Evergreen No More
May 05, 2006
Chen Shui-bian’s Journey to Enhance Popularity / Detour Diplomacy is a May 5, 2005 news report from ETToday News, a major cable TV news station on Taiwan. This is the kind of news story that English speaking readers are unlikely to ever read on the pages of the Taiwan independence mouthpiece known as the Taipei Times, because it is simply too devastating.
Chang Rong-fa, in case you are unfamiliar with the name, is the Chinese shipping magnate who heads up the Evergreen Group, the parent company of Evergreen Marine Corporation, the fourth largest maritime shipping in the world, as well as EVA Air, one of the largest customers of Boeing planes in the world. If you have ever been to a port, you have probably seen Evergreen shipping containers being moved about by cranes. If you have ever been to an airport, you have probably seen EVA Air passenger planes taxiing along the runway.
Chang Rong-fa, along with Chi-mei Enterprises’ now retired CEO Hsu Wen-long, used to be one of the Taiwan independence movement’s most generous benefactors. Chang’s relationship with Chen Shui-bian goes back 30 years, to when Chen was just beginning his political career. When Chen was a mere freshman in the ROC legislature, he had a staff of two dozen people, provided him free of charge by Chang Rong-fa.
Chen would not be where he is today without Chang. As far as Chen Shui-bian is concerned, he owes his presidency to Chang Rong-fa. As far as Chen is concerned, Chang is a king-maker, and Chen is the king Chang made. Keep this in mind as you read the following news report.
Chang Rong-fa used to be so “green,” i.e., pro DPP, pro Taiwan independence, that not only were his ships and planes painted bright green, even his corporate headquarters buildings were clad in bright green ceramic tiles.
The defection of immensely powerful and influential Pan Green business figures such as Chang Rong-fa and Hsu Wen-long from the ranks of the Taiwan independence movement effectively marks the demise of Taiwan independence as a political force.
Chen Shui-bian’s Journey to Enhance Popularity / Detour Diplomacy, Chang Rong-fa criticizes Chen Shui-bian’s diplomatic visits, asking what’s the point?
Center for Economics and Finance / Combined Report
English Translation by Bevin Chu:
The president’s visits [to Paraguay and Costa Rica] have encountered a string of setbacks, even as Evergreen Group president Chang Rong-fa, who is about to build a new Evergreen Group headquarters building in Shanghai, prepares to visit the mainland next week to meet with mainland president Hu Jintao. During a visit to Tokyo Chang criticized the Chen government, saying that even before Chen left Taiwan, the governments he was preparing to visit began demanding money. “What’s the point of this kind of diplomacy?” Chang said “The Chen administration has been in office six years, and still the only thing they can think about is gaining a political advantage and electioneering.”
When interviewed on February 5, 2004, Evergreen Group president Chang Rong-fa said that the president was a fool. “I tried to explain maritime transport to him but he couldn’t understand.”
Two years ago Chang pubicly criticized the president over the issue of direct postal, maritime shipping, and commercial air passenger links [between the Taiwan and mainland regions of China]. This time, Chang, who is currently in Tokyo, couldn’t resist criticizing him again. Chang said the ruling party had been in office for six years, yet all it could think about was gaining political advantage and electioneering. This presidential visit hadn’t even gotten off the ground before the governments he was preparing to visit began demanding money. “What’s the point of this kind of diplomacy?” Chang said, if it were up to him, he wouldn’t go.
Chang Rong-fa said that over the past few years far too many economic opportunities had been blocked by the government. Large scale enterprises can survive by doing business in other countries, but what are ordinary folks earning a meager income operating small businesses supposed to do? Chang said the president and ruling party shouldn’t do nothing but denounce others all the time. Considering how Hong Kong was becoming more prosperous day by day following its retrocession to China, Chang asked, what evidence could the Taiwan authorities cite to prove that our current arrangement is superior to One Country, Two Systems?
Chang Rong-fa, who has met with Jiang Zemin and Zhao Ziyang a number of times, will fly to Beijing next week to meet with Hu Jintao. .
Chang said that the mainland was rapidly moving in the direction of democratic socialism, while Taiwan paradoxically was moving in the direction of a “locked nation policy” and turning away economic opportunities. He said bluntly that this was an extremely unfavorable development. Chang went so far as to propose a future One Country, Two Systems confederation as an option for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and said that whoever is in power should give more thought to how to improve the people’s livelihood.
Only last month Chang Rong-fa’s son Chang Kuo-cheng shook hands with Hu Jintao for a full eight seconds at the KMT/CCP forum. Today, while in Tokyo, Chang Rong-fa harshly criticized the ruling DPP’s cross-Straits policies to the media, revealing the extent to which Evergreen is aggressively shedding its “Pan Green Enterprise” political label and establishing its foothold on the Chinese mainland.