A newly signed service trade agreement with China can help Taiwanese publishers sell their products in China and invigorate Taiwan's entertainment industry without compromising on the core value of freedom of expression, the Ministry of Culture said on July 31.
China promises in the agreement to streamline the approval process for books published in Taiwan to be sold in its market, which is expected to help sales, the Ministry said in a report submitted to a hearing in the Legislative Yuan.
The value of Taiwan's book exports to China amounted to NT$117 million (US$3.9 million) in 2010, or 6.2 percent of the country's total book exports, up from 3.8 percent in 2008, according to Ministry statistics.
The service trade agreement will open up Taiwan's printing business to Chinese investors but not its publishing industry, the Ministry reiterated in its report, adding that mainland Chinese investment will also not be allowed in the wholesale, retail or distribution of books in Taiwan.
Regarding permission for Chinese investors to operate performance venues, the Ministry said that allowing them to jointly own and operate theaters and concert halls in conjunction with local partners could help invigorate the local market, but it added that they will not be allowed to build such venues.
On the opening of the film industry, the Ministry said the purpose of this is to allow Chinese movies to have their post production and printing done in Taiwan, a business that is worth NT$200 million per year, given the fact that some 800 movies are produced in China annually, more than 10 times the number of films made in Taiwan.
The hearing is part of a Legislative Yuan extraordinary session scheduled for July 30 through Aug. 9, which has been called in part to begin a review of the service trade agreement Taiwan signed with China on June 21.
Senior officials of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and business representatives were present to brief legislators on their views on the accord.
Fan Liang-tung, secretary-general of the Taiwan-based Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, told the legislators that the public should know more about the agreement, including how it will benefit Taiwan and what the downsides are.
The mass media have blown the possible negative impact out of proportion, while ignoring what Taiwan is set to gain from the agreement, according to Fan.
Two additional hearings have been planned for the following day, and the formal review of the trade pact by legislators is expected to begin when the Legislative Yuan reconvenes for its next regular session in September.
The agreement will take effect only after both Taiwan and China have completed their respective approval processes and have delivered a written notification to the other side of the Taiwan Strait.
The Legislative Yuan will undergo an extraordinary from July 30 through Aug. 9, which has been called in part to begin a review of the service trade agreement Taiwan signed with China on June 21. Senior officials of Cabinet-level ministries, including Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai (picture), were asked to submit research reports to legislators on their views on the accord.