Lawmakers yesterday stiffened penalties for people who leak state secrets and approved amendments to ensure that Chinese spies face the same punishment as Republic of China (ROC) citizens who commit “offenses against the external security of the state.”
The Constitution defines China as a territory of the ROC and the Criminal Code stipulates penalties for ROC citizens who collude with “foreign nations or personnel they dispatched,” so the same penalties could not be applied to Chinese spies, said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), who sponsored the amendments to the code.
As a result, spies from China are only handed light sentences under special laws, Wang added.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
In the largest case involving a Chinese spy, People’s Liberation Army intelligence officer Zhen Xiaojiang (鎮小江) came to Taiwan and persuaded more than 10 military officers to collude with him, but was only sentenced to four years in prison, Wang said.
To close the loophole, Wang sponsored an addendum that would extend penalties for “offenses against external security” to Chinese nationals and residents of Hong Kong and Macau.
The amendment allows Chinese who seek to get the ROC to give over its territory to China, Hong Kong, Macau or other hostile foreign forces to be given a death sentence or life imprisonment.
It allows Chinese who obtain data on Taiwan’s military strengths and weaknesses while the nations are at war to be given a prison term of seven years to life.
The amendment allows Chinese who take classified data — documents, drawings, intelligence or physical items — from Taiwan’s armed forces to be given a prison term of seven years to life.
Another amendment to the Criminal Code allows people breaching procedures when signing an agreement with China or other nations on matters requiring government approval to be given a maximum of five years in prison, a fine of up to NT$500,000 (US$16,175) or both, while people who sign an unauthorized deal with China or other nations that harms Taiwan’s interests could face a jail term of seven years to life.
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) stipulates that people who strike unauthorized agreements with China can be fined NT$200,000 to NT$2 million, which is an insignificant “paper tiger” for people willing to sell out the nation for personal gain, Wang said.
The new amendments would apply to those people, he said.
Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) extended prison terms for people who leak state secrets to China, Hong Kong, Macau or other hostile foreign forces to three to 10 years, from one to seven years.
The amendment sets a maximum prison term of two years for those who conspire to leak secrets to other countries or hostile forces, while those found to have leaked top secret data would receive 1.5 times the recommended penalties.
Another amendment to the act allows agencies handling confidential information to add three years to the current three-year travel restriction on former personnel entrusted with state secrets — the period can be extended, but not shortened.
The amendment includes a proviso: It may not be applied to situations described in Article 12-1, which stipulates that people who know state secrets about intelligence sources or channels affecting national security should remain permanently restricted.
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said the amendment was not meant to obstruct anyone from visiting a foreign nation, but to bolster national security.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) called it a “reproachable” piece of legislation aimed at barring former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) from visiting China after his restriction period ends, which would be on May 20.
Ma in January said during an interview that he hopes to visit China after May 20.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
IN PROTEST: The US’ top diplomat said the WHA had been deprived of Taiwan’s scientific expertise, while Tsai said political factors should not be put above health US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday condemned Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly (WHA), while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday lodged a strong protest against the WHO for not inviting Taiwan. Twenty-two nations voiced support for Taiwan’s bid for participation on the first day of the assembly’s two-day virtual meeting, but despite the global community’s unprecedentedly strong support for Taiwan, it remained blocked from the assembly, with WHO member states on Monday agreeing to delay discussion on Taiwan until later this year. Pompeo, who on May 6 urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the WHA,
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced no new cases of COVID-19, adding that a ban on mask exports would be lifted soon under three conditions. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 401 people from among the nation’s 440 confirmed cases have been removed from isolation. Yesterday was the 12th consecutive day that no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Taiwan, and the 37th day of no new domestic cases. “As our local communities have gradually become safe, we should not become careless,” Chen said. “We should continue to take personal protective measures