After having property worth US$1 million stolen from his factory in Beijing in 1999, William Kao (高為邦) established an association for victims of investment fraud in China and has since dedicated himself to demanding justice for Taiwanese businesspeople based in China, known as taishang.
In order to get a picture of the real investment environment in China, Kao interviewed more than 100 taishang, recording their stories and setting out to make the non-economic risks known to those thinking of exploring the huge Chinese market.
"It is encouraging to hear the Chinese authorities say that they will offer economic favors to Taiwanese-funded firms, but people have to keep in mind that it is not always economic factors that cause so many taishang to fail in China," Kao said, responding to a series of measures Beijing recently proposed aimed at supporting taishang.
The measures include up to 30 billion yuan (US$3.9 billion) in loans to be made available by a state bank, a newly established agency for solving business disputes and a promise to meet the requests of taishang on issues such as health, education, and living services.
"These are just China's tricks. Based on my personal experiences and those of many others, pillaging taishang's property is China's real state policy," he said.
Before becoming a full-time organizer of the victims association, Kao was a successful businessman, who started a factory manufacturing glass-fiber-reinforced plastic products in the Yanjiao (
Initially everything went well, with the production line in operation and the first container-load being sent to the US within three months of the factory opening. Kao never expected that all his property would soon be stolen by his Chinese counterpart, Yue Hongjun (
"At that time, three employees were on duty in the factory, and they were helpless to prevent the 40 people from moving all the machinery equipment, materials, molds, and finished products away. They plundered everything and then began manufacturing the same products in Yue's factory," Kao said.
Kao said that his legal case has been suspended in the court, which is a situation that many Taiwanese businesspeople endure.
"As far as I know, and from interviewing more than 100 Taiwan-ese victims, very few people win their lawsuits. And those who have won the lawsuits didn't get compensation. One victim told me that the Chinese judge and governmental officials asked him to share half of the compensation with him after he won the case," Kao said.
According to government statistics, the number of cases of taishang filing complaints to Taiwan's Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF) has exceeded 1,200, and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, the SEF's counterpart in China, has had up to 5,000 complaints filed.
"I believe that these statistics are still not a true reflection, since many taishang are warned by the Chinese Public Security Bureau not to disclose their experiences, as it is then more likely that they will get their property back," Kao said.
These cases have proved that the Law of the People's Republic of China on Protection of Investment by Compatriots From Taiwan (台灣同胞投資保護法), enacted in 1994, and its rules for implementation issued in 1999 are actually useless, he said.