The National Immigration Agency (NIA) has been lax about reviewing applications by Chinese officials working for the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party seeking entry permits to visit Taiwan, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said yesterday.
Since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in May 2008, the number of recorded visits by UFWD officials has exceeded 4,000.
The agency has granted entry permits to Chinese officials without following the proper criteria, opening the door for the officials tasked to carry out “united front” activities and gather information, Chen said.
There have been cases in which UFWD officials who were denied an entry permit because they applied to visit for business reasons were later granted permission after the stated purpose of their visit was changed to “engage in exchange activities with local professionals,” Chen said.
The DPP lawmaker cited visits by Hu Chengyiu (胡誠友), of the UFWD chapter in Chaohu, Anhui Province; Su Yongjian (蘇勇建), from Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province; and Zhan Shaoying (詹少瑩), from Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, as examples of eased requirements.
In some cases, the agency granted an entry permit to UFWD officials when they filed a re-applications even if there was no change in the purposes of their visits, Chen added.
According to the Mainland Affairs Council’s rules on visits by Chinese officials, the National Immigration Agency should reject entry permits for UFWD officials if they are also Chinese government officials, but do not reveal their identity.
The government has beefed up inspection measures to enforce rules barring Chinese visitors from engaging in activities inconsistent with the allowed purposes of visits, the council said in response to Chen’s claims.
Chen criticized the council and the immigration agency for failing to scrutinize applications for an entry permit from UFWD officials.
“UFWD officials specialize in united front activities. They were allowed into Taiwan for the purpose of engaging in professional exchanges. Who were the local professionals engaging with them? Could it be national security personnel?” he said.
In related news, the immigration agency recently declined to provide a lawmaker with information on a group of Chinese officials who allegedly checked out of a hotel in Kenting (墾丁), Hengchen Township (恆春), Pingtung County, in May without paying their bills totaling NT$60,000.
The group reportedly refused to pay because of cockroaches in their rooms.
It reportedly wired payment to the hotel later, but only after the hotel told them that it would report them to the police.
A lawmaker who wanted to inquire about the background of some of the group was told by the immigration agency that could not provide the information because of restrictions under the Freedom of Government Information Act (政府資訊公開法).