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Taiwanese Businessman: Protection Agreement in China "Not Possible"

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Uploaded on Sep 7, 2011

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Every year thousands of Taiwanese businessmen lose money because of official corruption in mainland China. Now Taiwan is trying to negotiate an agreement to protect Taiwanese businessmen in the mainland. A Taiwanese businessman talked with NTD about why he thinks that agreement won't work and about his 20-year-long struggle in China to get his money back.

Taiwanese officials are currently negotiating an Investment Protection Agreement with the Chinese regime. It aims to protect the assets of Taiwanese businessmen working in the mainland, and to ensure they get proper legal process if they are arrested, for example, for tax evasion.

The president of the Victims of Investment in China Association told The Taipei Times that there are more than 2000 businessmen "framed by Chinese every year." Local officials use a variety of methods to seize their assets, leaving many businessmen returning to Taiwan empty handed.

One such businessman is Shen Po-Sheng. Shen started investing in Tianjin in East China in 1992. He says his Chinese partners in the Tianjin city government seized all his assets in 1993. Shen lost 180-million Renminbi—that's 28-million U.S. dollars. When Shen stayed in China to try and get his money back, authorities harassed him.

[Shen Po-sheng, Taiwanese Businessman]:
"They would warn the landlord not to rent the house to me, so every half year I had to move, once every half year. After I went to Tiananmen to protest in 2007 police and security personnel started waiting outside my door. They regularly threaten you. If you make a fuss again they will not help you with anything. For 20 years they have threatened me. They make you too afraid to speak the truth, this is precisely the nature of the [Chinese] Communist Party."

Since 2007 Shen went to protest twice on Tiananmen Square with failed suicide attempts. But these protests eventually caught the attention of China's central authorities who reimbursed him with 16-million Renminbi (about 2.5-million U.S. dollars). That's less than 10 percent of what he lost.

Shen returned to Taiwan on July 2nd. He says before he left China, authorities forced him to sign a reconciliation agreement and warned him against speaking to media.

But now Shen is speaking out. At a press conference at the Taiwan Solidarity Union, Shen said that any agreement to protect Taiwanese businessmen will fail because Chinese authorities operate outside of the law.

[Shen Po-sheng, Taiwanese Businessman]:
"If you now say you want to use some system to protect Taiwanese people's legal rights, that is not possible. The reason this is not possible is that it touches upon the nature of the communist system. They can arbitrarily change the name all your property is registered under, the goods in your factory, it is even very easy for them to cancel your business license and documentation, they can cancel anything, it's very simple."

Talks over the agreement have made progress this summer, but hit a stumbling block on the issue of international arbitration. Many Taiwanese have little confidence in China's legal system and want a third country to act as an impartial referee. Yet the Chinese regime is strongly against what it calls the "internationalization" of cross-straight relations.
Ben Hedges

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