Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday said that Hsu Wen-long's (許文龍) advocacy of "one China" in a newspaper advertisement Saturday was his personal statement, and not the government's position.
Hsieh said he would try to understand what may have occurred behind the scenes to influence Hsu's move.
"The government's position is clear: we oppose any kind of `one China' principle unilaterally defined by China," Hsieh said during a visit to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum yesterday morning. "Hsu's words are not the government's policy."
Hsu, the founder of the Chi Mei Group and an adviser to the president, surprised many by publishing a letter on Saturday in a newspaper saying that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belonged to "one China," and that he opposed the Taiwan independence movement.
Hsu, who had been warned by China about his apparent pro-independence leanings, is generally seen as an advocate of a new Taiwanese nation and a good friend of the Democratic Progressive Party.
Hsieh said Hsu's statement was very strange to him and "I would like to understand more about his real intent."
Cabinet spokesman Chou Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said Hsu is a respectable businessman who has greatly contributed to the nation's economy.
He said it was more likely that Hsu had somehow been pressured into making the statement, rather than having a real change of heart.
"Beijing has been pressuring Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China to take a pro-China position, and it is likely that Beijing forces them to say things that go against their hearts," Chou said.
He said that most Taiwanese wouldn't believe such statements because they know they are not sincere.
"The premier chatted with Hsu in January," Chou said. "They exchanged views on business and politics. The premier did not detect any change in Hsu's political stance at that time."
Chou said, however, that Hsu's word might reflect the vulnerability of Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China, and that the government should help them.
Meanwhile, Hsieh said yesterday that he was glad that Saturday's demonstration against China's "Anti-Secession" Law ended successfully and peacefully. The world now knows that Taiwanese will not accept China's threats, he added.
The government won't resume dialogue with China at this time because the atmosphere between both sides has been bad, he said. Chou said the government will wait to see if Beijing makes any friendly gestures toward Taiwan to offset its enactment of the "Anti-Secession" Law.
Such gestures could included passing regulations protecting the rights of Taiwanese businesspeople in China, or agreeing to resume cross-strait talks on an equal footing.