Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo (黃興國) is in Taiwan this week on a visit he says is about “making friends, meeting relatives, paying tribute to Matsu and forging cooperative ties with Taiwan.” As that is case, I wonder if he would be willing to talk to Taiwanese businesspeople who have been cheated and robbed while investing in Tianjin.
In 1992, 30-year old Taiwanese businessman Shen Po-sheng (沈柏勝) went to Tianjin to invest in a decorative plywood factory co-owned by the Tianjin City Government. After the machinery and equipment had been installed, personnel trained and technology transferred, Shen was ejected from the business. To secure the return of the 1 million yuan (US$157,000) he lent the company, Shen initiated legal proceedings and won. Unfortunately, he was never informed of his victory and the money was instead split between two judges and the Chinese Communist Party.
However, 18 years of petitioning, filing official complaints, trying to use connections and going to court bankrupted Shen, and his father died as a result, as Shen was unable to pay for the medical care his father needed. On May 1, 2009, with all his hopes gone, Shen tried to commit suicide in front of Tiananmen in Beijing.
That incident finally attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities, but it still took another two years before Shen received some of his money back.
What I cannot understand is why the Chinese government has still not punished those who stole from Shen, the judges who divided the booty up among themselves or the civil servants who conspired with them.
In 1987, Taiwanese businessman Kuo Meng-tie (郭夢垤) was employed by Jixian County in Tianjin to attract Taiwanese businesspeople to the area. Kuo had a house built in Tulou village in Tianjin’s Chengguan Township. However, the building ended up being registered under the name of village party secretary Yan Guangcheng (閻廣成). Although Kuo challenged the legality of the registration, he died before any changes were made to the ownership of the property. His son is now fighting the case, but the authorities have ignored his complaints.
In 1993, Taiwanese businessman Huang Ching-ken (黃清根) invested 23 million yuan as sole investor in a food company in Tianjin. In the process of purchasing raw materials and “entertaining” business associates, he incurred debts of 300,000 yuan. Tianjin City judge Lu Shaohe (盧紹和) then ordered that all the company’s assets should be confiscated to repay the debt.
Before the verdict was enforced, Huang came up with the 300,000 yuan, but Lu rejected his attempt to pay the debt.
Why does the Tianjin City Government allow the city’s judges to harm Taiwanese businesspeople in this way?
There was also the case of 90-year-old agricultural expert Yang Fu-cheng (楊馥成), who was fleeced while working with the Tianjin Hospital of Armed Police Corps.
Ten years ago, Taiwanese businessman Lee Tung (李董) and a Japanese invested NT$200 million (US$6.7 million) in an LCD TV assembly factory together with the Tianjin City Government. Two years later, Lee was thrown in prison for eight years and, needless to say, all the money he had invested vanished.
These cases are just the tip of the iceberg and I cannot see why the Tianjin City Government allows its officials to keep exploiting Taiwanese businesspeople like this.
During his visit to Taiwan, Huang should be asked to explain these cases, which have clearly strained the relationship between Tianjin and Taiwan.
William Kao is president of the Victims of Investment in China Association.
Translated by Drew Cameron
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