A Chinese government organization has been described as influencing Taiwan’s politics by mobilizing Taiwanese businesspeople based in China to return to Taiwan on a heavily discounted flight ticket to vote in tomorrow’s elections, a special report released by Reuters yesterday said, detailing how China penetrates Taiwan on various fronts.
Reuters said it has reviewed a wide array of documents from the United Front Work Department, an organ of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, which says its mission is “to spread China’s influence by ultimately gaining control over a range of groups not affiliated with the party and that are often outside the mainland.”
Reuters said that the documents reveal the extent to which the agency is engaged in activities that aim to bring Taiwan closer to China and possibly see the two sides’ ultimate unification.
The Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland (ATIEM), is identified as one of the groups that the United Front, or Beijing, wishes to hold sway over.
Listing more than 130 Taiwanese business associations across China as members and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office minister as its honorary chairman, ATIEM is the group that lobbied for increased ties with China and once asked President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to make it legal for Taiwanese to hold membership in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
The Beijing-based association has put effort into mobilizing “election airlifts.”
According to the report, a KMT internal survey showed that as many as 80 percent of people who live in China and returned to Taiwan to vote in the 2012 presidential election voted for Ma.
This year — with Chinese authority’s “unspoken consent” — ATIEM has negotiated with airline companies, including China Airlines and China’s state-owned Air China to provide discounted flights for Taiwanese businesspeople to return home to vote.
The Taiwanese business community in China is “China’s best public relations tool,” the president of the Shenzhen-based Taiwan Merchants Association said, according to the report.
Editor’s note: The entire Reuters special report will be published on page 9 of tomorrow’s Taipei Times.
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