During his trip to China, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) met with representatives of Taiwanese businesses in China at a forum in Shanghai on Sunday. One of these representatives, Susan Tung (董淑貞), president of a UK-registered company based in China, told the forum that it was time for the KMT to focus on cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and that Taiwan would not stand a chance if Chu were to listen to “other voices in Taiwan.”
Tung added that there are more than 350,000 Taiwanese-Chinese couples and, if family members were included, that figure could easily reach more than 1 million people who could return to Taiwan to vote. With this army of voters, “how could the KMT not win?” Tung asked.
Tung heads Tung Global Financial Trading UK. She did not hold back in her speech, revealing how the interests of Taiwanese businesses in China are intimately tied to Beijing. She has become a vanguard for her peers, preoccupied with how politics could be brought to bear to protect China, with precious little regard for democratic principles or the interests of other Taiwanese. She has no problem exploiting cross-strait marriages as an intimidation tactic to influence the presidential election to maintain her economic interests in China. Her unambiguous comments were met with some alarm in Taiwan.
Even more alarming is that Tung is vice president of the worldwide Friends of Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) Association, a member of the Overseas Community Affairs Council and the World League for Freedom and Democracy. She is also an overseas executive member of the CCP’s United Front Work Department and the overseas representative of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of Jiangxi Province. Her wide-ranging and complex roster of positions have been criticized by Taiwanese media, which have questioned where her loyalties ultimately lie: with China, Taiwan or the UK?
This form of shifting loyalties among overseas Taiwanese businesspeople was the subject of Scott Kastner’s book Political Conflict and Economic Interdependence Across the Taiwan Strait and Beyond. In the book, Kastner talks about how China, seeking unification, would need the support of Taiwanese “political allies,” and how China-based Taiwanese businesspeople are the best candidates for this role. While Beijing continues to reinforce its military intimidation, it is also strengthening its ties with the Taiwanese business community in China, in a pincer movement aimed at securing unification.
In previous elections, many major Taiwanese investors in China have put up money and resources to support the KMT. The triumvirate of the CCP, the KMT in Taiwan and Taiwanese businesspeople in China have become a prodigious pro-unification “united front” that not only has huge corporate capital at its disposal, but also controls large numbers of workers, and is intimately involved in providing basic essentials — including the mainstream media — in Taiwan. This has already been set into motion for the presidential election next year.
This whole affair has opened eyes in Taiwan to the problem of shifting loyalties. The public is more aware that, even though these individuals have their roots in Taiwan, they have also come under Beijing’s spell. When businesspeople become pro-unification, they do so to a degree even more extreme than the KMT government. They no longer recognize Taiwan, but have instead become “Chinese citizens.”
This incident has also drawn attention to the issue of absentee voting, together with extended voting rights for Chinese spouses. While many countries practice absentee voting, it carries with it potential political dangers that need to be looked into.
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