The legality of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) scheduled meeting with Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing on May 4 has been called into question, as his status as New Taipei City mayor means such a visit is subject to certain legal restrictions.
According to the National Immigration Agency, the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) stipulates that if the mayor of a municipality plans to visit China, the visit must be applied for in advance.
Under the Regulations Governing Public Servants and Special Status Personnel from the Taiwan Area Entering the Mainland Area (臺灣地區公務員及特定身分人員進入大陸地區許可辦法), the mayor of a municipality is only allowed to enter China when the visit is related to their official duties, or is a visit to a relative.
The agency is set to make a final decision on Wednesday over whether it is legitimate for Chu to conduct “cross-strait exchanges” in China, given that he is both the KMT chairman and New Taipei City mayor.
“The so-called Chu-Xi meeting is supposed to fall under Article 33-1 of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, which governs visits made by organizations to China,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said.
However, Lee said that based on his understanding, Chu applied for the scheduled meeting in his capacity as New Taipei City mayor, which means the visit would fall under Article 6 of the Regulations Governing Public Servants and Special Status Personnel from the Taiwan Area Entering the Mainland Area.
Article 6 of the regulations stipulates that city mayors or county commissioners may only be allowed to visit China if any of the following four conditions apply: They have a spouse or a relative within four degrees of kinship who has household registration in China; their spouse or relative within four degrees of kinship contracted a disease or passed away in China less than a year before the visit, or they are in a critical condition that makes a personal visit necessary; their visit is to conduct exchange events or meetings related to their official duties; they are chosen by or receive consent from their supervising agency to attend a specific event or meeting.
“Since none of the four conditions apply to the pending Chu-Xi meeting, the visit should naturally be denied, unless Chu is to carry out city-to-city exchanges during the visit,” Lee said.
According to sources familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity, the application for Chu’s visit has been filed by the New Taipei City Government as a “confidential document” with the Ministry of the Interior and there is no mention of the scheduled meeting between Chu annd Xi in Chu’s itinerary or the reasons given for the visit.
Relevant government officials have also been tight-lipped in what capacity Chu would visit China, the sources said.
The sources said that municipality mayors, city mayors and county commissioners usually cited job-related reasons, such as marketing for agricultural products, tourism or city-to-city exchanges, and they all made their visits in their capacity as mayor or commissioner.
In response, KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) downplayed the matter by saying that the application for the visit has been filed and examined in accordance with the law.