With the combined legislative and presidential elections in January and their outcome a key factor in the development of cross-strait issues, China has been moving to influence the outcome, a Taiwan Merchant Association (TMA) member said last week.
The TMA member said China mobilized its contacts within the association in the middle of last month and the beginning of this month, hoping to persuade Taiwanese businesspeople to return to Taiwan and make “political donations” in “support of a party that would help develop the cross-strait economy.”
The invitations were presented as informal get-togethers, but for all intents and purposes they were more like an order to mobilize election support, said a TMA member who requested not to be identified.
“It told us they ‘hoped’ we could ‘take action’ and participate in elections that will have a direct impact on cross-strait developments,” the member said. “It said such support on our part would not only be helping the Chinese authorities, but Taiwanese merchants as well.”
Fully aware of the Chinese government’s stance with the request, Taiwanese businesspeople have delegated the job of keeping close watch on the newest developments in the election campaign to measure how much “political donations” would be required.
However, some companies have received not-so-subtle hints of how much they should donate and the timeframe of donation “would be best around the end of October to the beginning of November,” the TMA member said.
The businessman said although he had already made preparations for political donations, being given a limit and “requested to [make a donation]” made him very uncomfortable, adding that the sum asked of him would be the income of several days work, meaning he would be working for several days without getting anything.
The member said all members of the TMA or similar associations always had a limit for the amount of political donations, adding that the person chairing the TMA in the local province would be asked to donate more.
The member also said that the association and other similar organizations were one step down from the Members of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland (ATIEM), whose members were expected to make more “donations” than non-ATIEM investors.
A Taiwanese investor who requested anonymity said in the past he would return to Taiwan and make political donations, adding that “I’m a member of the party; donating to the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] is the right thing to do.”
However, the investor declined to say whether he had received the “request” from Chinese authorities.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer