The Want Want China Times Group went on the offensive on Tuesday after the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) carried a story about Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators criticizing a visit by a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official to CtiTV and the “supplicant” manner in which the group’s chairman welcomed the official.
CtiTV, part of the China Times Group acquired by food conglomerate Want Want in November 2008, dedicated an entire hour-long program on Tuesday night, with special guests including Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元), attacking the Liberty Times and its founder, and alleging that the Liberty Times’ poll center had faked a poll following Sunday’s debate between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
The Chinese-language China Times continued the offensive with six articles targeting the Liberty Times yesterday, including a front-page story and an editorial.
On its front page on Monday, the China Times quoted Want Want chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) as saying during the visit on Sunday: “On behalf of all colleagues at Want Want Group, I welcome CCP Hubei Provincial Committee Secretary Luo Qingquan (羅清泉).”
Luo’s tour included a visit to the CtiTV newsroom.
“After its initial investments in Hubei Province, Want Want Group is confident that investments in Hubei will expand in the future,” Tsai Eng-meng said. “We welcome Luo’s visit here to give us his guidance [蒞臨指導, lilin zhidao] and thank you for your support,” he said.
Luo is leading a 1,000-strong delegation from Hubei to enhance exchanges between his province and Taiwan. The delegation is expected to make more than US$500 million in purchases during the visit, organizers say.
DPP Legislator William Lai (賴清德) said Tsai Eng-meng seemed oblivious to the constitutional status of independent media, adding that the tendency in China to “seek the wisdom” of Chinese officials had no place in Taiwanese media or in a democratic society.
The executive deputy editor at the China Times played down the accusation on Monday night, saying the “seeking the wisdom” reference was polite language. He added that only “bored people” would make a fuss over this.
DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃), however, said the language made it very clear that the Chinese were the main objects of dependence, adding that using such vocabulary to welcome Chinese officials was not accidental.
The China Times Group also owns the Commercial Times, the China Times Weekly magazine, Want Daily and China Television Co, which was formerly controlled by the KMT. All have a pro-China editorial line.
The Hong-Kong-listed Want Want, whose main market is China but also sells in Taiwan and Hong Kong, has a 51 percent controlling stake in China Times Group.
In February last year, Want Want signed a preliminary deal to acquire a 47.58 percent stake in Asia Television (ATV) in Hong Kong, which in recent years has been accused of adopting a pro-Beijing line. Tsai Eng-meng is currently locked in a court battle over control of the broadcaster.
Want Want also operates hotels in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Nanjing, Huai’an and Xining.
The Liberty Times said yesterday it planned to take legal action against the Want Want China Times Group over “groundless accusations.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
SURPRISE GUEST: Media reports identified the visitor as Admiral Michael Studeman, director of the J2, which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command A two-star US Navy admiral overseeing US military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. The sources, who include a Taiwanese official familiar with the situation, said the official was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman. They were speaking on condition of anonymity. After initially saying on Sunday night that it had no comment about the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the visit of an “unidentified US official,” but declined to give more details because the trip “has not been made public.” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday
AUTUMN STRUGGLE: The KMT and TPP set up stages on the rally’s sidelines, while Want Want boss Tsai Eng-meng said the DPP was curtailing freedom of speech Tens of thousands of people in Taipei yesterday took part in the “Autumn Struggle” (秋鬥) — an annual protest march by labor groups — but with this year’s focus on rejecting the government’s plan to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine residue. “Against poisonous pork, against double standards, against a party-state,” the protesters, mostly wearing black, chanted in front of the rally’s main stage on Ketagalan Boulevard at about noon, before a parade set off at 2pm. Autumn Struggle spokesperson Lee Chien-cheng (李建誠) said this year’s march was divided into three teams, with the first team urging food safety and labor
DEFENSE: The construction of indigenous submarines will be a testament to the nation’s commitment to safeguard its sovereignty, President Tsai Ing-wen said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday presided over a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the nation’s first indigenous submarine at state-run shipbuilder CSBC Corp’s (台灣國際造船) shipyard in Kaohsiung. “This submarine is an important part of allowing our navy to develop asymmetric warfare and to intimidate and block enemy ships from surrounding Taiwan’s main island,” Tsai said. “With the construction of the submarine to its future commission, we will certainly let the world know our persistence in safeguarding our sovereignty.” Tsai has made boosting the nation’s indigenous defense capacity a central pillar of her defense policy. She recently relaunched the
TIMELINE QUESTIONS: Chen Shih-chung said: ‘If anyone could assure us that we could get the shots in the first quarter of next year, we could set off firecrackers’ Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported five new imported infections among travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that Taiwan on Monday signed a procurement contract with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer and paid a deposit to secure 10 million doses. It was the first contract finalized with a manufacturer and negotiations are under way with three other vaccine makers, Chen said. With the more than 4.6 million doses that can be obtained through the COVAX platform —