China has extended its probe into Taiwan’s trade restrictions on 2,455 Chinese products. The investigation was supposed to end by this Thursday, but will be extended by three months to Jan. 12, 2024, one day before Taiwan’s general elections. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council says the act is politically motivated. According to scholar Chang Wu-ueh of Tamkang University, Beijing is attempting to sway the outcome on Election Day.
In April of this year, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce launched a probe into Taiwan’s import restrictions on Chinese products. It was expected to announce the results this week. But just one day before Taiwan’s National Day, the ministry announced that due to the complexities of the case, it would extend the investigation period by three months to Jan. 12, 2024. That’s one day before Taiwan’s general elections. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council urged Beijing to stop playing politics with trade.
Voice of Chang Wu-ueh
Tamkang University’s Institute of Mainland China Studies
They want the Taiwanese people to feel that there are benefits to be gained from political trust. And that without political trust, Beijing will take measures it deems necessary, potentially adjusting ECFA’s early harvest list.
Wang Mei-hua (Oct. 4)
Taiwan and China are both members of the WTO. China states that we’ve continued to impose import restrictions on Chinese products. Does that violate the guidelines of the WTO? We are very happy to negotiate that issue within the WTO framework.
Earlier this month, finance specialist Hsieh Chin-ho 謝金河 predicted that economics minister Wang Mei-hua would be the next target of China’s cognitive warfare. He said Beijing may seek to remove Wang from her post, by suspending the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, ECFA. After China extended its probe, Wang’s ministry reiterated that it would help Taiwan businesses prepare for the impact. The ministry said it was willing to negotiate with China under the framework of the World Trade Organization.
It’s not necessarily the case that cross-strait trade will cease. However, Taiwan industries linked to China, such as petrochemicals, transport, machinery, and textiles, will definitely see a reduction in export orders.
Experts say that if China erects trade barriers and terminates ECFA, Taiwan will suffer a maximum loss of US$20.5 billion, accounting for 4.3% of last year’s export value. But experts don’t see China calling trade to a complete halt. Instead, it might cut products from ECFA’s early harvest list, such as petrochemicals, textiles, machinery, and transport. With three months to go before the elections, China’s attempts to intervene are becoming increasingly clear.
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