Taiwanese billionaire says he opposes island's independence after China fines his company $74 million

A Taiwanese business mogul has voiced opposition to Taiwan’s independence from China after Beijing fined his company as an alleged warning for firms to take its side on the issue of sovereignty.

What he said: In an opinion piece for the local United Daily News, Douglas Hsu, who chairs the Taipei-based Far Eastern Group, said he favors “maintaining the status quo,” like most Taiwanese. He expressed support for the “One-China” principle and opposed the idea of Taiwanese independence.

  • “Like most Taiwanese, I hope that cross-strait relations 'maintain the status quo.' I have always opposed Taiwan independence,” Hsu wrote, according to Reuters.

  • This marks the first time Hsu has publicly commented on the issue of cross-strait relations even as public speculation that he favored Taiwanese independence swirled. Hsu’s company, whose business ventures range from hotels to petrochemicals, was said to be one of the biggest donors to Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), according to Bloomberg. The party calls for Taiwan’s independence from mainland China.

  • Last week, China fined Far Eastern for 474 million yuan ($74.4 million) for multiple business violations across five mainland provinces and municipalities, Taiwan News reported. The move is perceived as retribution after Beijing warned Taiwanese firms against supporting independence if they wanted to continue operating in the mainland.

  • In addition to publicly opposing Taiwanese independence, Hsu lauded China’s rise as an economic powerhouse and raised concerns over the “guilt” Taiwanese businesses feel about investing in Beijing. “It doesn’t need to be like this,” he stressed.

Reactions: Hsu’s piece has drawn mixed reactions both at home and in the mainland. While he did not directly address his company’s fines, observers believe he was trying to assure China of his political stance.

  • “China has always been brutal. It doesn’t understand democracy, diversity or respect,” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said, according to Bloomberg. “We’ve seen many of China’s own wealthy businessmen suddenly disappear or be punished. This has even happened to their most beautiful celebrities.”

  • Taiwan's Economy Ministry described the self-governed island as the “safest, most stable investment environment” in a separate response, according to Reuters. The ministry added that the Taiwanese government “will not force any company to make political statements” and that all are treated equally.

  • Chinese state-run Global Times wrote that “Hsu's remarks showed that he finally realized the seriousness of the matter and started to declare his stance.” Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-straits expert at Minnan Normal University in China’s Fujian Province, also told the outlet that aside from Hsu’s words, “we also need to observe his actions and see whether he would play an active role in improving cross-straits ties.”

Hsu has a net worth of $2.5 billion as of Dec. 1, according to his Forbes profile.

Featured Image via Forbes Asia

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