An attorney on Sunday spoke out in support of two bills aimed at limiting the influence of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) proxies, as the Mainland Affairs Council said that the bills are still subject to public feedback.
Democratic Progressive Party and New Power Party lawmakers last year pushed for the passage of a draft “hostile foreign influence transparency act” and an amendment to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) to target individuals or groups acting under the direction of “infiltration sources.”
Under the draft foreign influence act, any individual or organization that is under the influence of a hostile foreign power or has otherwise made an agreement with a hostile foreign power would be required to register with the Ministry of Justice.
In addition to voluntary applicants, the ministry would also order agents to register if they are found to fit the criteria and intentionally attempt to influence elections, referendums, political party operations or other affairs.
Those who fail to do so would face a fine of NT$100,000 to NT$500,000 (US$3,507 to US$17,533), which could be issued consecutively.
The amendment would revise Article 31-1 of the cross-strait relations act to prohibit individuals and organizations from engaging in any employment, appointment, contract or service relationship with any Chinese political or military organization, as well as any relationship in which they are subject to commands, requests, instruction or other forms of control, or receive compensation under a mutual agreement.
It would also restrict individuals and organizations from engaging in activities on behalf of a Chinese political or military organization, or its proxies.
Such activities would include political activities or propaganda, conferences organized by or in collaboration with proxies, and statements that threaten national security.
Contraventions would be punishable by a prison sentence of no more than five years and a fine of up to NT$1 million.
“The US and Australia have both have passed laws; Taiwan has no reason not to pass one too,” said attorney Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎), who also serves as director of the Taiwan Forever Association, a non-governmental organization comprised of legal professionals promoting the sustainable development of Taiwan’s democracy.
The Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法) passed in January criminalizes acceptance of CCP aid in elections, referendums and related activities, but it does not cover “united front” funding that flows into the media, local temples, academic groups and other organizations, he said.
Therefore, it is crucial to pass the hostile foreign influence law and amend the cross-strait relations act, he said.
In response to criticism that the registration requirement would “legalize” CCP proxies, Huang said that the changes would help expose them.
The transparency law employs the same logic as the Money Laundering Control Act (洗錢防制法), he said, adding that if someone accepts CCP funds, it is still illegal.
“It does not mean it is legalized on the spot,” and similarly, a CCP proxy would not be pardoned once they are registered, Huang said.
The council said that the government last year passed amendments to five national security laws to strengthen the nation’s defenses against hostile infiltration.
It added that it would continue to revise related laws and regulations as needed.
As for debate over the “Chinese proxy” bills, the council said that it is paying close attention to the matter.
As the bills move through the legislature, public opinion would be considered and a public consensus reached before discussions continue, it added.
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