Taiwan must consider Chinese residency status a form of Chinese citizenship or risk becoming a local government subordinate to Beijing, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said on Sunday.
Beijing on Sept. 1 began implementing a regulation that makes some Taiwanese eligible for Chinese residency cards, which would incorporate cardholders into the same identification system used for Chinese citizens.
Asked about the policy, Kuan, who is head of a DPP policy group on the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee, said that lawmakers and officials have been informally discussing denaturalization of those who register for the cards.
Taiwan’s passivity could be seen as consenting to Chinese rule, should Beijing make the additional legal claim that it authorizes local governments and special administrative regions to regulate residency status, she said.
Proposals under discussion include canceling the National Health Insurance subscription of cardholders or other types of warnings before denaturalization, Kuan said, adding that some see immediate denaturalization as overly draconian.
While Beijing is targeting Taiwanese students with the residency cards, Kuan said sources have told her that the Chinese government aims to have 80 percent of Taiwanese businesspeople in China registered as residents before the end of this year.
“If we do nothing, the worst-case scenario is that 600,000 Taiwanese would obtain residency status in China,” Kuan said.
Strict regulation is necessary to protect Taiwanese entrepreneurs and to avoid showing weakness to Beijing that would invite further encroachment, she said.
The committee was to deliberate the issue in a meeting last week that was canceled and has not been rescheduled, she added.
“Lawmakers believe it would be wise to talk about this issue after the Executive Yuan has determined what to do,” Kuan said.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her administration have been strategizing a response and that the issue is “no less important than pension reform.”
Although DPP lawmakers have exchanged their views with Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), cross-strait relations is the prerogative of the president and Premier William Lai (賴清德), he said.
“The Cabinet needs to discuss the issue internally before coming up with a coherent response, but we do hope this will happen soon,” Ker said, adding that Lai’s next legislative report is scheduled for Friday and that the party would have to make its position known.
Legally, taking action against Taiwanese who obtain Chinese resident status would fall under the Criminal Code, the National Security Act (國家安全法), the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), an anonymous official said.
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