Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Expat businessmen donate to storm's victims - but quietly


China-based Taiwanese businessmen in Guangdong Province yesterday donated NT$10 million to the victims of Tropical Storm Mindulle, saying that despite being in China on business, their hearts remained at home.

"In fact, whenever disasters have struck Taiwan -- the 921 Earthquake [in 1999], Typhoon Nari [in 2002] and the SARS epidemic -- China-based Taiwanese businesspeople have responded," one businessman told reporters at a donation ceremony yesterday. "Even if we can't express this in China itself, the [donation] shows that while we earn our living in China, our hearts have always been with Taiwan."

"I would therefore ask that everyone stop criticizing Tai-wanese businesspeople based in China," he added.

There have been consistent reports of pro-Democratic Progressive Party businesspeople coming under pressure from Chinese authorities in recent times. This apparently resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of China-based businesspeople who returned for a government-hosted Dragon Boat Festival celebration and conference last month.

When word of the donation ceremony came out, local media reported that the businesspeople wanted to keep it low-key to avoid trouble in China.

More than 10 representatives from Taiwanese business associations in China returned home yesterday for the ceremony. In addition to the cash donations, 2,500 blankets and 5,000 pairs of shoes were handed over. The Straits Exchange Foundation will distribute the donations.

"We hope that the victims will know that China-based Taiwanese businesspeople are concerned about them," said Tony Cheng (鄭榮文), chairman of the Taiwan Merchants Association based in Shenzhen.

"After hearing about [the disaster], it took us three days to collect the money and goods," said Chang Han-wen (張漢文), from the Taiwan Businessmen Association of Dongguan.

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