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Wednesday, June 30, 2010


DPP Adverts warn of ECFA dangers to Taiwanese

The DPP have produced these two videos below as criticism of the ECFA trade agreement and what they argue are its likely effects on Taiwanese. In the first we see a new well qualified graduate lose a job to a competitor from China and in the second we overhear a conversation by two businessmen celebrating ECFA's benefits for them. Interestingly, given recent discussion on the Taiwan blogsphere about the use of 'Dalu' or mainland by Taiwanese (indicating their internalisation of China as a bigger part of their own country), both videos below use the phrase repeatedly. I feel it might more benefit the DPP if they were more careful to use the word Chung-guo rather than Dalu where possible in future.

有ECFA真好?- ECFA哪裡好三部曲之二



At 6:55 AM, Blogger Adam said...

I didn't like that first video at all. I think it's xenophobic.
If Chinese are willing to work for so little it's because the heavy exploitation they face from capitalists in China (some of whom are Taiwanese-Terry Guo) who leave them little choice. So, I think Taiwanese should feel sympathy for them.
Also, there are benefits to Chinese workers coming to Taiwan. Besides working here, they will also puchase goods from Taiwanese owned stores etc...
I also wonder whether after going through all the trouble of getting a NTU degree (more trouble than for a local Taiwanese) and all these certificates, they would still be willing to work for half of what Taiwanese work for. The price of living in Taiwan is quite high compared to in China, so it wouldn't make sense for them to accept such low wages.
Finally, such videos encourage the bosses to pay Chinese workers less ( and thus create downward pressure on wages). If there is an atmosphere of hate between Taiwanese workers and Chinese workers, than Chinese workers wouldn't dare stand up for their right to a decent wage.

At 9:00 PM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Adam, the biggest beneficiary of all this will be the Chinese government. The way to bring across-the-board benefits to Chinese workers is to get rid of that entire system, and ECFA isn't the means to that goal.

Saying that Chinese workers "purchas[ing] goods from Taiwanese[-]owned stores" will bring "benefits" to Taiwan seems to be a bit of a stretch. Think, for example, about the amount of revenue lost due to the reduced numbers of Japanese tourists -- who spend much more than their Chinese counterparts. Again, this isn't the way to achieve economic benefits.

"[S]uch videos" have nothing to do with encouraging bosses to pay Chinese workers less. That's simply the unfortunate current market situation (not that I approve), and even if Taiwanese bosses take the initiative to pay them more, wages will still decrease in Taiwan, on average.

And how about the heavy-duty financial assistance (to the tune of NT$30,000 per month) the Ma government wants to give Chinese students (and NT$63,000 per month to "artists" for living expenses). Is that what you call "more trouble" for them?

You might also want to consider what kind of Chinese students will be coming here in addition to the ones who are already here.

"[X]enophobic"? I wouldn't characterize it that way at all.

Finally, the Ma Ying-jeou administration has continually made pleasant-sounding statements/promises (633, TAIEX up to 20,000, Ma won't double as party chairman, no unification, ROC = Taiwan, we won't negotiate with China until they remove the missiles targeting Taiwan, we don't oppose referendums, we'll look into the destruction of your farmland within a week, we will support human rights, we aren't itching to execute anybody) which end up being either totally empty promises or candy-coated poison, so why would anyone trust them about ECFA (it's economic, not political, we'll negotiate transparently, you can only approve the entire ECFA -- you can't approve or amend it line-by-line, etc.), which Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has openly stated "will certainly bring about complete unification of the motherland" [sic]?

Tim Maddog

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Adam said...

I didn't say I was in favor of the ECFA. But, I thought that video was in poor taste (maybe I shouldn't have used the word xenophobic. How about stereotypical?)
Chinese workers aren't going to crowd out Japanese tourists. It's the Chinese tour groups that are doing that.
Having large numbers of immigrant workers in America has really stimulated the economy. In Taiwan having migrant laborers has really stimulated the economy as well. New terminal at Taoyuan Airport, Taipei 101, MRT systems-all constructed with much migrant laborers. So, I do wonder if having Chinese workers come to Taiwan will bring similar benefits.
"Such videos" might have to do with bosses paying workers less. As I said, "If there is an atmosphere of hate between Taiwanese workers and Chinese workers, than Chinese workers wouldn't dare stand up for their right to a decent wage."
I'm not sure about the issue of financial assistance the Ma government is going to give to Chinese students. I'll have to do a little more research into that issue. I know that lots of Taiwanese Universities are facing low enrollment and I think one reason for that is that their degrees don't get you anywhere. You are better off without 'em. If Chinese students are going to be going to these types of Universities. They will need luck to find a job in Taiwan, or anywhere, when they are done.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Ben Goren said...


Thanks for your responses.

I too thought that the Chinese student character was 'over the top' - the problem with it being not only that real Chinese students might not recognise themselves in that character and might also take offense at its crudity and borderline racism, but also that Taiwanese might not ever encounter one student from China like that, misleading Taiwanese into not correctly assessing the potential threat correctly. The second video is better for characterising the selfish and short sighted nature of many Taiwanese businesspeople.

In regard to wages, three Taiwanese friends of mine assured me that Chinese workers would not be able to work for half the fee or NT$15000 a month simply because the minimum wage regulates graduate pay and because it would be impossible for them to afford rent, food and travel never mind remit money home. Again the real threat is not that wages will be halved but that already low wages will be depressed further - from around 23,000 to 20,000. The economy grows yet the minimum wage shrinks in real and relative terms. Does that benefit Taiwanese graduates? So, we can agree that the video is hyperbolic but, in its defense, it is trying to get an warning across in a country where nuance leads to paralysis - emotive people respond most emotionally to media that is designed to emote fear and / or support.

I don't know about an atmosphere of hate. I think the way Chinese workers have already been introduced will remain the same - intense for a particular project, restricted to site, non mixed workforce e.g. Chinese Laborers, Taiwanese management. There are already many Chinese working in the white-collar sector but the low numbers mean that Taiwanese don't feel threatened.

Finally, I sympathise with Chinese who have to live under a totalitarian regime which controls its entire economy and facilitates awful working conditions in both domestic and foreign owned companies in order to maintain its hold on power. That's no excuse to offer to work at illegally low wages leading to a wage war between companies as they find a way to cook their books to show that they pay minimum wage and health whilst actually paying a lot less, to the detriment of domestic demand and hitting those who would otherwise be looking to save to build families the most.

These are the multiple and inherent dangers of entering into closer economic partnership with China that the videos are trying to illustrate - dangers that too many Taiwanese feel unable to deal with or ignorant thereof. The DPP wants to tell Taiwanese to be on their guard - the media they choose may be crude but its effective because, like all good propaganda, it is built upon serious concerns in fact.

The ECFA will benefit and impoverish many different people. All I am saying is lets look at this agreement very very carefully and then put it to a vote of all the electorate - such a complex agreement deserves that as a minimum, especially given the political background in which it has taken place.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Ben Goren said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Ben Goren said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Adam said...

The DPP wants to tell Taiwanese to be on their guard - the media they choose may be crude but its effective because, like all good propaganda, it is built upon serious concerns in fact.

But, by being so "Over the top" aren't they wrecking their own credibility? Also, how will light-blues and swing voters react to this. I thought that the red-shirts were stupid to talk exclusively to pro-blues. No one else paid any attention to them. They didn't accomplish anything.
Isn't the DPP making the same mistake?


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