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Hong Kong businessman offered NT$50 million for a meeting: Taiwan ex-president

Chinese influence in Taiwan politics has been around for decades: Chen

Ex-President Chen Shui-bian (center) speaking in Chiayi Wednesday.

Ex-President Chen Shui-bian (center) speaking in Chiayi Wednesday. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Hong Kong businessman once wanted to pay NT$50 million (US$1.63 million) to see him while he was in power, but he turned the offer down, former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said Wednesday (November 27).

The statement came amid allegations from a former Chinese spy in Australia that China was funding the opposition in Taiwan to try and influence elections on the democratic island, including the January 11, 2020 presidential and legislative polls.

Speaking in Chiayi Wednesday, Chen told reporters that since he thought the businessman’s motivation was suspect, he had refused the offer of money. The case was an example of how Chinese money had been finding its way into Taiwanese politics, the Central News Agency quoted Chen as saying.

The practice had existed for decades but had only become more serious over the most recent years, he said.

Last weekend, the former president expressed concern about China’s rising influence, including the presence of the red five-star People’s Republic of China flags all over Taiwan, CNA reported.

Chen was reportedly still hoping to feature on the at-large list of legislative candidates for the Taiwan Action Party Alliance. The Central Election Commission was still reviewing his nomination, but officials said he might be ineligible because he had not finished his 20-year prison sentence for corruption. The former president spent about six years in jail before being released on medical parole.