Mon, Jun 03, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Beijing targeting firms to sway vote

EXODUS OF CAPITAL:China has invited Taiwanese firms to take part in its Greater Bay Area project in a bid to influence next year’s elections, an academic has said

By Chung Li-hua and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Beijing has launched a propaganda campaign targeting China-based Taiwanese businesses in an attempt to sway the outcome of next year’s presidential election, National Cheng Kung University professor of political science Hung Chin-fu (洪敬富) said yesterday.

China is trying to curb the exodus of Taiwanese businesses amid its trade spat with the US, Hung said, adding that more than 300 Taiwanese companies have signed up for an information session about Beijing’s Greater Bay Area project.

Announced in February, the project aims to integrate the economies of Hong Kong and Macau with nine cities in neighboring Guangdong Province.

China wants Taiwanese companies to participate in the project to gain leverage in the trade dispute and manipulate the outcome of the election, he said.

Beijing has been promoting the project as a demonstration of the merits of its “one country, two systems” formula, and has invited several Taiwanese politicians to visit the cities targeted by the project and discuss its implementation.

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) have visited the area, and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) last month visited Beijing, where he discussed the project, local media have reported.

China has also invited Taiwanese media companies to the area and plans to invite Taiwanese students to participate in co-ops this summer, Hung said.

Beijing has been trying to convince Taiwanese that the nation’s economy can only grow if it is tied to China’s and that this could only happen if they elect a president who supports the “one China, two systems” formula, he said.

China is gearing up for a protracted trade dispute with the US and hopes that the project will alleviate domestic concerns, while also showing Washington that it is “not afraid to fight,” Hung said.

Beijing’s efforts to lure Taiwanese firms into investing in the project amid a mass exodus of foreign investors and capital clearly shows that China is in crisis, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology research fellow Lin Thung-hong (林宗弘) said.

Beijing’s ultimate goal is unification with Taiwan under the “one country, two systems” framework and the trade spat wold not have any effect on that, said international relations researcher Chang Kuo-cheng (張國城), who is also deputy dean of general education at Taipei Medical University.

If the project does not offer any significant new incentives, Taiwanese firms would not be easily convinced to invest in it, he added.

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