Wed, Sep 05, 2007 - Page 3 News List

DPP, KMT bicker over Shin Kong incident

LACK OF PROTECTION The two camps traded barbs on failing to help Taiwanese businesspeople in China after a local retail executive was detained in China last week

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A recent commercial dispute involving the Chinese operations of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store led to bickering yesterday between Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers over who was to blame for the lack of protection for Taiwanese businesspeople in China.

The fact that Chinese authorities last week prevented Steven Wu (吳昕達), general manager of Shin Kong's joint-venture department store in Beijing from returning to Taiwan for a conference and removed all Taiwanese managers from their positions as they conducted a kickback probe that drew attention to the risks involved in investing in China.

Wu was allowed to leave China on Saturday, while other Taiwanese staff returned a couple of days later.

A group of DPP lawmakers held a press conference yesterday saying the KMT should take responsibility for the incident because of the agreements it had signed with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

"The KMT has signed many agreements with China, but they turned out to be useless when it comes to protecting Taiwanese businesspeople in China," DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.

The KMT had overstepped its authority in signing the agreements, as these kinds of issues were supposed to be handled by the government, Hsu said.

"As many issues involve the exercise of government authority, the KMT-CCP agreements, without the participation of government, failed to produce useful results. They only weakened the government's position in dealing with China," he said.

The KMT and the CCP signed a "ten-point agreement" concerning the protection of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople in November 2005 after former KMT chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in April that year -- the first meeting between the two parties' leaders in 60 years.

The issue was also addressed in the second Lien-Hu meeting the following year.

Responding to the criticism, KMT caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) said the channels that the government previously used to talk with China had long been severed.

Kuo said that the KMT had to serve as a bridge for negotiations with China because dealings between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Chinese Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) had lapsed a long time ago.

The SEF and the ARATS are the two quasi-official organizations in charge of cross-strait relations.

Kuo also said that DPP lawmakers should not target Lien, who had only done his best to serve as a communications conduit between Taiwan and China given his great concern for the rights and interests of Taiwanese businesspeople in China.

The DPP should thank Lien for his efforts, she said.

In Kaohsiung yesterday, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called for investment guarantee accords between Taiwan and China to protect the interests of Taiwanese businesspeople in China.

Taiwan and China should establish a platform on which the two sides could approach each other and negotiate, Ma said, adding that signing investment guarantee pacts would be conducive to the normalization of bilateral relations.

Commenting on the Shin Kong management dispute in Beijing, Ma said it was an isolated case, but it was an indication of the DPP administration's inability to help resolve trade disputes involving Taiwanese businesses.

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