premier sternly warns against Beijing’s 31 sugarcoated measures

Premier William Lai said the measures are maliciously designed to take over Taiwan eventually

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Beijing recently announced 31 measures to welcome Taiwanese investment and talent, but Premier William Lai said on Tuesday, March 6, that the initiatives are, like the 1992 Consensus along with other incentives offered to Taiwanese, designed to unify Taiwan.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) official An Fengshan (安峰山) recently announced the 31 initiatives had been approved specifically for Taiwanese citizens who are working, studying, investing or living in China. Better known as the “favorable measures for Taiwanese (惠台措施),” Beijing is relaxing restrictions on cross-strait cooperation in most regulated industries including media, allowing Taiwanese companies in China to invest in sensitive government projects and enjoying tax exemption or tax refund.

Measures to lure Taiwanese investment include the eligibility to bid for government procurement contracts, investing in state-run businesses through joint ventures with Chinese companies, investing in construction projects under the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, and partnering with Chinese financial or non-financial institutions to offer small amount of mobile payment services for Taiwanese.

Some measures are set to attract Taiwanese talent to work in China or to participate in associations related to economy, technology, culture, art and other professions.

When asked by a lawmaker at a legislative interpellation on Tuesday about the increasing threat posed by China’s exponential growth in military spending and the 31 measures announced by the TAO on Feb. 28, Premier Lai said that his administration has held meetings with officials concerned, trying to hammer out practical solutions in response to the threat.

Lai added that the sugarcoated 31 measures are nothing more than old wine in new bottles ultimately set to take over Taiwan. He added that the new measures to relax rules for Taiwanese physicians, teachers and financial service providers to work in China are in part to make Taiwan’s brain drain problem worse and lose its competitive advantages, and the measures to allow investment in infrastructure are to make Taiwanese companies more dependent on China.

In response to the growing threats from China over the past years, the government of President Tsai Ing-wen has shifted its focus to the South and Southeast Asian, Pacific and Central American countries by enhancing cooperation and exchanges in an effort to reduce Taiwanese businesses’ dependence on China. Some political experts said that the 31 measures have also been designed as part of a plot to split up the island country.