A Taiwanese businessman based in China ran a full-page advertisement on the front page of the Chinese-language China Times yesterday petitioning Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) to help him solve a business despute, triggering feverish online debate.
The businessman, who identified himself as Lin Chi-wen (林啟文), accused a Hong Kong-based company of swindling him.
In the ad, Lin said he spent nearly NT$800 million (US$24 million) buying Lucheng Plaza in Xiamen, China, in August 2003, but a company called Chienming Property Co (建明房地產有限公司) re-sold the property to another Xiamen-based firm in April 2005 and took him to court on charges of breach of contract the next month.
Media reports say that a full front-page ad can cost as much as NT$2 million.
Slamming the China Times, one of the many media outlets owned by the Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) — which has been at the center of recent public outcry against the monopolization of the media and is seen as being pro-China — one netizen said the newspaper appears to have become a platform through which individuals can petition the “celestial Chinese empire.”
Xi, who replaced Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as general-secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in November last year, will assume the Chinese presidency in March.
Netizens also described the China Times as a Taiwanese version of China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper, with an other mockingly predicting that the anchors from China Central Television may soon make their debut on Want Want’s local channel CtiTV.