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Taiwan-based Want Want threatens defamation suit against Apple Daily

2019/04/23 23:40:33

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) Taiwan-based Want Want Holdings Ltd. published a statement in its newspaper Tuesday threatening to file a defamation suit against Chinese-language Apple Daily for a report that it considered as a smear of its establishment.

In order to preserve the interests and rights of its shareholders, the company will file legal action against the media outlet for defamation, the statement read.

Want Want is a food company founded in 1962 in Taiwan by tycoon Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明). It expanded its business operations into China in the 1990s, setting up production plants across the country.

The legal action threat came after Apple Daily reported that Want Want's subsidiary in China, Want Want China Holdings Ltd., received up to 477 million Chinese yuan (US$71 million) in subsidies from the Chinese government between 2017 and 2018.

Citing Want Want's consolidated financial statements for 2017-2018, the report said the company only noted the income as "government grants" but did not detail the reasons for the subsidies or what they were used for.

According to Apple Daily, Want Want's subsidies for 2017-2018 were larger than two other major food manufacturers, also from Taiwan, that also operate in China.

According to the report, the food company also operates several media outlets in Taiwan, including the China Times newspaper, China Television (CTV) and CTi TV.

In response, Want Want's statement said that the subsidies from the Chinese government are aimed at attracting investment and are applicable to both domestic and foreign businesses that meet the necessary requirements.

Want Want said the Chinese cash has nothing to do with its media business in Taiwan, and that the Hong Kong-listed Want Want China Holdings Ltd. and Want Want China Times media group have different shareholders and that the company has always been open and transparent about its consolidated financial statements.

The report of the subsidies from the Chinese government come at a sensitive time, especially at a time when Beijing has been highly criticized by Taiwan for trying to influence the Taiwanese media for political gain.

Asked to comment on the matter, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) told CNA that the MAC is not against the law for China-based Taiwanese businesses to receive subsidies from the Chinese government, but when the companies are involved in media, then the issue could cause concern for the government.

Chiu added that it would be best for Want Want to explain to the public why it is receiving money from the Chinese government.

The government is not against businesses operating in China receiving subsidies there, but would be concerned if such developments involve the media in Taiwan, Chiu explained.

(By Miao Zong-han and Ko Lin)
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