From Focus Taiwan:
Taipei, Jan. 1 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) used her 2020 New Year’s Day speech Wednesday to defend her decision to ram through legislation a day earlier that criminalizes political activities backed by China.
In her speech delivered at the Presidential Office, Tsai said the new law will help safeguard the nation’s democracy by complementing existing laws that already ban those acts of infiltration as illegal.
“Only actions that are prohibited by law, and carried out under instruction from China, commissioned by China, or funded by China, will constitute infiltration,” Tsai said.
Also, courts have the final say on whether a person charged with violating the new law is deemed guilty or not, not the government, the president argued.
“I guarantee that the passage of the anti-infiltration act will not affect freedom or infringe upon human rights. It will not affect normal economic exchanges. It will only more strongly protect Taiwan’s democracy and freedom,” she said, pledging that Taiwanese people who study or do business in China will not be affected.
From the Taipei Times:
Following the passage of the bill, KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) presented a petition signed by 39 lawmakers that were opposed to the act, and told reporters outside the legislative chamber that the KMT and the PFP would request that the Council of Grand Justices pass down a constitutional interpretation once President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) ratifies it.
The petition was signed by 35 KMT legislators, three PFP legislators and Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅).
The DPP has abused its legislative majority to force through the bill, Tseng said.
The KMT caucus would have supported the bill if it had truly aimed at bolstering national security and improving social security, but its timing has shown that it was passed with the presidential and legislative elections on Saturday next week’s in mind, he said.
PFP Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) said that the PFP would request a constitutional interpretation, as it believes that the act would affect many Taiwanese businesspeople and students in China.
DPP caucus secretary-general Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said that he respected the pan-blue camp’s decision to file for a constitutional interpretation, but that he “did not see why it [the act] was unconstitutional.”
The act targets people who infiltrate the nation or carry out actions that harm the nation’s democracy on behalf of an infiltration source, so law-abiding Taiwanese businesspeople and students would not be affected, he said.
DPP caucus director-general Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said that the caucus had kept a low profile when discussing the bill for fear that opposition parties might hold “hostage” an already passed special budget of NT$250 billion (US$8.3 billion) for the procurement of 66 F-16 jets, the Act on the Procurement of Updated Fighter Jets (新式戰機採購條例) and the general budget if the anti-infiltration bill had been exposed.
This resulted in the caucus being smeared, with critics saying that the bill was designed to boost the DPP’s election prospects, Kuan said.
From Focus Taiwan:
The China-friendly opposition Kuomintang (KMT) has expressed concern that the bill could be used by the government to level unsubstantiated accusations, posing a direct threat to the 2 million Taiwanese who work and study in China.
In her New Year’s Day speech, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) defended her decision to ram through the legislation a day earlier that criminalizes political activities backed by China.
She said the new law will help safeguard the nation’s democracy by complementing existing laws that already proscribe acts of infiltration.
“We must be aware that China is infiltrating all facets of Taiwanese society to sow division. We must establish democratic defense mechanisms to prevent infiltration, Tsai said in her speech, adding that the law is against infiltration by China rather than targeting cross-strait exchanges.
In response, however, Lai said the new law falls short of a clear definition of what constitutes an act of infiltration, meaning that the authorities are free to decide whether the law has been violated, based on their own interpretations.
“Amid fears that they will be easily criminalized by the law due to a lack of a concrete definition, Taiwanese companies could stop conducting exchanges across the Taiwan Strait,” Lai said, urging the government to resume official exchanges with China.
Echoing Lai, Lee Yu-chia (李育家), head of The National Association of Small & Medium Enterprises, said many small and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan hope that Taiwan and China will normalize their bilateral ties by restarting an official dialogue.
Lee said that when Taiwanese investors want to enter the China market, they have to make contact with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the Association of Taiwanese Investment Enterprises on the mainland.
“So, as the Anti-infiltration Act goes into effect, Taiwanese firms are expected to see limitations on their activities on the mainland,” Lee said. “I hope the new law will give us a grace period to buffer the impact,” he added.
From the Taipei Times:
The New Power Party (NPP) yesterday described the passage of the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法) as a minimal but correct step.
Although the act provides a stronger legal tool to fight Chinese infiltration, there is obvious room for improvement, the party said in a statement.
For example, the act does not bar people from taking control of Taiwanese media outlets or running political advertisements for Beijing under the instruction or sponsorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the NPP said.
Nor does it bar people from spreading false information, which could affect national security, or releasing joint statements with the CCP to undermine Taiwan’s freedom and democracy under the instruction or sponsorship of the CCP, it said.
While the NPP had proposed motions to add articles addressing those areas, they were blocked by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus, it added.
Other areas that the act does not address include running for office, initiating referendums, purchasing key national infrastructure or politically sensitive technologies under the instruction or sponsorship of the CCP, the NPP said.
To protect the nation’s democracy, related laws must be further enhanced, it said.
While the act marks an important step toward building a stronger defense mechanism for Taiwan’s democracy, it is not “fully satisfactory” in its content, NPP Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said in a livesteam.