Taiwan: Beijing may be Secret Buyer of Taiwan Media
"The Government Information Office (GIO) has asked relevant government agencies, including the National Security Bureau and the Economic Ministry, to investigate the investment structure of the acquisition," said Yao Wen-chih, director of the GIO, Taiwan's top media regulator.
He was referring to China Times Group's acquisition of a radio and TV stations as well as a film studio owned in part or in whole by the KMT.
"The GIO has also sent a letter to the group today, asking it to clarify in three days the funding structure of its latest purchase deal," Yao added this afternoon.
Taiwan has banned Chinese investments in local businesses since it and China split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
The KMT, once the world's wealthiest political party, on Monday was forced to sell the China Broadcasting Corp (BCC), the wireless Chinese Television Co (CTV) and the China Motion Picture Corp to a consortium formed by the China Times Group, the island's largest newspaper group, under pressure from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The KMT's stake in the three media groups is 97 per cent in BCC, 34 pr cent in CTV and 50 per cent in the film studio.
The transaction is worth 5.8 billion Taiwan dollars (176 million U.S. dollars), but the group must also shoulder those media outlets' liability, worth around 5 billion Taiwan dollars.
Parliamentarians of the DPP and its pro-independence ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), Tuesday alleged that China was behind the deal.
They suspected that the Taipei-based China Times Group only acted as a proxy for the Chinese government to try to gain influence over the Taiwanese public through those media outlets.
"I wonder how China Times can afford to pay for the deal, especially after it recently shut down its evening newspaper due to financial difficulties," questioned TSU lawmaker Huang Shih-chuo.
Taiwan press reports said the consortium comprises the China Times Group, the Fubon Insurance Co., Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc., soft drink company Paolyta Co., Huaku Construction Co., Polaris International Securities investment Trust and Hong Kong tycoon Lee Ka-shing.
Lee has close ties with China. On February 26, 2004, he was ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's 19th-richest man, with 12.4 billion U.S. dollars in assets.
Under Taiwan law, TV stations must be 100 per cent owned by local groups.
Source: Bangkok Post