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Feb 13, 2009

Taiwanese businessmen as Chinese officials

The Liberty Times carried a report this morning claiming a number of Taiwanese businessmen have been active in local Chinese Political Consultative Conferences (政治協商會), a sort of advisory council to the Communist Party in different areas.

The name list included Cheng Fon-yuan (程豐原), who heads up the Guangzhou Taiwanese businessman's association and ten others. Being on these councils constitutes holding a Chinese government position and is clearly forbidden by Taiwanese law, specifically article 33 of the Act Government Relations between the Taiwan and Mainland areas, (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例第33條) which states "People, legal officers, organizations and other units from the Taiwan region may not hold positions in the mainland's party branches, military affairs, administration or organizations which are political in nature." (台灣地區人民、法人、團體或其他機構,不得擔任大陸地區黨務、軍事、行政或具政治性機關(構) )

However, to date not a single Taiwanese businessman has been fined for being on the councils, and the Liberty Times reported that it's because this is a "politically sensitive" topic and the Mainland Affairs Council would rather ignore the problem. (This is not the first time this issue came up; I've also covered it here when the Ma administration said they may considering allowing Taiwanese to serve on these councils).

MAC spokesman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) refuted the details of the report today, saying the MAC was still "in the process" of understanding the Political Consultative Conferences' inner workings, including differences between regular members and 'honorary members' (特聘委員), though Liu says that the MAC's initial studies indicate honorary members are still full committee members.

Liu also stated that if there were any proof that Taiwanese businessmen were serving in such capacities, the MAC would ask them to resign and if the businessmen refused to do so, the MAC would ask the SEF to fine the businessmen. Liu also said the MAC was not considering loosing these restrictions "at the present time."

My view is that Liu is hedging enough in his answers that I suspect the MAC had heard this news before and had decided not to act on it.

Letting Taiwanese businessmen on the council is a win-win situation for both the businesses and the Chinese government; it attaches influential Taiwanese to the Chinese political system and gives the Taiwanese businessmen some voice in defending their own interests there. But it is illegal and dangerous to Taiwan for obvious reasons, especially conflicts of interest and national loyalty complications.

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