Businesses in China move away from Taiwan amid Pelosi backlash

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BEIJING (Reuters) – From a Chinese soy sauce maker to an Asia-focused asset manager, Chinese firms are rushing to distance themselves from geopolitical tensions around Taiwan after last week’s visit to the island of a senior US official.

China claims Taiwan as its territory, and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last week – in defiance of Beijing’s warnings – sparked a wave of Chinese nationalism and huge military exercises.

Chinese social media users have targeted companies and celebrities they see as unpatriotic or pro-Taiwan independence with heavy criticism – such as candy brand Snickers, whose owner apologized last week for a product launch considered to suggest that Taiwan is a country.

On Saturday, Foshan Haitian Flavoring and Food Co Ltd, China’s biggest soy sauce maker by sales, issued a lengthy apology, saying it fired an unidentified employee who caught social media attention with a private message celebrating Pelosi’s visit.

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“The inappropriate content posted is seriously against Haitian culture, does not correspond to Haitian values ​​and has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, producing a negative societal influence,” the company said on its Weibo account, promising to better manage its employees. .

Another firm, Asia-focused asset manager Matthews International Capital Management, issued a clarification on Monday after it was described by Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao as being founded by the husband of Pelosi, saying those claims were “factually incorrect.”

It stated on its website that it was founded by Paul Matthews, not Paul Pelosi, nor did it have any current ownership or business ties with William Hambrecht, who is a friend and political supporter of Pelosi, unlike the media.

“We take recent misrepresentations and misrepresentations about our business very seriously and are working with the media to take prompt corrective action,” said Matthews, whose principal owners are Paul Matthews, Mark Headley, Mizuho Financial Group Inc and the Royal Bank of Canada. In Monday.

In a separate case, Taiwanese chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) has distanced itself from its founder Robert Tsao, which last week pledged to donate NT$3 billion (US$100 million ) to help Taiwan bolster its defenses, after its comments were pilloried by Chinese social media users.

In a statement, UMC said, “Mr. Tsao retired from UMC more than 10 years ago. He has nothing to do with UMC.”

Chinese state media issued warnings, saying companies should consider their access to the world’s second-largest economy over the situation in Taiwan and Pelosi, who, along with her immediate family, was sanctioned by China after her visit.

“It can be expected that if any ties of interest with China are found in the business activities of Pelosi and members of his immediate family, they will be permanently severed,” said the Global Times newspaper, backed by l ‘State, in an editorial this weekend.

China’s military on Monday announced new military drills in the seas and airspace around Taiwan – a day after the scheduled end of its largest-ever drills, confirming fears by some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing continues to keep pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista, Samuel Shen, Sarah Wu; Editing by Brenda Goh and Mark Potter)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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