China’s efforts in recruiting educated Taiwanese citizens have placed Taiwan at a grave risk of suffering from a massive brain drain, experts warned.
Based on official government data 2015, over 720,000 of Taiwan’s 10 million strong workforce sought better job opportunities abroad, revealing that 72.5% of them have at least an undergraduate degree or higher.
According to Time, a vast majority of them have flocked to China, prompting fears that the Taiwanese economy may be put in jeopardy in the long run.
So far, it has caused Taiwan’s trade competitiveness to drop for four consecutive years, according to the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei 2017 Survey on Global Trade Environments and Growth Potential in Key and Emerging Markets, published earlier this year.
Besides Taiwan’s over-reliance on the Chinese market, the association cited two other factors in the decline: the competitiveness of emerging markets and Taiwan’s low salary environment, Focus Taiwan reports.
It is worth noting that since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was elected into office last year, cross-strait tensions have increased. Beijing cut all official communication after Tsai Ing-wen refused to acknowledge the inclusion of Taiwan into Beijing’s ‘One China’ policy.
Meanwhile, China has reportedly raised its job and education incentives recently, prompting observers to point out that China is using its economic advantage to win not just the minds of the younger generation, but their hearts as well.
In reaction to China’s aggressive campaigns to attract Taiwanese youth, Taiwan’s Liberty Times (via Japan Times) accused China of trying to divide the island by steering young people away from their political ideals.
“If young generations can’t see hope in Taiwan and feel pessimistic about the future, and if poverty becomes a fact, how can they feel the obligation to insist on democracy and defend ideals?” it asked.
According to Shih Cheng-feng, a political analyst at National Dong Hwa University, there is an underlying reason why China is now targeting the youth.
“China realizes that it needs to take a soft approach and use ‘carrots’ to attract (young people) in the hope that they will have some impact at critical time, such as the presidential election,” Shih said.
“Young people may not actively support Beijing’s agenda, but their hostilities can be reduced and that for Beijing is a worthwhile investment,” he added.
Oxford Economics predicts that by 2021 Taiwan may suffer the biggest talent shortfall in the world if the trend remains unabated.