Thu, Jun 07, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Green-blue divide forces committee to adjourn

CROSS-STRAIT TIES Two amendments proposed by KMT lawmakers had DPP colleagues in the Home and Nations Committee seeing red yesterday

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pan-blue draft amendments to the Statute Governing Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) on Chinese immigration ignited pan-green lawmakers' tempers yesterday amid concerns that the bill would tempt a fresh wave of Chinese spies into the country.

Long a flashpoint between ruling and opposition party lawmakers, the statute governs a sweeping array of cross-strait links, from trade, investment and tourism to immigration.

A separate pan-blue draft amendment to the statute seeking to lift restrictions on the transfer of sensitive technologies from Taiwan to China, sparked a near brawl in the legislature last Friday, as pan-green lawmakers forced the Home and Nations Committee to adjourn prematurely.

Faced with equally controversial amendments yesterday, pan-green lawmakers again engaged their opposition colleagues in bickering so intense that the committee was forced to adjourn in the morning despite what was scheduled to be an all-day meeting on Chinese immigration.

"This is a bill by the Chinese for the Chinese!" shouted Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Chien-huei (黃劍輝).

Sponsored by 50 pan-blue lawmakers, an amendment to Article 70 of the statute drafted by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) seeks to reduce the processing time for Chinese immigrants' application for residency status from the current eight years to four years.

Lee's bill would fast-track Chinese immigrants' residency applications over other immigrants, whose application for residency can require up to eight years, critics said.

KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) introduced a related bill seeking to scrap a statute clause requiring Chinese immigrants to wait a decade after acquiring permanent residency here before becoming eligible for work in the government.

Sponsored by 34 pan-blue lawmakers, the proposed amendment would pave the way for Chinese immigrants to become civil servants immediately after obtaining permanent residency.

If passed, pan-green lawmakers said, the bills would allow Chinese to be employed by the government within just five years of arriving.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) pleaded with KMT lawmakers at the meeting to withdraw the bills, saying they could lead to a strain on social services if they became law by encouraging more Chinese to immigrate here.

There are now 290,000 Chinese spouses in the country.

The National Security Bureau (NSB) has other concerns about the proposals. Senior bureau officials worry that the bills could lead to an influx of Chinese spies eager to gain employment in a wide array of government agencies, an anonymous official was quoted as saying in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) yesterday.

In April, the US weekly Defense News quoted former vice minister of defense Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) as saying that more than 5,000 spies are now in Taiwan.

NSB Deputy Secretary-General Wang Hsi-tien (王西田) later said that figure, based on cumulative calculations over several years, are actually "escaped illegal immigrants" who lead a clandestine existence and pose a security risk to the nation.   

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