The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) finances have been the subject of controversy and debate for more than two decades. A lawsuit filed on Wednesday by an unlikely plaintiff — a longtime party member — may finally succeed in providing a long overdue assessment of the party’s account books.
The debate over the KMT’s finances is hardly surprising, given that it arrived in Taiwan as a refugee — albeit a conquering one — and by the mid-1990s was judged to be one of the richest political parties in the world. The KMT prospered as dramatically as the nation during the hardscrabble one-party-state years that created Taiwan’s economic miracle.
Many of the KMT members who rotated between government and party posts or served concurrently were praised for their economic and financial acumen, with The Economist noting in a 1998 article that at one point in the late 1970s, the central bank governor was also the KMT’s top finance manager. The party consistently trumpeted its economic prowess on the campaign trail, including during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) first presidential bid and his re-election effort in 2012.
However, the party’s vast treasure chest and its campaign largesse have also created new problems. While the term “black gold” is commonly used to describe oil, by the 1990s in Taiwan it was shorthand for the KMT and political corruption.
Even as KMT lawmakers were able to thwart legislative efforts to force the party to account for and divest itself of “stolen” assets or to enact an effective sunshine law — including through the eight years of opposition rule — the nation’s economy began to stall and the party began to hemorrhage money. The KMT’s economic astuteness appeared to be failing.
By November 2004, the KMT made headlines with its inability to pay its full-time employees on time, while the Bank of Taiwan was pressing it to pay more than NT$300 million (US$9.4 million at current exchange rates) outstanding for months of preferential interest rates the bank had paid to retired KMT workers.
When Ma first ran for the KMT chairmanship in 2005, he promised to clean up the party and resolve the stolen asset controversy. He made the same promise when he ran again in 2009. Yet the party’s actions under his watch only created more controversy.
On Dec. 31 last year, KMT Deputy Secretary-
General Lin Te-jui (林德瑞) told the party’s Central Standing Committee that the KMT had about NT$1 billion in land and buildings and NT$23.23 billion worth of enterprises, but its assets had plunged from NT$62.8 billion in 2000 to NT$23.3 billion in 2006 as a result of investment losses. He also said that businesses the party used to run had all been placed in trust and it had not run for-profit corporations since 2007. Vice President and acting KMT chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) told the committee that none of the property the KMT holds had been obtained improperly.
Lin’s and Wu’s statements seemed to be the latest salvo in the party’s cover-your-hide efforts in the wake of the comment by New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) — the sole contender to be the next KMT boss — that the party “must return any ill-gotten assets to the nation.”
Attorney George Wang (王可富) this week demanded an accounting of the KMT’s financial failings from 13 top party officials and members — including Ma — whom he accused of breach of trust and embezzling NT$200 billion in party assets. He wants the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office to find out how the party managed to lose NT$39.5 billion between 2000 and 2006.
The party has never been willing to provide a detailed history and accounting of all its assets and transactions or documentation of its account management. Wang’s lawsuit, if it makes it to trial, may finally provide the leverage to force the KMT to open its books. Suffice it to say, there are many in this nation who hope he succeeds.
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
During my twenty-two years in the US Senate, I became a student of Taiwan and its history. I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, and have made at least 25 trips to Taiwan and have been invited as an observer to two of the nation’s presidential elections. Taiwan’s continuous economic miracle has seen the nation transition from a mixed agricultural-industrial society at the end of Japan’s 50 years of jurisdiction to today’s economic powerhouse, unmatched by most nations of the world. Just as outstanding has been Taiwan’s decades of resistance and