The Central News Agency (CNA) offers parts of an exclusive interview with President-elect Ma on the China money issue:

President-elect Ma Ying-jeou said Friday that he will propose anti-speculation legislation that will prevent Chinese investors from trying to make quick profits in the local real estate market.

Ma said in an exclusive interview with the Central News Agency (CNA) that his government will seek to normalize economic relations between Taiwan and China while maintaining Taiwan’s national security and dignity.

As an example, Ma said his government would allow Chinese investors to invest in Taiwan’s real estate market but also pass supplementary measures to prevent speculators from manipulating the market to make quick gains.

Under the measure, Chinese investors will not be allowed to resell the properties they buy in Taiwan within five years after making the purchase, he said.

Ma also warned that speculative capital might come not just from China but also from Southeast Asian countries and said the new government will take action against any speculative moves.

A law that prevents investors from “the mainland area” as Ma refers to it, from engaging in speculation, shows a number of currents in Taiwan society — the idea that China needs to be restrained is something that the KMT hacked on the DPP for. And something that nations around China routinely engage it. It also shows ghosts of an underlying agrarian, or perhaps Confucian, horror of mercantile speculation. Taiwan’s land use laws are rigid and appear to be primarily aimed at enabling local development and concrete firms to make big bucks putting up hideous cookie cutter concrete pestholes. One wonders how the laws will need to be revised…. last month a group of tycoons lead by the owner of Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV visited Taiwan to see what the pickings were real estate wise, and there was one in November of 2007 as well.

This China Post article also explains why so many in Taipei are praying for real estate investment from China:

Feng explained that following the previous Chinese New Year, local Taiwan banks announced that they would stop lending money to buyers of apartments smaller than 20 ping (66 square meters). With the subprime crisis expanding worldwide, Taiwan banks have also learned to be careful when lending money, she said, noting that buyers of small apartments usually face more financial constraints.

“Taiwan people still want to invest in the housing market,” she went on, “but they are waiting for the right moment.”

Last Tuesday, Yeh Kuo-hua, a manager in charge of the luxury housing department of Yungching Real Estate Co., said that not only had the number of transactions in Taipei City and Taipei County shown a substantial decrease, but the prices of the luxury housing units sold in October also dropped about 5 percent.

Taiwan is already open for Chinese real estate investment, beginning in 2002, all that is required is a permit application. In other words, the framework, including restrictions, already exists, and was required by the WTO. One wonders how the WTO would view a law that discriminated against Chinese investors — and if Ma and Beijing will slide around by saying WTO doesn’t apply because the two sides are “One Country.” Finally, what investor would want to buy a property that he couldn’t sell when he pleased — and why would other potential buyers support a law that took properties off the market for years at a time? Probably the government will install a “case by case” fig leaf — looking at “speculative” sales on a case by case basis — which will, like all such Taiwan regulations, have no teeth and permit anything to happen in practice.

For those interested, China Information, put out by the China Center at Leiden University, hosts an article on Taiwan’s opening to China under the WTO rules out just this year.