Taipei, April 23 (CNA) Reports by a local newspaper on a visit to Taiwan by a Chinese official late last month may have been embedded advertising, Lai Shin-yuan, the head of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said Monday.
"The evidence is relatively clear," Lai said, though "some pieces of evidence are more solid than others," while reporting at the Legislature on the government's management of advertising by Chinese agencies or groups in Taiwan.
Referring to a series of reports by the China Times on Fujian Province Governor Su Shulin's visit to Taiwan in late March, Lai said her agency was checking to see which were actual news reports and which were advertorials -- advertisements that are packaged as news.
In response to questions by Legislator Tuan Yi-kang of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Lai said the MAC has also asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs to verify the matter.
According to Tuan, the China Times reported heavily on Su's visit for five consecutive days, which he said had caught many communications scholars off guard.
"The China Times ran at least two or three stories per day on Su's visit, but it actually had nothing to do with the public interest," Tuan said.
Lai said that a recent meeting held by the MAC and other related agencies concluded that the "evidence was relatively clear" in the case.
She also said that the MAC will invite scholars, experts and related bodies for a meeting Tuesday to discuss media involved in running ads or embedded advertising for China.
During his five-day stay in Taiwan, Su touted a development project off the coast of Fujian Province that many in Taiwan have criticized as being overly political in nature.
China has pitched the Pingtan project, a 371-square-kilometer island, as a zone for "joint planning, development, operation, management and benefits" between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in a bid to lure Taiwanese investors.
The Ministry of the Interior is also checking to see if Su was illegally soliciting Taiwanese investment in the project.
Under the law, Chinese nationals who visit Taiwan for the purpose of trade and economic exchanges are not allowed to solicit investment.
Vice Interior Minister Lin Tzu-ling agreed at the legislative hearing Monday that his ministry will hand over data on any resulting disciplinary measures to the National Communications Commission, which is screening an application by a subsidiary of the Want Want China Times Group to buy a multiple system cable operator.
The proposed acquisition has sparked controversy because of fears that it would give the Want Want Group -- of which the China Times is a subsidiary -- too much media influence.
(By Chen Hung-ching and Lilian Wu)