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China denies Taiwan election interference, then interferes anyway

A Foxconn facility

Chinese authorities say their tax and land use probe into iPhone maker Foxconn is unrelated to forthcoming elections, but then cautions firms over "social responsibilities."

Foxconn is being investigated by two different Chinese authorities, with both happening to take place now, ahead of Taiwan's presidential elections in January. Foxconn founder Terry Gou is running for president, although he has stepped down from the company.

The investigations have been reported to be normal, but the authorities also decided to make publicity out them. This is the element that has been seen to be political, and the current front-runner for president has publicly called out China for interference.

According to the South China Morning Post, the authorities have made a rare comment on their investigations.

"The probes into whether companies are abiding by laws are normal law-enforcement activities," said Zhu Fenglian, on behalf of Taiwan Affairs Office, "and in line with laws and regulations."

However, spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian then stepped away from regulations and cautioned firms such as Foxconn that are Taiwanese, but operate in mainland China.

"While Taiwan businesses enjoy growth on the mainland, they should also assume corresponding social responsibilities," she said, "and play a more active role in promoting peaceful development of cross-strait ties."

China believes that Taiwan is part of its territory. Separately, it has previously enforced laws requiring components to be labeled as made in "Taiwan, China," before allowing them into the country.

Apple has not commented on the tax and land use probes. Foxconn has said only that it intends to cooperate with the investigations.