Taiwan calls China 'overbearing' after Far Eastern Group fines

11/30/2021 05:07 PM
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Premier Su Tseng-chang. CNA file photo
Premier Su Tseng-chang. CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Tuesday criticized China for trying to exert political pressure on Taiwanese companies after it fined two members of the Far Eastern Group last week for multiple violations at their factories in China.

On the same day, however, Far Eastern Group Chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) cautioned against what he sees as the prevailing tendency in Taiwan to take a critical stance on anything related to China.

Asked about the fines before attending a sports technology meeting, Su said China's leadership has put pressure on Taiwan and tried to use its economic strength as a tool for wielding political power.

He accused Beijing of being "overbearing" and having a poor grasp of democracy and diversity.

Far Eastern Group companies Far East New Century and Asia Cement were fined a combined 88.62 million Chinese yuan (US$13.89 million) on Nov. 22 for violations at their textile fiber and cement factories in five Chinese provinces.

According to China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), the violations involved environmental, occupational health, land usage, plant safety, fire safety, and tax issues.

TAO spokesperson Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) hinted when confirming the violations on Nov. 22 that politics may also have been involved in Beijing's decision to impose the penalties.

China "will absolutely not allow people who support Taiwan independence or destroy cross-Taiwan Strait relations, who dare bite the hand that feeds them, to make money in the mainland," Zhu said.

In a statement on the TAO's website four days later, however, Zhu said the fines on the two companies were based on Chinese law and regulations, and she blamed Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government for deliberately politicizing the issue.

The two companies said in separate statements last week that they would pay their respective fines and other penalties as required, but Hsu offered the first response at the group level Tuesday.

Far Eastern Group Chairman Douglas Hsu (second left) attends the conglomerate
Far Eastern Group Chairman Douglas Hsu (second left) attends the conglomerate's annual lighting up of a Christmas tree outside one of its shopping malls and office building in Taipei Monday. CNA photo Nov. 29, 2021

In a letter to the editor in the United Daily News, Hsu said he had long opposed Taiwan independence and that he hoped the cross-strait status quo would be maintained, arguing that such a position was in line with mainstream public opinion in Taiwan.

Polls back up Hsu's view. According to a poll conducted by the Mainland Affairs Council in November, 84.9 percent of 1,072 individuals surveyed support the maintaining the status quo between Taiwan and China.

Hsu also expressed concern over what he described as the growing trend in Taiwan toward opposing or criticizing anything related to China.

Taiwanese enterprises that have business operations and investment in China are burdened with a sense of guilt in Taiwan's current political climate, he said, and called for political ideology to be set aside for "reasonable understanding and judgments" of the Chinese market.

(By Tsai Peng-ming, Lai Yu-chen and Teng Pei-ju)

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