The Executive Yuan has submitted a proposal to amend the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) to the legislature, which, if passed, would boost the penalties for people convicted of spying for China.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have also submitted draft amendments, and the Judiciary Committee is expected to review the bills on Wednesday and Thursday.
There are concerns about loopholes in the national security laws, including not recognizing China as a foreign state, which means that people spying for China are not considered foreign agents, DPP lawmakers said.
Other problems include the law not distinguishing between leaking secrets to Taiwanese and leaking secrets to foreign nationals, and not enumerating specific penalties, they said.
Under the Executive Yuan’s bill, the maximum sentence for passing top secret classified information to China would be increased from seven years in prison to 15 years.
The bill would also increase the length of sentences for leaking secrets to foreign citizens or Chinese nationals, including residents of Hong Kong and Macau, from the current one to seven years to three to 10 years, and increase the sentence length for illegal disclosure of top secret information by 50 percent, raising the maximum sentence from 10 years to 15 years.
The Executive Yuan bill also stipulates stiffer sentences for disclosing unclassified but privileged information to foreign citizens and Chinese nationals, or for probing for such information on their behalf, and stipulates that attempted breaches of the act are to be subjected to specific punishments.
Government ministries and agencies would no longer have the power to reduce the three-year period of required vetting for former government employees with security clearances who want to travel abroad, according to the Executive Yuan’s bill.
DPP Legislator Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) has submitted a draft bill broadly similar to the Executive Yuan’s proposal, while a number of other DPP lawmakers have also suggested amendments.
DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng’s (羅致政) proposal stipulates that those convicted of spying on behalf of “hostile foreign powers” should receive a 50 percent increase to their prison term.
A proposal by DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) would link the length of a prison sentence to the classification level of the compromised information, with those disclosing top secret information to foreign states potentially receiving a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The country’s efforts at international military and intelligence cooperation and arms procurement have been repeatedly frustrated because allies fear their secrets could be compromised by Chinese operatives, Lo said.
“Increasing the penalty against communist spies is, without a doubt, an urgent national security priority,” he said.
DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu’ (王定宇) has also proposed a new amendment to Clause 10 of the Criminal Code to clarify the term “adversary” in terms of expanding the definition of treason in the code to include “collusion with an adversary,” updating a proposal that he submitted last year, another lawmaker said.
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