A cable released by WikiLeaks suggests that Evergreen Marine Corp distanced itself from former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) because of pressure from China.
Chen’s relationship with the company dates back to his time as a legal consultant for Evergreen on several cases. The company’s founder, Chang Yung-fa (張榮發), supported Chen when he ran for president in 2000 and Chang was later named as one of the Presidential Office’s unpaid presidential advisers.
The cable, dated Jan. 1, 2006, was sent from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and said that Chang’s eventual shift of his support to the pan-blue camp might have been caused by the Chen administration’s failure to establish direct cross-strait shipping links.
“Evergreen’s efforts to distance itself from Chen are largely the result of pressure from the People’s Republic of China [PRC]. Reports of such pressure emerged immediately after Chen’s election in 2000,” the cable said.
“Arnold Wang (王龍雄), president of Evergreen Marine, recently confirmed to AIT that the PRC applied pressure to Evergreen, particularly in 2001 when authorities placed restrictions on the firm that Wang declined to describe in detail,” the cable said. “Wang pointed out that since the firm had established a more neutral political stance its situation in the Mainland had improved, noting that the firm now has 14 liaison offices there.”
On May 23, 2004, Chang resigned as a senior presidential adviser.
“In early 2005, Wang told AIT that 70 percent of Evergreen Marine’s revenue comes from the Mainland China market [PRC and Hong Kong],” the cable added.
“Evergreen’s situation is similar to that of other Taiwan firms that the PRC perceives to be pro-independence,” it said.
On March 26, 2005, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp founder and then-presidential adviser and Hsu Wen-long (許文龍), a known supporter of independence, caused a stir with the release of an unusual statement praising Beijing’s “one China” principle.
Hsu’s letter, published on the front page of a Chinese-language Taiwanese newspaper, came on the same day as a mass rally held in Taipei against China’s enactment of its “Anti-Secession” Law.
Hsu also offered to resign as an adviser to Chen.
A number of pan-green heavyweights, including then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said they understood why Hsu published the letter and noted that he did so at the expense of his own reputation, but for the sake of the more than 100,000 Taiwanese working for him in China.