The government should investigate allegations of Chinese dominance of Taiwan’s largest online travel agency Web site, ezTravel, representatives of two civic groups said at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.
Under the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) and other laws, it is illegal for Chinese companies or investors to manage or own travel agencies, Taiwan Citizen Front Secretary-General Chiang Min-yen (江旻諺) said.
Chiang also questioned how ezTravel — given its Chinese investment — has continued to win management of the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) round-island train travel programs.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said that ezTravel shares are evenly split between two Cayman Island-registered companies, CTrip.com and Cyberccn.com.
CTrip is owned by Trip.com, whose nine board members are all Chinese, including two — Shen Nanpeng (沈南鵬) and Lee Yenhong (李彥宏) — who are members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Lai said.
Of the five seats on ezTravel’s board, two seats belong to Ctrip — including one held by Trip.com chief executive Sun Jie (孫潔) — two are held by Cyberccn.com and the other is held by former Trip.com vice president Xing Xiong (邢雄), Lai said, citing Ministry of Economic Affairs data.
“It is evident that Trip.com completely owns ezTravel’s board,” Lai said.
The ministry should order Trip.com to withdraw its investment and strip Sun and Xiong of their board seats, which have not been approved by the government, Lai said.
Chiang called on the government to penalize travel agencies that have not declared that they have received Chinese investment.
Pressed by reporters, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said that ezTravel had obtained its license as a foreign-invested company.
The ministry would look into its licensing should any concerns or new evidence arise, she said.
Investment Commission Executive Secretary Chang Ming-pin (張銘斌) said that previous investigations found that while ezTravel has Chinese investors, their share of its stock had not exceeded the 30 percent permitted by law.
However, the commission would ask the firm to provide additional information, Chang said.
Responding to the allegations, ezTravel said it is a legitimate local company that has been in business for more than 20 years, and it is completely independent and autonomous.
As for the question of how it has been able win management of the TRA’s travel program year after year, ezTravel said that the Economic Democracy Union had failed to examine the proposals and program offers made by other bidders.
It is sad that its efforts to promote railway tourism have been undermined by allegations, ezTravel said.
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