The number of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople returning home to vote in next month’s elections is expected to be lower than for previous elections, a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
A main reason is that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, is not considered a strong candidate, the person said on condition of anonymity.
Another reason is Beijing’s increasingly hardline approach to cross-strait relations, which has further limited Taiwanese’s discussion of political matters and the KMT’s activities in China, they said.
Chinese authorities used to allow Taiwanese to mention the so-called “1992 consensus” at KMT-organized rallies, but now they require that the phrase be mentioned along with “one China” or “peaceful unification,” the person said.
As a result, such rallies have become awkward for KMT officials and “scary” for Taiwanese entrepreneurs in China, they added.
Compared with previous elections, the KMT has apparently sent lower-ranking and less-known officials to China for its election campaigns this year, the person said.
Tighter controls by Chinese authorities have affected the KMT’s fundraising efforts in China, leading to a lower donations from Taiwanese businesspeople there, the person said.
The timing of the elections also made it inconvenient for the businesspeople to return home to vote, as the elections are to take place about two weeks before the Lunar New Year holiday, the person added.
Many might not prefer to travel home to vote and return to China for about two weeks only to return to Taiwan again for the holiday, they said.
The number of available airplane tickets around the time of the elections suggests that many businesspeople would not be returning home to vote, they added.
Asked whether the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) bill aimed at countering Chinese infiltration could affect the businesspeople’s support for the party in the elections, the source said that although some are unhappy about the bill, few have complained about it.
Compared with a draft law that aims to crack down on Chinese proxies operating in Taiwan, which the DPP previously tried to promote, the anti-infiltration bill would have minimal effect on Taiwanese businesspeople in China, the person said.
However, KMT Central Standing Committee member Lin Rong-te (林榮德) yesterday said that many China-based Taiwanese businesspeople are eager to vote in the elections.
Lin, who is also an adviser for the China-based Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprise on the Mainland, said many businesspeople care about Taiwan’s development and are willing to return home to vote, adding that about 200,000 businesspeople are expected to return home for the elections.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Chiang Shuo-ping (江碩平) said although the DPP government has withdrawn its anti-proxy bill, China-based Taiwanese businesspeople in general have negative sentiments toward the government, as some feel that the party’s insistence on the anti-infiltration bill seems to place the blame on China-based Taiwanese for Beijing’s infiltration.
Taiwanese in China have been asking the KMT whether there would be additional flights before and after the holiday, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Cheng Mei-hua (程美華) said, urging the government to add extra cross-strait flights during the period so that China-based Taiwanese can return home to vote as well as for the holiday.
The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
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