China Ramps Up Pressure on Taiwanese Companies

By Jonathan Walker | November 23, 2021
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
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Taipei city's skyline in August, 2020. (Image: via Pixabay)

Taiwanese firms operating in China are now facing heightened pressure from Beijing, with the communist regime warning them not to support the island’s pro-independence activities. Beijing does not recognize Taiwan as a separate, democratic entity but sees it as a disconnected part that needs to be joined with the mainland in order to create a unified China. 

The Chinese Communist Party has vowed to reclaim the island by any means necessary, even if it means utilizing military force.

The warning came in the backdrop of Taiwan’s Far Eastern Group attracting punishment from Chinese authorities. The group is known to have contributed funds to both pro-Beijing and pro-independence politicians in Taiwan. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) subsequently warned that those who supported Taiwan independence were harming Chinese interests.

“The majority of Taiwanese businessmen and enterprises must distinguish right from wrong, stand firm, draw a clear line with the Taiwan independence separatist forces, and take practical actions to maintain the peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” the office stated. “Companies and financiers who support Taiwanese independence activities need to be “punished in accordance with the law,” it added.

The group has a wide range of business interests in mainland China, ranging from petrochemicals to hotels. Chinese law enforcement found several issues with the group’s businesses, including fire safety, taxes, etc. 

The violations were discovered at the company’s subsidiary-owned factories in Jiangsu, Hubei, Jiangxi, Sichuan, and Shanghai. Two units were fined more than 88 million yuan (USD $13.77 million). 

“Looks to me like another small ratchet up, moving from targeting Taiwanese individuals to firms… I’d imagine there will be significant resistance to this. The local partners are also making money,” Kharis Templeman, a political scientist with the Hoover Project on Taiwan, said in a social media post.

It is not just Taiwanese companies facing increasing heat from Beijing’s move to suppress the island. The Chinese government has also taken action against the country of Lithuania for supporting Taiwan.

Lithuania had recently allowed the island’s government to open an embassy in the country, raising Taiwan’s recognition internationally. In response, Beijing downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania. The European nation expressed regret at China’s actions but asserted its decision to cooperate with Taiwan while recognizing Beijing’s “One China” policy.

“We urge the Lithuanian side to correct its mistakes immediately and not to underestimate the Chinese people’s firm determination and staunch resolve to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese foreign ministry stated

Taiwan has remained a sore spot for the CCP since its inception. And although there are Taiwanese officers in Europe and North America, they have avoided using a direct reference to the island, opting instead to use the name of “Taipei city.”

Meanwhile, an American warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Nov. 23, irking Beijing in the process. According to the U.S. Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Milius conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” in compliance with international laws. 

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” the U.S. Navy said.

Beijing responded by calling the presence of USS Milus in the Taiwan Strait as undermining regional stability and creating security risks. Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command (ETC), said that they had closely monitored the passage of USS Milus and that its forces were ready to take all necessary steps in countering potential threats to national sovereignty. The Pentagon is also known to routinely send warships to sail through the Taiwan Strait every month.