Taiwanese firms on mainland need Beijing's help, says envoy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 January, 2009, 12:00am

Taiwan's top envoy to the mainland hopes Beijing will provide substantial support to Taiwanese businesses operating on the mainland, after Beijing unveiled an economic co-operation package last year to help the island weather the financial crisis.

Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), arrived in Shenzhen yesterday for the first leg of a four-city mainland tour, during which he will visit Taiwanese businesses and lobby for policies that would ease the burden they face because of the global financial turmoil.

He said Taiwanese businesses were facing trouble from two sides and needed urgent assistance.

'They have been in business on the mainland for about two decades, and it is time for them to transform and upgrade their businesses to meet the challenges of a new business environment,' he said. 'Unfortunately, the situation becomes more complex and difficult because of the financial crisis.'

Chen Yunlin , chief of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats), said the central government would work with SEF on ways to provide timely assistance, especially on how to provide bank loans.

But he also stressed it was crucially important for Taiwanese businesses to show fighting spirit in times of hardship, instead of passively waiting for assistance.

'The visit is meant to inject much-needed confidence into Taiwanese businesses,' Mr Chen said. 'Confidence is crucial; otherwise, they will lose their fighting spirit and become passive, waiting for assistance.'

He also reminded Taiwanese enterprises of the need to upgrade their business models.

It is the first time Mr Chiang, who is also a Kuomintang vice-chairman, has visited the mainland as SEF chairman.

He will visit Shenzhen, Dongguan , Guangzhou and Nanjing and meet mainland officials and the Taiwanese business community.

Meanwhile, Yang Yi , a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, yesterday repeated Beijing's hope for the 'peaceful development of cross-straits relations' in the year to come.

He said at the next meetings between Arats and SEF, mainland officials would hold seminars with Taiwanese businessmen on the mainland to gauge their situation during the global financial crisis.

Mr Yang said the mainland was willing to work with Taiwan on its long-running request to join the World Health Assembly.

'We totally understand Taiwan's thoughts on this issue. We hope the two sides can work together and create conditions to further resolve the issue,' he said.

He said there were 207 flights carrying 33,682 passengers across the strait in the first two weeks after direct flights resumed on December 15.