Mon, Apr 18, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chinese rabble loots Taiwanese factory in protest

LOCAL THREAT An unruly mob caused such damage to a Taiwanese-financed factory in Guangdong's Chaozhou City that it had to close down temporarily

STAFF WRITER

A report that a Taiwanese-financed factory based in China was looted by a local mob revealed the importance of China signing an agreement with Taiwan to protect China-based Taiwanese businesses, a Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said yesterday.

"Our chairman, Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), has urged Beijing to discuss with Taiwan how to protect businesses, but China did not respond to the request," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A report yesterday suggested that a mob had looted a China-based factory invested in by Taiwanese manufacturer B. B. Battery Co (美美電池) on April 15 in Guangdong's Chaozhou City.

According to the report, a group of protesters gathered at the factory to protest what they claimed was damage to local fishermen's livelihood caused by waste water discharged by the Taiwanese battery maker into surrounding waters.

Due to the local government's reluctance to take protective action, the company has suffered a loss of dozens of million of yuan, and has been forced to close down its operations temporarily, the report said.

An unnamed member of Guangdong's Taiwan Merchant Association (TMA) was quoted as saying that the B. B. Battery Co had been besieged by several thous-ands of unruly local villagers claiming that the company has caused water pollution jeopardizing local aquatic industries.

The anonymous TMA member quoted the B. B. Battery Co's CEO, identified only by his surname Su, as saying that the company's waste water met the local authorities' requirements, and the company should not be falsely accused of being the source of sea-water pollution. Su demanded that the mob or the local government provide evidence to back up their claims.

Su promised to stop the company's operation at the time when the incident occurred and accepted an immediate investigation by the government. But that did not pacify the local villagers. Since these villagers were not able to show any concrete evidence, Taiwanese businesspeople cannot help but suspect that the whole incident was manipulated by other organizations.

There were reportedly very few police deployed at the scene of the incident, and they were unable to restrain the angry mob. Su, at the scene, sensed that the riot might get worse, and he quickly sought help from the deputy secretary and mayor of the Chaozhou City government to send for a stronger force of armed police to control the situation and end the villagers' threatening behavior.

Despite Su's request for help, the government offered no response, which caused the already severe situation to become even more critical. Thousands of people lead by youngsters entered the company, looting goods to an estimated value of at least 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million), which has forced the B. B. Battery Co to close down temporarily.

It is reported that the Taiwan Merchant Association in Guangzhou has made an emergency report to Guangdong's Taiwan Affairs Office Chief Gan Zhaosheng (甘兆勝) and Beijing-based Sound of Taiwan magazine (台聲雜誌) to make the incident known to government officials all over China. Su is expected to fly to Beijing soon to deal with the issue.

B. B. Battery Co was founded seven to eight years ago in China by a businessman of a renowned food corporation in Southern Taiwan. This China-based battery corporation occupies hundreds of hectares and has seven thousand to eight thousand employees.

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