Presidential candidate for the KMT Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) on Monday proposed allowing students from China to work while studying in Taiwan.
Current regulations prohibit Chinese students studying in Taiwan from obtaining work permits or enrolling in the National Health Insurance (NHI) system. International students from countries other than China are eligible for both. However, the Cabinet just last week approved a change that would allow Chinese students to enroll in (NHI) effective next February. Hou says that if elected he would lift the ban on Chinese tourists to Taiwan and allow a significant number of Chinese students to study and work in Taiwan.
In response to Hou’s proposal, officials and legislators from the ruling DPP party have come out in public opposition to the change.
Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) on Wednesday said that Hou’s views have caused a lot of concern both within and outside Taiwan. He says that the world has been paying attention to the recession risks of the Chinese economy, and news of capital flight. He adds that Taiwan should not put all of its eggs in one economic basket and continue to work to expand trade relations with other countries.
Also on Wednesday, a spokesman for DPP presidential candidate Lai Ching-te’s (賴清德) campaign said that China has not been transparent about its economic and unemployment figures. They add that proposing this change during China’s economic downturn completely disregards the future job prospects and working rights of Taiwan's young people.
A spokesman for the Hou campaign made a statement on Wednesday saying that the DPP is once again resorting to smear tactics to win an election. He says that the KMT has consistently opposed China’s “one country, two systems” policy for Taiwan. However, the spokesman says that Hou’s policies toward China are aimed at reducing tensions and promoting mutual understanding.