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China Sets Sights on Corporate Backers of Taiwan’s Independence

© Reuters.

(Bloomberg) — China said it will punish businesses and political donors with links to individuals supporting Taiwan independence, after it fined Taiwanese conglomerate Far Eastern Group.

“Businesses and financial sponsors associated with supporters of Taiwan independence will be penalized according to law,” Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian told reporters on Monday, according to a statement from her agency. Zhu said that backers of an independent Taiwan undermine cross-strait relations and risk stability in the Taiwan Strait. 

Zhu made the remark as she responded to a question about whether the punishment Far Eastern received earlier Monday was connected to China’s efforts to sanction Taiwanese politicians who support independence from the mainland. 

China has ratcheted up military, economic and diplomatic pressure on democratically run Taiwan since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s election win in 2016. Beijing says the island is part of its territory, a claim refuted by Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party.

According to local reports, Far Eastern Group has made donations to politicians affiliated with Taiwan’s ruling party as well as to the main opposition China-friendly Kuomintang. 

‘Sever Ties’

While Zhu did not directly characterize Far Eastern as an associate of pro-Taiwan politicians, she warned that China will never allow individuals and businesses that support Taiwan independence to make profits in China. 

A number of Far Eastern subsidiaries in China were fined after they were found to be violating laws and regulations, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, though the figure was not disclosed. It cited alleged violations by the group’s textile and cement ventures in environmental protection, land use, employees’ health, safe production, tax payment and product quality. 

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The two subsidiaries affected, Asia Cement Corp. and Far Eastern New Century Corp., were fined a total of 88.6 million yuan ($13.9 million), according to separate statements from the companies. Both said their operations in China weren’t impacted in a major way. 

In early November, China hit three top Taiwanese politicians with what it said were punishments that could be followed by criminal prosecution, as Beijing seeks to retaliate against Taipei’s overtures for greater international support. 

Premier Su Tseng-chang, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, speaker of the Legislative , or parliament, You Si-kun, and their relatives are all banned from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. The three — and any entities affiliated with them — are also prohibited from working with mainland-based organizations and individuals, while companies linked to them are barred from making profits there.

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