Sun, Feb 01, 2004 - Page 3 News List

China-based businessmen favor blue camp

ELECTION Many executives have lost patience with the DPP because they feel it has failed to launch policies that they urgently needed, business leaders said

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TAINAN

The majority of Taiwanese busi-nesspeople based in China seem to have decided to cast their ballots in favor of the pan-blue camp in the March presidential election, despite the government's latest initiatives to change their minds.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun visited a Lunar New Year gathering of around 130 heads of business associations for China-based Tai-wanese in Tainan yesterday. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had announced four government initiatives designed to benefit businesspeople at the same gathering on Friday night.

Senior officials from various government agencies also participated in the businessmen's three-day gathering, hosted by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

In Chen's neck-and-neck campaign race against his blue-camp rivals, if Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), were to get a bigger chunk of the business vote, it would be a crucial step in winning the election.

The number of China-based businessmen planning to return to Taiwan to vote in the election is expected to be limited by the number of available air tickets. Some of the business leaders said that only a few of them could afford to take leave to cast their ballots.

In the 2000 presidential election, only about 2,000 businessmen returned to Taiwan to cast their votes, officials said.

Many of the businessmen's families and relatives live in Taiwan, and the businessmen's opinions could influence the way their families vote.

The businessmen, their families and relatives could easily represent more than one million votes in this year's election, according to the SEF's estimation.

Hector Yeh (葉惠德), president of the Association of Shanghai-Taiwan Businessmen Invested Enterprises, said in the 2000 presidential election the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) did not pay much attention to China-based Taiwanese businessmen.

"At that time, so few of us came home to vote that the DPP did not care much about us. But we must go home to vote this time," Yeh said.

Shanghai is the Chinese city with the most enterprises run by Taiwanese businesspeople.

Yeh said that many Taiwanese businessmen in Shanghai have been suffering over the past four years because the government, "obsessed with a certain ideology," has failed to launch policies that they urgently needed.

The DPP government has not shown much support for China-based Taiwanese businesspeople because of the hostility of some factions within the party, Yeh said.

"These factions have always been against us. We feel it would be easier for the pan-blue camp to carry out policies that can really benefit us. That's why most of us support the blue camp," Yeh said.

The number of businessmen going home for this year's election will certainly be more that of four years ago, because they "don't want to suffer for another four years," Yeh said.

"We want peace and stability. `More economy, less politics' is our suggestion to the government for handling cross-strait relations," Yeh said.

Tony Cheng (鄭榮文), chairman of the Taiwan Merchants Association in Shenzhen, said many businessmen could no longer place their trust in the DPP government, although it has promised to launch four initiatives to benefit them.

"The government should have carried out the initiatives four years ago," Cheng said.

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