At the Fourth China Investment and Trade Symposium which was concluded on Monday, about 4,000 Taiwan businessmen attended the symposium and signed contracts worth about US$1.2 billion of investment. A new record was set compared with previous ones in terms of the number of participants, exhibition scale and investment value.
An authoritative person pointed out that these inspiring figures fully demonstrated the confidence and determination of Taiwan businessmen in investing in the mainland and forecasted a bright prospect for cross-Straits exchange and cooperation in the new century.
Latest statistics indicated that by the end of last June, the total volume of indirect trade between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits reached US$174.433 billion. From 1995 to 1999, the volume of indirect cross-Straits trade conducted via Hong Kong exceeded US$100 billion, doubling the sum total of the previous five years.
Taiwan earned a hefty surplus of US$116 billion from indirect trade with the mainland, which is of important significance to Taiwan Island's industrial restructuring and its economic stability and development.
Presently, a total of 45,000 Taiwan-funded enterprises have invested in the mainland with the contracted value amounting to US$45.756 billion and paid-in investment, US$24.89 billion, making the mainland the area for the export of the greatest direct Taiwan capital.
After the mainland's call for "three exchanges" (exchange of mails, trade and air and shipping services between Taiwan and the mainland) in 1979, Taiwan Straits, which had been ice frozen-up for over 30 years, began to thaw. Although the economic and trade exchanges between the two sides have gone through storm and stress, signs have indicated that the prospect will be bright for cross-Straits exchange.
He Shizhong, director of the Economic Bureau of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, pointed out that the contacts between the businessmen of the two sides have become more frequent, investment and trade promote each other, the scale and field of economic cooperation have kept expanding and deepening. A complementary and mutually-beneficial situation is taking shape.
The economic and trade exchanges between the two sides have also traversed a tortuous course: As early as 1979, the mainland expressed its sincere wish that "Taiwan enjoy a prospering economy", that "The two sides should develop trade and supply each other's needs". However, it was not until 1983 that the first Taiwan-funded enterprise was formally settled down in the mainland after overcoming much resistance put up by the Taiwan authorities.
From then on, although cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges had witnessed a sustained growth, Taiwan authorities, ignoring Taiwan people's aspirations, imposed various irrational restrictions on the direct "three exchanges", and thus delayed implementation of these exchanges. What's more, the so-called security tax to be collected from Taiwan investors in the mainland in accordance with Taiwan authorities' recent decision has aroused the strong resentment from among personages of various circles in Taiwan.
Despite the frustrations, the vigorous development trend of cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges is absolutely irresistible. Breaking through various kinds of restriction and resistance, many Taiwan compatriots flocked to invest in the mainland, which has forced the Taiwan authorities to gradually decontrol cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges.
In the first half of this year, Taiwan investment in the mainland reported a new high. The number of investment projects reached 1,399 and contracted Taiwan investment value hit US$1.99 billion, up 13.65 and 31.29 percent respectively over the same period last year.
The Asian financial crisis, which has just been over, has brought home to Taiwan investors in the mainland that the mainland is a haven where they can feel secured. China's approaching WTO entry has strengthened their confidence in the mainland's economic development.
Chang Chong-ben, deputy general manager of Taiwan "China Development Industrial Bank", pointed out in his article recently published in Taiwan media that Taiwan's raw material, technology and capital plus its sale and management methods, in combination with the mainland's vast market and plentiful labor force, will provide Taiwan's traditional industries with a regenerative environment. He called on the Taiwan businessmen to actively advance toward the mainland's market.
As sources say, Taiwan's traditional industry has entered the period of bumper harvest in the mainland of the motherland. With notable profits gained in the mainland, many Taiwan businessmen have constantly made additional investment to expand their business here. General manager of the President Group, Yen Po-ming, said: "Most of Taiwan's traditional industries are experiencing increasing hardship in Taiwan, unless they go to invest in the mainland, it would be difficult to inject fresh vigor into the enterprises."
Yang Ta-cheng, chairman of Shanghai Taiwan Investment Enterprises Association, said: "After 20 years of reform and opening up, the mainland of the motherland has built up an abundant economic strength, its approaching WTO accession, in particular, will bring about more business opportunities." He predicts that the coming five years will be crucial for Taiwan businessmen to explore the market in the mainland.
Many Taiwan businessmen have currently made new plans for investing in the mainland. In addition to traditional industries, centers of hi-tech industries have also begun to shift to the mainland.
Personages of economic circles think that the 20-year history of cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation indicates that the economic and trade exchanges have benefited the peoples of both sides, and have especially brought about huge benefits to Taiwan's economy. Currently, the potential of trade between the two sides has far from being brought into full play. Taiwan authorities still impose lots of restraints on it which, to some extent, have held up the development of the trade between the two sides.
Dai Shengtong, chairman of Taiwan Medium & Small Enterprises Association, maintains that it admits of no delay for Taiwan authorities to review its policy of "adopting patience instead of impatience". Taiwan's enterprises and economy will suffer if no adjustment is made to this policy.
Li Bingcai, deputy director of Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee and Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, pointed out that developing economic exchanges and cooperation between the two sides of the Straits is in the common interests of the compatriots of the two sides. The mainland will carry on the "One China, direct two-way and reciprocity and mutual benefit" principle and vigorously promote the conduction of the direct "three exchanges".
He indicated that Taiwan compatriots are encouraged to invest in the mainland, and to engage in other economic activities, and their lawful rights and interests are protected. In the future, the mainland will continue to carry out the "equal priority and appropriate relaxation" economic work principle toward Taiwan and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots according to law.