Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) yesterday demanded that the nation’s security organs find out how “lawless” reporters from China-leaning Hong Kong newspapers Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao were granted entry into the nation.
The actions of the newspapers, which published a fabricated news report after shadowing young Hong Kong independence activists and a Taiwanese reporter this week, pose a real national security threat, he said.
The two newspapers on Monday published front-page stories about three members of Hong Kong independence advocacy group Socialocalism arriving in Taiwan.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
Ta Kung Pao on Wednesday published another front-page story that said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had sent an “emissary” to follow the activists and pass on to them knowledge about campaigning for independence.
The “emissary” was later found to be a reporter for the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times).
“How can they so lawlessly trespass on others’ territory and spy on them at will?” Lo said, citing the reporter as saying that he noticed a suspicious vehicle following the group around on the day he interviewed the activists.
Neither of the newspapers had applied for a permit to interview, Lo said, adding that their reporters could have entered the nation by pretending to be academics or with the help of local paparazzi.
The way the fabrications were published was a “blatant provocation” for the nation’s security organs, as it implied that Chinese state-backed news outlets could spy as they pleased on Taiwanese at home, in Hong Kong or in China, he said.
Lo called on the National Police Agency to step up patrols and inspections in the Boai Special District (博愛特區) in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District (中正) that is home to several government ministries and agencies.
Mainland Affairs Council Department of Hong Kong, Macau, Inner Mongolia and Tibet Affairs Director Chang Chang (張張) said that four Hong Kong and Macau-based news outlets have obtained permission to post 18 reporters at designated government agencies.
Neither Wen Wei Po nor Ta Kung Pao have permission, Chang said.
Should reporters from Hong Kong or Macau be found to have contravened the stated purpose of their visit, their entry permit would be revoked and they would be deported, she said.
The council could deny them re-entry for one to three years, she added.
A preliminary investigation found that the names in the bylines of the fabricated news stories were likely pseudonyms, National Immigration Agency (NIA) Entry and Exit Affairs Division Director Ko Kuang-wei (葛廣薇) said.
The NIA is investigating how they entered the nation, she said.
Separately yesterday, the deputy director of a national security unit that reports to the Investigation Bureau said that authorities would step up their investigation of pro-Beijing newspapers accused of spreading false news and conducting surveillance activities that threaten national security.
“The work on foreign hostile forces has been our top priority,” You Cheng-hua said. “We have been increasing our deployment and gathering intelligence.”
“I also urge the public and media to provide any tips on suspicious or illegal [activities],” he added.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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