On May 6, 2009, I wrote an article for the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper), titled “How Hong Kongers view Taiwan’s relaxation of travel restrictions for Chinese nationals.” In the article, I raised concerns over the national security implications of allowing Chinese nationals to travel to Taiwan. I wrote that the set of pro-China policies implemented by then-president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration would risk expediting China’s annexation of Taiwan.
We can now clearly see one undesirable consequence of Ma’s legacy: Mainland Chinese students have been intimidating and attacking pro-democracy Hong Kong students at a number of Taiwanese universities. The government should not only reverse Ma’s policy of allowing Chinese students to study in Taiwan, but also deport any Chinese students found to have been harassing Hong Kong students. It must be clear that any students engaging in such behavior are persona non grata in Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a policy of sending mainland Chinese students to Hong Kong universities. They are either professional spies posing as students or the offspring of well-connected Chinese officials and businesspeople. Both groups constitute a national security threat to Taiwan; they are often sent to Taiwan for further study at the behest of the party.
On many of Taiwan’s campuses, students who have voiced support for Hong Kong’s democracy activists have been attacked. There is no difference between the attacks on Taiwan’s university campuses and the white-shirted flash mobs who attack ordinary members of the public in Hong Kong. Both are forms of terrorism, carried out by covert agents under orders from the Beijing. We should call a spade a spade: They are foreign spies.
Given this state of affairs, to protect both the security of Hong Kong students and the Taiwanese public, and to uphold the democratic freedoms of Taiwan, Chinese students suspected of being spies should be expelled from the country. Unless they can demonstrate a clear record of support for Taiwan or Hong Kong’s democracy movements — either through their participation in events or on social media — the government is under no obligation to allow such students to remain in the country.
To safeguard Taiwan’s national security, Chinese students and Chinese nationals who work for Chinese companies and pose a potential security threat should not be automatically granted the right of abode.
As for Hong Kong students studying in Taiwan, some might also be working as spies for the CCP. Their cases will have to be handled according to what passport they hold and their residency status.
If any Hong Kong students holding British passports were to be identified for deportation, this would not pose a problem: They could be treated as British citizens, most of whom will have been born prior to the handover in 1997.
Those students who possess Hong Kong special administrative region passports, were born in Hong Kong and whose mainland Chinese parents had permanent residency status in Hong Kong at the time of their birth can be handled as Hong Kong residents. However, the offspring of mainland Chinese parents who did not possess permanent residency status at the time of their birth in Hong Kong should be treated as Chinese nationals by the government and their visas should be revoked to prevent the exploitation of loopholes.
At a time when Beijing is displaying considerable ill will toward Taiwan, there is no need for Taipei to continue to carry on extending goodwill toward China. The government should call time on harmful Ma-era policies.
Martin Oei is a Hong Kong-born British political commentator based in Germany.
Translated by Edward Jones
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