Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 3 News List

MAC urges China not to confuse business and politics

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

From left to right, DPP Legislator Chang Ching-fang and legislative caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang -- along with Kao Wei-pang, the founder of an association aimed at helping Taiwan's businesspeople whose rights have been damaged in China -- yesterday protest against China's oppression of pro-independence Taiwanese businesspeople.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) urged China yesterday not to mix politics with business in response to an editorial in the Communist Party's mouthpiece People's Daily that Beijing does not welcome pro-Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) businesspeople.

The editorial accused Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍), the founder of the Chi Mei Corporation, for making money in China to fund the DPP and publicly calling for Taiwan's independence.

MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said that Beijing should keep its promises, noting that on May 24 it encouraged cross-strait trade and exchanges.

"Beijing's deeds should be consistent with its words," Wu said.

China has a political motive in ordering its official media outlet to carry a front-page editorial attacking Hsu, who is also a senior advisor to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said.

The council is watching to see whether the attack on Hsu is an isolated case, Chiu said.

"Beijing has said it would not politicize trade issues. It should abide by its word and protect Taiwanese businesspeople's investments in China, rather than causing unnecessary trouble for them," Chiu said.

Hsu said yesterday he was not surprised Beijing has again singled him out for character assassination. After the 2000 presidential election, Hsu's petrochemical plant in Jiangsu Province encountered problems with unannounced "audits" and "environmental management" inspections from Chinese officials.

"I respect China's right to exercise its freedom of speech. But for the benefit of global economic development, I wish Beijing could separate politics from trade in handling its relationship with Taiwan," the businessman said.

To boost the competitiveness of Taiwanese businesses based in China, Hsu has been lobbying for the implementation of the three cross-strait direct links -- trade, transportation and postal services.

Hsu also defended himself against the newspaper's accusation that he used money he made in China to further his "other aims."

"Decades ago, Taiwan's cheap labor attracted US and Japanese companies to use Taiwan as a production base. Their investment helped create an economic miracle in Taiwan," said Hsu.

"Now Taiwan is using China and Vietnam as production bases. That should create win-win situations for Taiwan, China and Vietnam. Cross-strait trade will only suffer if Taiwan and China keep emphasizing their political differences," he added.

Frank Liao (廖錦祥), chairman of the Chi Mei Group, said in a statement: "The Chi Mei Group cannot comment on Mr. Hsu's personal political beliefs. We have maintained a neutral stance in running our businesses, and have avoided any political considerations."

"Many years ago, Mr. Hsu decided to retire at the age of 70. He resigned from the Chi Mei Corporation on May 10, and plans to retire as chairman of Chi Mei Optoelectronics on June 15," Liao said.

Wang Ya-kang (汪雅康), secretary-general of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, the members of which have investments in China, said it remains to be seen whether the report would affect pro-DPP Taiwanese businesspeople's operations in China.

"We need to observe whether China's policies towards Taiwanese businesspeople will be in line with what the report said ... We wish politics would not be mixed with business," Wang said.

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