President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法) would not affect Taiwanese conducting legal exchanges with Chinese, after officially promulgating it earlier in the day.
Addressing the nation from the Presidential Office, Tsai said that the act prohibits only a handful of actions — including making political donations, engaging in electioneering, sabotaging legal assembly, and lobbying and interfering with elections — carried out under the instruction of China, or commissioned or funded by it.
The act would not affect normal cross-strait exchanges, she added.
Amid concerns regarding the new law, the president said that she has asked the Executive Yuan to make clarifications and explain it to the public to avoid causing unnecessary panic.
The Executive Yuan has also been asked to establish an ad hoc task force to provide the public with examples of actions that contravene the act, so that people can have clear guidelines to follow, Tsai said.
The Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official body that deals with cross-strait affairs, has also been tasked with answering questions about the act and collecting public opinions so that the government can make adjustments if necessary, Tsai said.
Despite Tsai’s repeated assurances, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) yesterday said that a lack of contingency plans represented a threat to people’s basic rights.
The act, which comprises 12 articles, does not specify which government agency is responsible for its implementation, Tseng said.
It also does not provide legal remedy for people accused of contravening its provisions, he added.
A lack of contingencies shows that the act had been rushed through the legislature without careful assessment, Tseng said, adding that the KMT would soon request a constitutional interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices as a last resort to overturn the act.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus secretary-general Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said the act had to be passed first before the government could introduce contingency plans.
The KMT, the People First Party and Taiwanese business groups based in China have been vocal in their criticism of the act, which was passed by the DPP-controlled legislature on Dec. 31.
They have said that the act, which was initiated in late November last year with little cross-party discussion, lacks a concrete definition of what constitutes “infiltration,” giving authorities the freedom to interpret it when deciding whether the act has been contravened.
They have expressed concern that the act could be used by the government to arbitrarily suppress those who hold different political views and hinder cross-strait exchanges.
The government has said that the act complements existing laws to prevent hostile forces from intervening in the nation’s democratic political system or influencing national security through “infiltration sources.”
“Infiltration sources” are defined in the act as organizations or institutions affiliated with the government, political parties or other political groups of a foreign hostile force, and individuals dispatched by those entities.
A hostile force is defined as a country or group at war or in a military standoff with Taiwan that upholds the idea of jeopardizing the nation’s sovereignty by non-peaceful means, which clearly refers to China, although Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said it applies to all foreign hostile forces.
The act prohibits anyone from making political donations, influencing elections, proposing the recall of government officials, or launching a public referendum at the instruction or with the financial support of an infiltration source.
It also prohibits lobbying on issues concerning national security, diplomacy and cross-strait affairs, at the instruction or with the financial support of an infiltration source.
Such actions may be punished by up to five years in prison or a fine of NT$10 million (US$333,890), according to the act.
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