China · Taiwan

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Slowly but surely, Taiwan is opening up to China. Not only is it opening up, but Taiwan seems to be pinning a lot of hopes on China regarding economic growth and investment, with local property the latest sector. Go to the Financial Times for this story about the first apartments in Taiwan that were backed by a mainland developer. These aren’t going cheap, with the starting price being NT$20 million (around US$600,000). It’s interesting that most of the buyers aren’t locals, but Hong Kongers, Singaporeans, and mainland Chinese. The article gives a good explanation on the restrictions faced by mainlanders in buying property in Taiwan, with the most restrictive and ridiculous being they can only remain in Taiwan for four months in a year after they buy property. In general, mainlanders aren’t allowed to work or live in Taiwan, unless they marry locals. While the article talks about Taiwan being wary and taking gradual steps to handle mainland property sales, I think the opposite might be a concern, that local developers might put too much hopes on mainland buyers and end up being disappointed. Taiwan isn’t the most appealing place to move to live, but the biggest issue is that mainlanders are treated as second-class people here, not to mention perceived as such by many locals. If Taiwan can liberalize its laws regarding mainlanders living and working here, that’d be a great step. However there’d also be the issue of acceptance by locals, with Hong Kong proving a good example of what happens when you attract other people in to buy and invest in your society, but don’t accept them. I must say, the towers look great, though it’s not common to see high-profile highrise towers in and around Taipei. Incidentally there are two such ones near my neighborhood but those are the only ones.

This is a sad story in China with a few complicated and sinister twists and turns. Basically, a girl allegedly got raped by a wealthy coal mining magnate, and after going to the authorities, wasn’t able to get her case investigated, even after going all the way to Beijing to “petition” her case. What makes it interesting, is the girl’s parents are high-level officials (and party members) in their city in Guizhou province. While the girl was desperate enough to contact the journalist about her story, the magnate claims he’s innocent and that the sex was consensual. Connections are key and while the girl’s parents have some clout, the magnate has even more. The account of being “intercepted” in Beijing by people hired by provincial authorities to prevent her from going to the central authorities is especially disturbing – “Most black jails I went to were small, dirty houses in faraway and unknown places,” she says. “But I never stayed a night.”

Meanwhile, Chinese UFC fighter Zhang Tiequan lost another fight yesterday at UFC in Macau (the first ever UFC event in China), making it his third straight loss in the UFC. Zhang lost by judges’ decision, which was better than his last fight when he got knocked out by a smaller Japanese fighter.

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