One of Taiwan’s richest businessmen has pushed back against claims that he secretly backs the island’s formal independence from China, breaking his silence for the first time since coming under fire from the Chinese Communist Party.

Douglas Hsu, chairman of the Taipei-based Far Eastern Group, said he opposes the notion that Taiwan is an independent country and is concerned about rising anti-China sentiment in Taiwan. In an opinion piece for the United Daily News Tuesday, he highlighted the importance of the Chinese economy to Taiwanese companies.

“With the political atmosphere as it is in Taiwan right now, public opinion leaves Taiwanese businesses feeling guilty when they invest in China,” he wrote. “It doesn’t need to be like this.”

The article was Hsu’s first public comment since two Far Eastern Group companies based in China were fined 88.6 million yuan ($13.9 million) last week, ostensibly for environmental, land use, health and safety and other violations.

Chinese officials and state-backed media made it clear that the fines were connected to Far Eastern’s role as one of the biggest political donors to Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. The DPP asserts the island is a sovereign nation separate from the People’s Republic of China while avoiding a formal independence declaration that could trigger a war.

In early November, China announced a new range of sanctions against Taiwanese politicians that it sees as key figures in furthering independence and any companies that provide them with financial backing. The move comes amid a broader crackdown on corporate China to ensure it acts in line with Beijing’s goals, with even popular celebrities being fined or erased from the internet.

When asked about Hsu’s article, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the world has rejected the Communist Party’s “one-party dictatorship, arbitrary actions, pressure on our citizens and their use of businesses to further their political goals.”

“China has always been brutal. It doesn’t understand democracy, diversity or respect,” Su said. “We’ve seen many of China’s own wealthy businessmen suddenly disappear or be punished. This has even happened to their most beautiful celebrities.”

While Hsu’s op-ed didn’t directly reference the fines, it appeared largely tailored to assuaging Chinese concerns about his political position, with some of his statements echoing China’s official position on Taiwan.

“I, like the majority of Taiwanese, hope that both sides of the Taiwan Strait can maintain the status quo. I have always opposed Taiwanese independence,” he wrote. “In line with the U.S. and the international community, I support the ‘one-China principle.’”

Beijing’s One China principle asserts that the self-governing, democratic island is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and differs significantly from Washington’s “One China Policy,” which views Taiwan’s sovereignty as undetermined.

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