Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

MAC mulls more China ID restrictions

RESIDENCY ISSUES:Minister Chen Ming-tong said cardholders’ household registration in Taiwan is not to be changed, unless Beijing starts treating them like Chinese citizens

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong answers questions at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Affairs Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

The government is considering barring Taiwanese holders of China’s residency card from standing in elections, holding public office or joining the police or army, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, citing national security concerns.

“The government understands that people might apply for the residency cards for economic and practical reasons and it will adopt a gentle approach toward them. However, it is necessary to be highly cautious of the political intention behind the cards,” Chen told a meeting of the Internal Administration Committee.

The council is collaborating with other government departments to plan regulations regarding the cards, he said, adding that they are in the process of seeking public consensus on the matter.

The Chinese State Council Information Office on Aug. 16 announced that from Sept. 1, Taiwanese, Hong Kongers and Macanese who have lived in China for more than six months and are legally working, living or studying in the country would be eligible to apply for a residency card. Cardholders would be granted certain rights and benefits enjoyed by Chinese citizens, such as compulsory education, social insurance and housing subsidies.

The MAC last month said it would require cardholders to report to authorities, adding that those who failed to do so would be fined.

It also said cardholders might be barred from working in intelligence services.

At a question-and-answer session at yesterday’s meeting, Chen said China has reported that 200,000 Taiwanese have applied for the card, but that number needs to be updated, as those who have lived in China for less than six months are now eligible for it.

Chen said that at least 100,000 Taiwanese would apply, while more than 400,000 Taiwanese live in China.

Chen said that the MAC has no plans to cancel cardholders’ household registration in Taiwan, but that could change depending on whether Beijing grants additional rights to cardholders, making them more like Chinese citizens.

“For example, if cardholders are given Chinese passports, then of course we would have to cancel their household registration,” he said.

According to the planned regulations, cardholders would be required to report to authorities within a certain period, and those who reported late would be fined between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000, he said.

Those found to have unreported residency in China would be fined between NT$20,000 and NT$100,000, Chen said.

Asked how the government would uncover non-reporters, Chen said: “The process might not uncover 100 percent of cases, but we will do our best.”

Requiring residents to report would enable the government to provide more effective assistance to them in emergency situations such as earthquakes, he said.

The new regulations could also bar cardholders from standing in elections, holding public office, joining the police or the military, he said.

“Currently, immigrants from China cannot join the military until they have had household registration in Taiwan for 20 years, and they cannot hold public office until having it for 10 years,” Chen said. “The new regulations would be based on a similar idea: Cardholders would not be able to do those things until they have given up their residency for a certain period of time.”

Asked whether the council would consider introducing tax penalties, or canceling or reducing National Health Insurance coverage for people holding the Chinese card, Chen said it was “yet to deal with that area, because there needs to be more dialogue to ensure that people consider such measures acceptable.”

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