Sun, Apr 14, 2019 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: Handling deportation transparently

Pro-unification Chinese academic Li Yi (李毅) was on Friday morning deported after it was found that he planned to attend a Chinese Unity Promotion Party (CUPP) seminar.

Reports about Li’s arrest at a hostel in Nantou County and his subsequent deportation were filled with confusing and contradictory information.

One report referred to him as a “US academic,” while another called him a “Chinese academic.” Li works in the US, but he entered Taiwan on an entry permit because he is a Chinese citizen — making his country of employment irrelevant.

Reports variously attributed Li’s arrest to his being a “threat to national security” or his having “breached the terms of his tourism entry permit.”

Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said that Li had contravened Article 16 of the Regulations Governing the Approval of People of the Mainland Area Visiting Taiwan for Purposes of Tourism (大陸地區人民來台從事觀光活動許可辦法).

As the National Immigration Agency said that Li posed a potential threat to national security, Yotaka must have been referring to that part of Article 16.

Without a doubt, most Taiwanese would not necessarily welcome someone into the nation who has called for the People’s Liberation Army to invade Taiwan, but the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration must handle the issue carefully.

If Li is truly a “terrorist,” as Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said on Friday, then why was he allowed to visit? On the other hand, if Taiwan allows free speech, why would Li’s comments about wanting China’s military to attack Taiwan be a problem?

While China is known to use Taiwan’s democracy against it, the government cannot be indecisive when tackling such issues.

It could have announced that Li was breaching the conditions of his entry permit by engaging in activity not related to tourism, but most would have quickly recognized the true motive for deporting him.

Such a response might prompt visiting Chinese government agents to become more devious: Maybe they would wait and not reveal the purpose of their visit until the last minute, or they might declare the purpose of their visit openly and challenge the government on its position of protecting freedom of speech.

A better approach might have been for the government to amend the law, denying entry to any Chinese citizen who advocates military action against Taiwan, but this still would not resolve the thorny question of why the DPP administration is so threatened by talk of unification.

If most Taiwanese do not want unification, what does it matter if people hold pro-unification discussions at a private seminar?

The government should take issue with public disturbances by pro-unification groups: for example, when Chang Wei (張瑋), son of former Bamboo Union (竹聯幫) leader Chang An-le (張安樂), attacked Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Members of the Concentric Patriotism Alliance, CUPP and other pro-unification groups in Taiwan often hold rallies and protests in public spaces frequented by tourists, such as the Ximending (西門町) shopping district in Taipei and the square in front of Taipei 101. These demonstrations could pose a threat to public safety and should not be permitted.

The government should deny entry to anyone instigating violence or seeking to destabilize society, but, to avoid scrutiny, it should revise the law so that denying such people entry cannot be called into question.

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