Chinese philanthropist suggests cross-strait rail link

Jan 31, 2011    Taipei Times

Chinese philanthropist Chen Guangbiao¡¦s (³¯¥ú¼Ð) ¡§thanksgiving¡¨ visit to Taiwan sparked more controversy over the weekend after he proposed a rail between China and Taiwan and promised that China would pay for the cross-strait rail link.

Chen Guangbiao
Chen Guangbiao

Calling China the ¡§big brother¡¨ in the relationship between China and Taiwan, Chen said Taiwan was like ¡§family¡¨ and that Chinese industrialists would be more than happy to donate toward the project¡¦s construction costs.

¡§Our brothers and sisters [of Taiwan] should relax ¡K we won¡¦t ask you to pay one dollar,¡¨ he said to rousing applause during a dinner in Taipei City on Saturday, where he handed out hundreds of red envelopes filled with cash.

Chen¡¦s comments, made in front of hundreds of guests, came despite an insistence that his visit would be low profile.

Chen arrived with 47 other Chinese industrialists on Wednesday to donate NT$500 million (US$17.244 million) to Taiwan¡¦s poor.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians rallied against those remarks yesterday, accusing the Chinese tycoon, ranked 223rd on Forbes¡¦ China rich list, of harboring political motives. His ideas were a ¡§Trojan Horse¡¨ of cross-strait politics, one said.


¡§His proposal is simply not possible,¡¨ DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (¶À°¶­õ) said. ¡§Furthermore, his suggestion that China is the ¡¥big brother¡¦ is an insult to Taiwan¡¦s sovereignty and dignity.¡¨

DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (¶À²Q­^) compared the rail link, which would cross under either 130km of ocean or through gale force winds, to China¡¦s unification efforts to win over the country.

¡§Building a high speed rail connection is simply a shortcut for political unification,¡¨ she said. ¡§It¡¦s like an alternative version of the Trojan Horse story.¡¨ Reports said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians were also miffed at Chen¡¦s ¡§big brother¡¨ remarks.

¡§It¡¦s unacceptable,¡¨ KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (§d²M¦À) told reporters.

Taiwan and China should be in an ¡§equal relationship,¡¨ he said.

This was not the first time Chen has sparked debate during his controversial trip, his fifth to Taiwan.

Embossed on his 50,000 red envelopes were the words: ¡§The Chinese race is one family,¡¨ while a post on his blog says: ¡§The motherland is Taiwan¡¦s anchor of support.¡¨

Soon after stepping off the plane, he told reporters he was in the country to ¡§convey the warmth of the motherland.¡¨


However, the 42 year-old industrialist told Agence France-Presse earlier that: ¡§I don¡¦t know anything about propaganda for Chinese reunification. I only know about charity and environmental work. I just want to do good.¡¨

Chen yesterday made a NT$10 million donation to the Taoyuan County Government, double the amount announced earlier. Half would be used for NT$1,000 subsidies for the disadvantaged, while the rest would be set aside for other social work.

Taoyuan County, which initially rebuffed Chen¡¦s advances, reportedly accepted the donation after Chen said he would hand the cash over directly instead of distributing it in red envelopes to hundreds of people as he has in other events.

During the handover, Chen said members of his group were not satisfied with the arrangement, telling him they had ¡§no choice but to suffer in silence.¡¨

Meanwhile, Pingtung County Commissioner Tsao Chi-hung (±ä±ÒÂE) said he would welcome a visit by Chen to his county, the first invitation from a DPP administrator. Tsao said he hoped the tycoon could support the county¡¦s welfare system instead of giving cash to low income recipients.

Chen is scheduled to leave Taiwan for China tomorrow.