TAIPEI—On Sept. 5 in Taipei a Taiwanese businessman told of a 14-year-long struggle involving deception, betrayal, despair, and attempted suicides. He is seeking to convince his government not to lure other Taiwan businesses into making the same mistake he did: investing in mainland China.
At a press conference, Shen Bo-sheng recounted how in 1992 the Department of Agriculture and Forestry of the city of Tianjin, China, had deceived him into investing in China, an investment that he would lose completely. He told his story as part of an effort to oppose a proposed new law that Taiwan’s government says would provide protection to Taiwanese doing business in China.
Shen ponied up US$752,500 and formed a joint venture, the Tianjin Lawrance Decorations and Material Co. Ltd, with the Shuanglin Company in Tianjin. Soon after that, in response to his new partners’ request, he put in an additional 1 million yuan (US$157,000) as working capital.
Shen, however, was never allowed to review the accounts, and in 1994 the Chinese side took over the position of general manager. In 1998, Tianjin Lawrance claimed to be insolvent and filed for bankruptcy.
Shen then learned from Tianjin Lawrance employees that the Shuanglin Company had never actually invested any money in the joint venture.
All efforts Shen made at obtaining legal relief—through the government of Tianjin, the Procuratorate of Tianjin, and the High court of Tianjin—were blocked.
Shen said that an official with the Tianjin branch of the Taiwan Affairs (the Chinese state agency that helps coordinate trade with Taiwan) even proposed to find a Tianjin girl for him, trying to bribe him into silence.
Desperate, and with no last resort, he attempted suicide three times in Tiananmen Square.
In his third attempt, he cut his abdomen and his main artery, losing three quarts of blood. He nearly died. Shen displayed the 12-inch cut on his stomach at the news conference.
He has been threatened multiple times by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, who have told him that his case would not be processed if he spoke out, Shen said.
The 1994 Chinese law “Protection of Investments by Compatriots from Taiwan” deceived many Taiwanese into investing in China, Shen said, and the 1999 “Rules for Implementation of the Law on the Protection of Investments by Compatriots from Taiwan” lured even more Taiwanese businesses into the very same trap.
The proposed “Cross-Strait Investment Protection Agreement” is aimed at big Taiwanese enterprises.
If Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou signs that law, Shen said, it is likely to deceive more Taiwanese businesses into investing in mainland China.
“President Ma should open his eyes. The CCP is using its United Front strategy to trick the Taiwan businessmen into investing in China. No real protection for the investor exists there,” Shen said.
Before Ma signs the new law, Shen said, Ma should insist that China process the cases of those victimized in the past.
The problem of businessmen being defrauded in China is not limited to Taiwanese businessmen. Shen called attention to the many cases of Chinese businessmen who have been victimized in a similar fashion.
“Can their government protect their own people’s legal rights?” Shen asked. “If they can’t, how can they protect the legal rights of Taiwanese?”
Local officials in China, Shen said, can victimize an investor by taking his assets and threatening him with death. He asked, “Have any of these officials ever been punished?”
Mr. Huang Kun-huei, the Chairman of Taiwan Solidarity Union, and William Kao, the President of Victims of Investment in China Association (VICA), attended the news conference.
William Kao said that every year there are 2,000 incidents similar to Shen’s case involving Taiwanese businessmen.
“Every case is stained with blood. There are several tens of thousands of cases of Taiwanese businessman being defrauded in the past 20 years, it is just that many of them finally chose to give up pursuing the legal option,” Kao said.
Huang urged President Ma to be “clear-headed.”
“Don’t have any illusions about the CCP,” Huang said. “Before signing the agreement, the CCP should display sincerity by resolving the cases of victimized Taiwanese businessmen, who should have been involved in negotiating past trade agreements. Otherwise, it will not serve any purpose—regardless of how many agreements they sign.”
Huang urged Ma to “not be an accomplice to the CCP’s robbing Taiwanese businessmen.”
Read the original Chinese article.
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