Possible ban on Taobao Taiwan enrages locals

By Huang Lanlan Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/26 22:56:21

Screenshot of Taobao Taiwan site

Taiwan's separatist authority appears to be setting the stage to ban e-commerce platform Taobao Taiwan, as it did two other mainland internet platforms last week, sparking more outrage among shoppers and experts who condemned the government for playing politics at the cost of local people's interests.

Taiwan on Monday fined online shopping platform NT$410,000 ($13,951) and ordered it to either withdraw from the market or restructure its ownership 

The government equates Taobao Taiwan, a registered UK company, as subsidiary of Chinese mainland's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which owns 28.77 percent of Taobao Taiwan.  The Local authority said Taobao Taiwan violates Taiwan's investment rules, which treats investment by foreign countries differently than mainland investment.

A possibility of a ban on Taobao Taiwan has astonished and angered local residents who are still reeling after the Tsai Ing-wen authority banned the mainland streaming services providers Tencent and iQIYI last week. 

Some residents reached by the Global Times complained that the bans create an additional financial burden to them, as Taiwan's stagnant economy and the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many people to live with less.

A resident of New Taipei City, surnamed Chen, who often buys clothes from Taobao Taiwan, said the platform is popular among Taiwan people because prices are usually much lower than those of similar quality found on Taiwan's local shopping sites. 

Chen pointed to product that sold for 20 yuan ($2.9) on Taobao Taiwan but was listed NT$399 ($58) on the island's native e-commerce platform Momo. "For ordinary people who have to pay rents and feed their children on low salaries, Taobao Taiwan is a good platform to save money," Chen said told the Global Times Tuesday.

The popularity of Taobao Taiwan has helped deepen ties between Taiwan residents and the mainland, which the local authority reluctant to see, said Taiwan financial scholar Yu Chih-pin. "The Tsai government is trying all means to isolate the link [between the mainland and Taiwan] with its political conspiracies," he said.

Chen worries that the Taiwan people's cost of living will rise if Taobao Taiwan is forced off the island. 

"There are numerous poor people on the island struggling to make a living, but the Tsai authority doesn't seem to care whether they live or die," she sighed.

By considering Taobao Taiwan to be a mainland-backed enterprises, the Tsai government is fawning over the US and imitating its potential ban on the mainland's apps TikTok and WeChat, said Taiwan native Tang, who also buys from Taobao Taiwan. 

"I'm bored with the Tsai authority's tricks (targeting the mainland) like this," Tang told the Global Times.

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