Liberty Times: The cross-strait service trade agreement and the free economic pilot zones have been forwarded to the legislature for review. How would you examine issues of the current business and trade development across the Strait ?
Wu Jieh-min (吳介民): On the current situation, we must go in more depth to analyze the flow of financial capital and the modes of business operation across the Taiwan Strait.
Quite a few big business conglomerates have their operational bases in both Taiwan and China, so are these Taiwanese capital-funded companies or Chinese capital-funded companies?
Let’s take a look at Want Want Group, Ting Hsin Group and ASE Group, for example. To categorize them in the traditional way as either Taiwanese companies or Chinese companies would not be precise enough, because they are both. This double identity would be better described as “companies of cross-strait capital.” This type of capital was originally born in Taiwan, but the operations reached across the Strait and their revenues in China have far exceeded those in Taiwan. For the Chinese market, the companies promote their own “Chinese brands,” but when they encounter problems, they appeal to their “Taiwanese company” status and emphasize their “Taiwanese bloodline.”
For example, when HTC had difficulties making inroads into the Chinese market, HTC chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅) came back here to seek support from Taiwanese consumers. When ASE was embroiled in a pollution scandal, ASE chairman Jason Chang (張虔生) stressed the company’s goal to “put down roots in Taiwan.” As they appealed to their “Taiwanese company” status, it implied an intimate relationship for people “to put their faith in,” trying to identify identify as “one of us.”
LT: With their mode of operation and financial capital, what kind of impact have these companies made in Taiwan?
Wu: These cross-strait companies have great influence in Taiwan’s political and business circles, as well as influence on society. They trade and operate on both sides of the Strait and have already become a powerful force to lead political and business development trends in Taiwan.
For the food industry, Want Want Group makes large profits in China and in the past also received massive subsidies from the Chinese government.
In 2008, it returned to Taiwan and purchased the three media organizations from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT): China Television Co, Broadcasting Corp of China and Central Pictures Corp. By owning these media outlets, the group was able to influence public opinion. It advocates Chinese nationalism for all Chinese people. Thereafter, these media’s reporting and viewpoints almost toe the same line as China’s People’s Daily newspaper and Xinhua news agency. This later led to the “Anti-Media Monster” movement in Taiwan.
Ting Hsin Group got its business started in China, then it returned to Taiwan and bought up Wei Chuan Corp. When the deal ran into cash-flow trouble, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office helped out to arrange for its financial assistance. In recent years, Ting Hsin Group purchased stakes to become the majority shareholder of Taipei 101.
In the manufacturing sector, we need to take a closer look at ASE Group’s transgression in polluting Greater Kaohsiung’s Houjin River (後勁溪). ASE Group has a total of 69 subsidiary companies, with the parent company established in what was then Kaohsiung City in 1984.