Sat, Oct 28, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Businessman apologizes for ‘uneducated’ remark

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Chamber of Commerce director-general Wang Ying-chieh speaks at a Taiwan Competitiveness Forum event in Taipei on Thursday.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Taipei Chamber of Commerce director-general Wang Ying-chieh (王應傑) yesterday apologized for calling Taiwanese who have never been to China jianmin (賤民, “uneducated masses”), saying that he bore no ill intent and was only concerned about deteriorating cross-strait ties.

Wang, who is also chairman of real-estate broker Eastern Realty (東森房屋) and vice chairman of Kuo Kuang Motor Transportion Co Ltd (國光客運), made the controversial remarks at a Taiwan Competitiveness Forum event on Thursday, sparking criticism from the public, with some threatening to boycott his businesses.

The Taiwan Competitiveness Forum is a think tank established in 2007 by a group of academics concerned about the cross-strait stalemate and Taiwan’s international predicament.

“Why are Taiwanese gullible? Because only 7.5 million of them have been to China, while the remaining 15 million have not,” Wang reportedly said at the event.

Lamenting what he called the Taiwanese public’s ignorance of China’s remarkable progress over the past three decades, Wang said Taipei pales in comparison with many of China’s first-tier or even second-tier cities in terms of development.

“Many ignorant Taiwanese, or even those I call jianmin, do not even know which century they are living in,” Wang said, adding that the situation underscores the importance of engaging the younger generation when handling cross-strait ties.

He told reporters after the event that his use of the term jianmin was not directed at the general public, but rather at politicians who have demonized Beijing and fooled the electorate in a fashion similar to that of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime’s irrational and undemocratic rule.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-feng (林淑芬) questioned whether Wang’s remarks were an attempt to expand his business in China, given that Eastern Realty opened its first directly owned branch in Jiangsu, China, in May.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said in a legislative plenary session that such rhetoric, even revised, cannot be accepted by the public.

“After some soul-searching last night, I realized that my heartfelt remarks at the event, made due to my concerns about uncertainty in cross-strait exchanges, were too straightforward and a poor choice of words,” Wang said on Facebook yesterday.

Wang said that as an entrepreneur, he cares deeply about the nation and its democracy, adding that he hopes the government will prioritize the livelihood of 23 million Taiwanese and refrain from letting politics impede cross-strait economic exchanges.

“I bear no ill intent and hope the public can understand that the criticism came from a good place,” he said.

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