With Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s reelection earlier this month signalling continued stability in cross-strait relations, The Diplomat speaks to academics in Taipei about a new pilot project that will allow Taiwanese citizens to register certain small businesses in several Chinese cities and provinces as “individual and industrial commercial households.” While sentiment suggests that many of the so-called taishang would be willing to move to China, observers differed on how the new policy would impact ties between the two sides:
Hu Sheng-Cheng, an economist at Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s most renowned research institute, cautioned that although the Chinese State Council announced that there will be a new regulation, it has yet to provide details.
“The actual effect is difficult to assess but likely not big. Although the central government puts in place the law, it will not necessarily make a real difference as the major obstacle taishang face has always been local governments’ many kinds of rules,” he argued.
But Hsu Yu-fang, a political commentator and associate professor at National Dong Hwa University’s Department of Sinophone Literatures, believes that Beijing’s move will pay off, nonetheless. He sees the new rule as bound to tie the Taiwanese economy closer to the mainland.
“It’s very clear that the creation of dependence is the purpose. Apart from rolling out the red carpet for petty entrepreneurs, the Chinese government also energetically demands that Taiwan opens more to Chinese investment,” Hsu said.