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Taiwan business in China may halt business due to row with tenants

TAIPEI--An enterprise owned by a Taiwanese company in Zhejiang province, China said yesterday it may suspend its business there in light of a dispute with its tenants.

Buynow (百腦匯), an affiliate of Taiwanese notebook computer manufacturer Clevo (藍天), said the dispute arose after rental fee negotiations with its tenants in Hangzhou City broke down Wednesday afternoon.

The company said many of its executives and staff were injured as they were assaulted and jostled by about 100 people. The Buynow delegation was escorted away from the area by Hangzhou police at 2 a.m. Thursday, the company said.

At issue is a request by some tenants that they should be given permission in their rent contracts to sublet their spaces, a proposal that Buynow said was not acceptable. Another meeting is planned for Saturday.

The Buynow Hangzhou outlet is a six-story building that houses more than 600 vendors. Buynow said it has not raised its rental fees for three years.

Over the past two years, however, its tenants have been threatening violence and on Wednesday they banded together to push for legal subletting, the company said.

“We cannot accept the actions of some tenants to intimidate our representatives by violent and non-rational means and certainly cannot accommodate the tenants' request to allow subletting,” Buynow said.

“We are worried that if we set such a precedent, it will spread to all 22 of our outlets in China,” the company said.

An executive on the building's management committee pointed out that the law forbids subletting, but a representative of the tenants said it is common in Zhejiang to find loopholes in the law, and the company “should follow that practice.”

Buynow said it is a legal company that is facing threats by its tenants and it hopes Taiwan and China will move to protect the rights of Taiwanese businessmen on the mainland.

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