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TAIWAN UP AGAINST CHINA: 'WE'RE AN EGG TRYING TO HIT A ROCK' (int'l edition)

Formosa Plastics Chairman Wang Yung-ching, 80, is no stranger to controversy. Wang spoke frankly about his ambitions in China, his estranged son, Winston, and his views of relations between China and Taiwan in a rare interview. He was questioned by BUSINESS WEEK's Asia Regional Editor, Joyce Barnathan, and Taiwan correspondent Jonathan Moore.

Q: What is your reaction to Taiwan's opposition to your plan to build a power plant in China?

A: The government should approve it. I'll respect the government's decision, but personally I think Taiwan should be more internationalized and globalized.

Q: We hear that the land is being prepared for the power plant in China. Is that true?

A: If I don't do the groundbreaking, then everything will be stopped. How can I allow that to happen? If we stop, the other side will say that we're not interested.

Q: What is your view of China's economic development?
A: They are going to a market economy. A free-market economy is a logical economy. It provides for people's needs. I once told them you can't think of that without thinking about democracy, too. You can't say a market economy has nothing to do with freedom.

Q: Do you think that the death of Deng Xiaoping will affect the pace of reform in China?

A: No matter what factions are in charge, it won't change the fact that everybody wants to go down the road of a market economy. I don't think that the death of Deng Xiaoping will change those facts.

Q: President Lee Teng-hui feels China uses Taiwanese investment to gain political leverage over Taiwan. Do you agree?

A: The reason that Taiwanese are going to China is that they need cheap labor that they just can't get in Taiwan. Mainland China didn't lure Taiwanese businessmen to go there, they want to go there themselves.

Q: Do you believe that there is one China and that Taiwan is a part of China?

A: I think that 99% of the people on the mainland agree that Taiwan is part of China. It's unfair, but what can we do? So, since the whole world thinks that Taiwan is part of China, then, politically, we have to be very smart. Lee Teng-hui is probably doing the right thing.... [Still,] I want to say something to Lee Teng-hui: We're an egg trying to hit a rock. How can we win?

Q: So do you believe in the concept of one country, two systems?
A: Taiwan is now very different. Mainland China has been closed for too long. Even two brothers in the same family can't work together under certain conditions. When the older brother is working so hard and the younger one doesn't, their life will be totally different.

Q: Who will run this company when you step down? Will you bring your son, Winston, back?

A: My business is not a family business anymore, so even if Winston were here, he's not necessarily the one to take over.... If Winston were here, [he] would be redundant. Now, the picture is much cleaner.



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