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Lawsuit alleges 'splittism' by famed accounting firm
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-01 08:55

A Fudan University professor has filed suit against one of the world's biggest accounting firms for allegedly violating China's Anti-secession Law.

Xie Baisan, a renowned authority on finance and securities, believes Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd ran afoul of the law because its Chinese Website listed China and Taiwan among the separate "countries" it serves.

Xie filed his action with the Huangpu District People's Court on Tuesday. The court said it will decide whether to accept the case within seven days, as the law stipulates.

In his suit, Xie said he wants Deloitte to correct the mistake, make a public apology and compensate him 100,000 yuan (US$12,346) for mental anguish.

He said the listing on www.deloitte.com.cn insults him as a Chinese citizen.

"It is an erroneous statement - one China, one Taiwan," said Xie. "As an accounting firm that must be very precise and deals with the law every day, it's unforgivable for Deloitte to make such a mistake."

After Xie filed suit, Deloitte changed the heading of the country list of its simplified-character Chinese site to indicate countries and "regions."

But the change was not made to its complex-Chinese section, which would be read by Taiwanese, and its English-language page.

Deloitte said yesterday it posted the list as a convenience to Website visitors who were looking for a specific location for its offices.

"We understand the response of the Chinese. We are sorry for the misunderstanding brought by our involuntary mistake. We have started to correct our Website, and it will take a certain period," the company said.

Deloitte stressed that it abides by the "one-China" policy.

Xie's alleged anguish aside, some legal experts doubt he will get very far with his suit.

Liu Chunquan, a lawyer for Guangsheng & Partners' Shanghai Office, said it isn't proper for a private citizen to file an action under the Anti-secession Law and that Xie will have trouble demonstrating that he was harmed by Deloitte's action. The law was passed in March to oppose splittism activities in Taiwan.

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