The chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) conceded yesterday that there are no regulations preventing government officials from making personal investments in China and that this "could be very serious."
"There is no regulation against investments in China by government officials, whatever their position. This could be very serious," said MAC Chairwoman Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文), responding to reporters' questions about the regulatory position following a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's Home an Nations Committee at which she was grilled on the issue by a TSU lawmaker.
But she said that the government would "respond appropriately" if it identified any investment by one of its officials which gave rise to a conflict of interest.
Continuing a theme begun by his party on Tuesday when it named 11 former government officials it believes are employed in breach of Taiwanese law by Chinese organizations, TSU lawmaker Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) said that "more than one senior official in the Ministry of Economic Affairs has very valuable personal investments in China."
Tsai and the secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation, Shi Hwei-you (
"How can they make national policy without thinking about their own money," Chen asked.
He refused to identify the officials he had in mind, saying that he was collecting more evidence and planned to hold a press conference in a matter of days.
Tsai however said that the MAC does not as a rule scrutinize the assets of government officials but that it will now do so in the light of Chen's allegation. Government officials are required to declare their assets once a year.
"I had heard before the Cabinet reshuffle that some government officials had investments in China, but there is no regulation governing this issue," Tsai told reporters. "There is a strong possibility that government officials have invested in China, especially those who hold stock in companies investing there."
She added that, "If there were any conflict of interest, the issue would be one of civil servants' terms and conditions, not one of cross-strait policy."
Currently, Article 33 of the Statute Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area stipulates that "citizens of the Taiwan area" may not serve in Chinese organizations without the government's permission. Article 9 says that such citizens may not visit China without the government's permission. The statue does not mention investments by government officials in China.
TSU legislator Liao Pen-yen (
Tsai told the committee yesterday that the MAC will submit to the Legislative Yuan an amendment to the statute which will lift the ban on Taiwanese working for non-governmental Chinese organizations. But she emphasized that the ban on former civil servants taking posts in Chinese government or military departments will remain in force.