On Jan. 26, former American Institute in Taiwan director William Stanton gave a speech in Taichung about relations between Taiwan, the US and China. Apart from stating that Taiwan is not part of China, he also suggested that Taiwan should bring in legislation to regulate politicians and media who seek benefits from, and act as spokespeople for, China in Taiwan, with the aim of influencing cross-strait policies or Taiwan-US-China relations.
Stanton said that China has for a long time been corrupting US politics by offering money in exchange for influence.
One of the most worrying things about US policies toward China is that US politicians and serving and retired government officials receive benefits from China, act as go-betweens between the US and China, and influence US policies in China’s favor, he said.
This kind of situation is even more serious in Taiwan, with many undeclared Chinese interests concealed within Taiwan’s political and media sectors, Stanton said, adding that Taiwan should bring in legislation that bans such people from receiving benefits from China and acting as its spokespeople in Taiwan, to Taiwan’s detriment.
On Jan. 30, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office named Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) as someone who “makes money on the mainland, while promoting Taiwan independence.”
Cheng hurriedly denied this accusation, but she really did not need to.
Considering how much China hates Taiwanese independence, if it tolerates anyone making money “on the mainland” while promoting Taiwanese independence, it must mean that the business concerned has some special feature that Taiwan should be proud of.
Actually, what the government should focus on is Taiwanese people who make money in China, declare themselves to be Chinese and promote unification. People like this, who get benefits in China and work in cahoots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, are the ones that Stanton was really talking about.
China’s fifth column has been infiltrating Taiwan for a long time and to an unimaginable extent. It builds alliances with certain political parties, and nurtures various social associations and gangland organizations.
Signs of China’s efforts to wield influence in favor of unification can be seen in almost every sphere, including news media, academia, all levels of government, the military, religion, the arts, entertainment and business.
However, Taiwan’s national security agencies have never done anything about it. They shrug it all off as freedom of speech or say that there are no laws to deal with it or that it is difficult to trace where the money involved comes from.
The US and Australia have woken up to the seriousness of this red menace and are adopting legislation to counter it.
Some members of the US House of Representatives have proposed a bill called Countering the Chinese Government and Communist Party’s Political Influence Operations Act, which would instruct US government and intelligence agencies to “develop a strategic assessment and long-term strategy to counter the Chinese government and Communist Party’s political influence operations, censorship, propaganda, and disinformation.”
Investigations conducted by the Australian government found that communist China has been secretly interfering in Australian politics for a decade, prompting then-Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to introduce the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2018, which were both enacted last year.
These laws provide direct countermeasures to China’s political influence operations, and a number of Australian political figures and Chinese immigrants have already been arrested under the legislation.
Among the top priority bills for the new session of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, one involves legal amendments in response to China’s new residence permits for Taiwanese, which were launched in September last year, and another seeks to regulate visits to China by retired military generals.
However, there are no laws that regulate Taiwanese traitors who receive benefits from China and stir up trouble in Taiwan.
Existing laws, such as the National Security Act (國家安全法), the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例), the National Intelligence Services Act (國家情報工作法), the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例), the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) and the Criminal Code, are really not sufficient to cope with China’s pro-unification influence operations and infiltration.
Taiwan should therefore move as quickly as possible to approve an act to counter political influence operations and infiltration, which would enable it to establish a comprehensive system of laws governing national security.
Lau Yi-te is chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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