English contract vs. Chinese contract

I understand from past threads, and from Richard’s “H Agenda” column this past Friday, May 9, 2003, that the Chinese language version of a contract is considered the legally binding version.

My question is, supposing that a school provides teachers with an English contract which is not the same as the Chinese contract, for the purpose of deceiving the teacher as to their actual rights, are they breaking any law, or would such a practice be legal?

This is a hypothetical question, nothing which has happened to me (so far as I know).

p.s. I know this has been asked before but supposing I want to read Richard’s column again and I can’t find May 9th Friday’s China Post, what then.

[Moderator’s note: I suggest that you write to the China Post PRIME TIME Editor, and suggest that these essays be published in book form.]

Normally the English contract states clearly that in any disputes that the Chinese contract takes precedence. Whether their was an intent by the employer to deceive the employee would be seen as a moot point by the Taiwanese judge.

I believe, Mr. Hartzell has pointed out that Taiwanese judges do not see foreigners as qualifying for civil rights in Taiwan. I believe all but the most enlightened judges would feel that the foreigner deserved it for not properly understanding the Chinese contract and what it says.

I have heard from attorneys and correct me if I’m wrong, but contract law is not as strong in Taiwan as it is in the West. A judge won’t enforce a contract but will instead mediate it. A key distinction for anyone considering take their employer to court for not properly fulfilling his terms of the contract. Things are changing, slowly.

In the “The Ethics of Relations between Workers and Capitalists,” known in Chinese as “Laogong Xingzheng Zazhishe,” breakdowns in relations between capitalists and workers are interpreted as a failure to adhere to traditional norms/moral codes. It also breaks up obligations into 2 categories, relative and absolute. Absolute obligations must be completed no matter how the other party acts or behaves, these are mostly on the worker. Capitalists benefit by mostly having relative obligations these are interpreted as obligations that may or may not be done irregardless of how the other party acts or behaves. This was written and distributed in the 1990’s by the KMT and I think it accurately describes Chinese views of worker/capitalist relations as seen by the ruling party and the bueracracy it put in place.
Source- “Living Rooms as Factories” by Ping-Chun Hsiung

From the reading on Chinese business management practices, any breakdown of relations is seen as cuased by the worker failing to adhere to proper moral codes with no onus cast on the owner irregardless of the improper actions orchestrated by him. It’s a common thread in a lot of articles, books, reports, and quotes put forth by Asian gov’t and business circles.

Basically your screwed, if the Chinese contract says something deifferent and you don’t know it.


PS mistercrisps, I have an article written by Battle-Scarred that I think somewhat accurately states how the employers see contract workers. If you want I can PM it to you.

I stand behind what I said in the China Post. If the employer breaks the contract for no good reason, you should mediate through the local city/county government Bureau of Labor Affairs first, and then file a civil suit for damages.

With a bit of fear and trepidation, I’m going to take issue with Hartzell’s views in a logical non-name calling enviroment. I respect his work, though I know not the man.

If the contract is not being properly adhered to in a bad way, will mediation even work? Will they even show up? I think maybe for real misunderstandings, but how will the boss feel when his power and authority are challenged by gov’t. arbitration. We are still working with a generation that still remembers and still sees the corrupt gov’t and the White Terror period.

An easier solution, for the employer, would be to cancel the worker’s ARC, file a complaint of some sort, and ignore the whole thing. The worker has 7 days to leave the country and use to not be able to get a new ARC till the prior contract expired in some counties. How do you pursue legal action in a country that you can not legally reside and work in? How will you support yourself and pay attorney fees?

Things are changing, slowly but surely. The problem I have with the next part:

[quote]and then file a civil suit for damages[/quote].

From my understanding employers in Taiwan(anywhere actually) take this very personally. Anything done wrong will ber put forth and even somethings they just made up. I tried this action after my first job here and I didn’t go through with it, except to send a letter of demand. The cost and time would of been prohibitive for scant reward. I don’t do Pyrrhic victories. This is before any labor arbitration board was around or even heard of.

The sums at hand in such disputes are normally low($10-60,000NT). The cost to get them back in labor arbitration are low and I would highly recommend that choice with conditions. In most cases I’d consider the amount lost the price of doing business in Taiwan. Care must be taken as to your choice of working arrangements. I do not know how ARCs will be treated in the future. A cancelled ARC before contract expiration may cause you to be unable to have legal work till your old contract expires. Important point for my more law-abiding comrades. Does anyone have information on how this will be treated in the future? Tealit has become quite useless for such pertinent information(i.e. actual experience versus conjecture and heresy).

Any decision made should look toward the long-term financial gain and not the short-term emotional gratification. Emotion and revenge should play no part in your decision, though they probably will. We are only human.


It seems to me that this thread in in need of updating.

How is the experience of everyone in the “labor market” in Taiwan at the present time? Is it common to have English-Chinese bilingual employment contracts?

In every employment contract that I have ever seen, the agreement will state clearly that one version prevails and the other version is for reference only. The version that prevails can be, and often is, the English version.

To clarify… no, it is not common to see a bilingual contract. At least, not one where both of the languages are given equal weight in dealing with a dispute arising from the agreement. In fact, I have never seen such a contract.

The only situation I’ve ever seen that (both language versions equally binding) in is for treaties or agreements between nations, and in those cases there is an incredible amount of time devoted by large numbers of people to making sure (insofar as each side wants to make sure :smiley: ) that the two versions really are equivalent. I don’t think you would ever see that with a contract.