China says investment will help unification with Taiwan

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By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING

BEIJING China’s Industry Minister, Miao Wei,
said on Saturday that investment across the Taiwan Strait can
help achieve China’s aim of achieving unification with the
self-ruled island, and called for Taiwan to be more open to
Chinese businesses.

China deems Taiwan a wayward province to be taken back by
force if necessary, though proudly democratic Taiwan has shown
no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after
losing a civil war with the Communists, but since a thaw began
in the 1980s Taiwanese businesses have poured money into China,
drawn by a common culture and language.

Chinese companies have also begun investing in Taiwan, but
have run into problems since last year’s election of Tsai
Ing-wen as president from the Democratic Progressive Party,
which espouses China’s formal independence, a red line for
Beijing.

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, though she says she
wants to maintain peace with China.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s
parliament, Miao said economic cooperation between both sides of
the Taiwan Strait had made huge progress in the last three
decades since the two began their detente.

China welcomes Taiwan chip companies to invest in China, he
added.

“Of course, we hope that openness is two-sided, not
one-sided,” Miao said.

“We encourage and support Taiwanese companies to develop in
the mainland, and at the same time Taiwan should have an even
more open attitude towards mainland companies entering Taiwan,”
he added.

“This way industry on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can
join hands to develop, which is good for both economies, and is
also extremely helpful for promoting the unification of our two
sides and achieving the aim of one China,” Miao said.

While his comments were broadcast live on state television,
the section about promoting unification was not included in the
official online transcript of his news conference, an ommission
that was likely a sign of China’s sensitivity about being seen
to use its companies to political ends.

Long-standing political tension between the neighbours has
seen Taiwan put restrictions on Chinese investments in its
prized semiconductor sector, with an eye to protecting
intellectual property and trade secrets.

At least three major deals have fallen through since Tsai
won last year’s election in Taiwan. All of them involved Chinese
state-backed giant Tsinghua Unigroup, which planed to invest
three chip test and packaging firms based in Taiwan: ChipMOS
Technologies Inc, Siliconware Precision Industries Co
Ltd (SPIL) and Powertech Technology Inc.

In December 2015, while on the campaign trail, Tsai called
Tsinghua Unigroup’s investment plans a “huge threat” to the
island’s semiconductor industry.



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