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Wed, Nov 21, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Several hundred Chinese immigrants serving in military

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

More than 400 immigrants from China are serving in the military as conscripts, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.

The press questioned whether this phenomenon posed a potential threat to national security since it offers a chance for Chinese infiltrators to sabotage the Taiwan military from within.

The MND ruled out the possibility however, saying all Chinese immigrants serving as conscripts have undergone background checks and are under close watch while in the military.

"We do need to monitor these Chinese immigrants since the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are still in a mutually hostile state," said Colonel Chang Ho-hsing (張和興), deputy director of the security division of the general political warfare department.

"We check the background of all Chinese immigrants before we draft them into service," Chang said.

Chang made the remarks yesterday at a regular press conference of the MND in response to inquiries from the press on the issue.

MND spokesman Major General Huang Sui-sheng (黃穗生) added that Chinese immigrants can serve in the military either as conscripts or volunteers as long as they have lived in Taiwan for 10 years.

The conscripts currently serving came to Taiwan after the government began allowing veterans, who fled China in 1949 with the nationalist government, to have their close relatives in China move to Taiwan.

They were all minors when they arrived in Taiwan. After 10 years, they became citizens and as such are required to serve the compulsory military term once they reach the age of 18.

An official with the MND, who declined to be identified, said it is almost impossible that these Chinese immigrants could have been trained by the communists as spies at such an early age.

"The public has reason to wonder whether there are Chi-nese spies among these immigrants. But the possibility is extremely low," the official said.

Meanwhile, the MND announced yesterday that an order has been issued to all branches of the military forbidding active-duty military personnel from traveling to Chinese territories without permission.

Military personnel are also forbidden from communicating with people in Chinese territories, including the mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao, using telephone or information services based in military camps, the MND said.

Violations of the order will be met with administrative punishments, the MND said.

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