Editorial: China moves in the shadows - Taipei Times
Tue, Mar 29, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: China moves in the shadows

Even as huge numbers of Taiwanese took to the streets last Saturday, Chi Mei Group founder Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍) released a retirement message which included the statement "Taiwan and the mainland belong to one China." He then sought to dissuade the government from supporting Taiwan's independence, saying this would only lead to war.

That Hsu, a business tycoon who has long been a staunch supporter of the pan-green camp, should release such a statement on the day of a rally in which hundreds of thousands of people voiced their rejection of China's enactment of the "Anti-Secession" Law is hardly coincidental. That this was shadowy attempt by China to undermine the March 26 demonstration is perfectly obvious.

Although the statement was signed by Hsu, both its content and wording suggested the work of another hand. Hsu is accustomed to speaking in Taiwanese and Japanese, and the carefully worded and neatly phrased statement is not convincing as a document voicing Hsu's own sentiments. Notably, some of the wording in the statement, such as the respectful reference to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as "chairman," and the reference to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) by his name without the use of his title -- especially given the long friendship between the two men -- suggests that there is more to this document than meets the eye.

Hsu is an entrepreneur with a strong sense of Taiwanese identity. During former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) administration, Hsu wrote to Lee asking when he would fulfill his promise to change the country's official name. Lee wrote back, telling him to learn from the Japanese shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, and wait patiently for the right moment to act.

Later, in the run-up to the 2000 presidential election, Hsu was a key member of then-presidential candidate Chen's National Policy Advisory Committee, and was made a senior policy adviser to the president after Chen was elected. Chi Mei has long been perceived as a pro-green camp enterprise, and Hsu has weathered many hardships as a result. Having survived so long, the fact that he has released statements at this crucial juncture that fly in the face of his previously expressed ideals -- and which are contrary to the interests of the Taiwanese people -- suggests that he has been put under unbearable pressure.

If China makes an example of Hsu, other Taiwanese businesspeople investing in China will hardly dare support the pan-green camp publicly anymore. With so many ways to threaten Taiwanese business interests in China, a company need only be suspected of pro-independence leanings to put its profits and its staff in danger.

This is yet another demonstration of China's oppression of Taiwan's freedom of speech and thought. The follow-on effect will mean that not only businesspeople, but Taiwanese as a whole, will suffer from restricted freedom. Even the public's right to remain silent may be restricted.

Hsu's action should come as a wake-up call about the government's "active opening, effective management" cross-strait policy. The continual increase in the rate at which businesses are moving to China is the result of this policy, and now 37 percent of Taiwanese exports are headed for Hong Kong and China.

It is time to strike back. Lee has called on the government to make an immediate change in its China policy, abandoning blind support for "active opening" in favor of a reprise of the "no haste, be patient" policy. This is certainly worth thinking about.

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