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Taiwanese Say Australia Anti-Asian

June 17, 1998

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ Taiwanese companies are reassessing plans to invest in Australia because of the rise of anti-immigration, protectionist political party One Nation, a Taiwanese business leader said Wednesday.

In the first sign that the success of the party in a state election last weekend was affecting the Australian economy, the Taiwan-Australia Business Association said potential business investors feared anti-Asian sentiment.

``Quite a big number of companies called to this office to ask our opinion,″ association spokesman Jim Sheu said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio from Brisbane.

``They are really concerned because Taiwanese newspapers and TV put the headlines that say One Nation is anti-Asian,″ he said.

One Nation has sent shockwaves through Australian politics after winning around 23 percent of the vote in last Saturday’s Queensland election. Recent opinion polls have placed the party’s support nationally in low double figures.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has been criticized as racist for claiming Australia is in danger of being ``swamped by Asians″ and opposing immigration. She also opposes special welfare benefits for Aborigines and advocates protectionist economic policies.

Sheu said he had told about 10 businesses that he did not believe One Nation voters were anti-Asian, but advised them to hold off investing until after the federal election.

Prime Minister John Howard is expected to call an election this year, possibly as early as August.

Jim Soorley, Mayor of the Queensland capital Brisbane, said Tuesday the Taiwan Sugar company had canceled plans to invest $12 million in the state because of One Nation’s rise and would set up its planned sugar development in News South Wales instead.

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