It speaks volumes about what is considered normal in Taiwan that a retired general — Kao An-kuo (高安國) in this case — could call on military officers not only to surrender to China, but also to overthrow the nation’s democratically elected government, and Taiwanese could throw up their hands and say: “We’ve heard this all before.”
Kao regularly posts low-budget YouTube videos in which he is sitting behind a microphone in his military fatigues criticizing the government and spreading disinformation, for example, on alleged deaths after COVID-19 vaccinations and that the government was sacrificing Taiwanese lives by rejecting Beijing’s offers of Chinese vaccines.
Kao’s call on the military to surrender was posted to YouTube on June 7, and it appears to have gone largely under the radar, only drawing comment in the past few weeks, with Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) saying that the retired general’s words amount to treason and contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法).
The criteria for treason — if Taiwan were a normal country — seem to be met by Kao’s statement, even if it is difficult to take seriously a lone man in his fatigues spouting extremist antipathy in a poorly lit makeshift studio.
However, it is far from clear whether prosecution for treason is viable based on current legislation, not least because it refers to China as “the mainland area” and does not consider it a foreign country.
Kao seems to be acting as Beijing’s agent, but the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法) only concerns activity on foreign soil or activity in Taiwan to influence elections on behalf of a foreign government.
Article 107 of the Criminal Code lists “inciting a person in the armed services to neglect his duty, desert, mutiny, or commit a breach of discipline” as a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment, but only under the condition that the nation is at war or war is imminent.
Lawyer Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) has said that articles 153 and 155 of the code would be applicable to Kao’s case. The former concerns inciting another person to commit an offense, for which the accused would be liable to a sentence of “not more than two years, short-term imprisonment or a fine of not more than thirty thousand [New Taiwan] dollars”; the latter concerns somebody “who incites a person in the armed services to fail to execute his duty, commit a breach of discipline, desert, or mutiny,” and carries a jail sentence of six months to five years. These punishments are quite lenient for treason.
Kao seems harmless in his videos with low production values, but he is also involved with other groups, such as the Blue Sky Action Alliance, which enjoys the support of China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP) founder Chang An-le (張安樂), a former gang leader with more influence and a bigger organization behind him than Kao.
During a political forum in Shanghai last month called “Chinese Compatriots Across the Strait: Joining Hands to Realize the Chinese Dream,” Chang also said that he would call on military commanders to surrender on the day China annexes Taiwan by force, although it is legitimate to ask why he thinks they might listen to him.
The alliance, the CUPP and another pro-unification group, the Concentric Patriotism Association, are regularly suspected of being behind public disturbances. The groups’ funding can allegedly be traced back to China.
Cases involving individuals like Kao, with their limited influence and funds, might not seem to be cause for concern, but they highlight the impotence of Taiwan’s anti-treason laws. Organizations such as the CUPP are potentially more problematic. However, the government’s efforts need to focus on investigating those overseas who are funding individual and group efforts at destabilizing the nation.
Over the past few decades, only judges have been the triers of fact and law in Taiwan’s judiciary. Nevertheless, ordinary people are from next year to have the opportunity to be take on that role in criminal cases, a milestone in Taiwan’s history. The Citizen Judges Act (國民法官法) was passed by the Legislative Yuan on July 22, promulgated by the president on Aug. 12 and is to be implemented on Jan. 1 next year. Under the act, lay people are to be randomly selected as citizen judges who would participate in trial proceedings and adjudicate cases alongside professional judges in
Reports that Taiwan’s semiconductor industry could be considering leaving the country amid rising geopolitical tensions, and in light of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC) plans to build factories in the US and Japan, were dismissed last week by Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花). Wang said that Taiwan has an important chip manufacturing cluster, its capabilities are second to none and no other country could displace Taiwan’s dominance in semiconductors. Wang also downplayed concerns that a number of TSMC engineers relocating to the US for the company’s new plant in Phoenix, Arizona, would lead to talent shortages or a loss
As all are aware by now, United States policy toward Taiwan is guided by three canonical texts: the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. But the State Department now seems to be working with a fourth document which goes by the bland name of “state telegram number 87604” of June 26, 2007, regarding “UN references to Taiwan.” Long dormant, “07 State 87604” seems to have been rediscovered at State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom. I doubt it will ever be enshrined with the three holy texts, but it now seems to influence American diplomacy toward
India-Taiwan relations are at their strongest in history. The growing bonhomie between New Delhi and Taipei is a testimony to India’s increasing interests and stakes in Taiwan. Its keenness to engage Taiwan is noticeable. Early last month, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) visited India, achieving several tangible outcomes. He was in India to participate in the annual deputy ministerial dialogue. He also addressed the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s India-Taiwan Industrial Collaboration Summit. His visit was well-received by the Indian government as well as by industry leaders. “India can be the best production place for us.