National security officials have recommended criminalizing the display of the five-star People’s Republic of China (PRC) flag under social order law, as legislators deliberate an amendment that would consider the act a national security offense.
A bill proposed by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) and supported by 29 other lawmakers would amend the National Security Act (國家安全法) to ban actions that damage national identity or work in favor of a hostile foreign power.
Those found guilty could be fined NT$10,000 to NT$100,000, and related articles would be confiscated.
Photo: Wu Chun-feng, Taipei Times
It would also include fines of up to NT$50,000 for “raising, lowering, hanging, displaying, holding or brandishing” any political or military flag of a hostile foreign power in public places.
However, the rules would not apply to events that have been given approval to fly such flags by a competent authority or when they are flown to accord with international convention.
The PRC flag problem has existed for a long time, but amending national security law is not the appropriate way to impose criminal liability for contraventions of “national identity,” security officials said.
They instead recommended changing the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法) to legislate against such acts, with fines of NT$10,000 to NT$50,000.
The National Security Act covers serious felonies, an official said, adding that it is not suitable for criminalizing the display of a flag.
If law enforcement officials have trouble determining whether something is in contravention of national security law, they could be criticized for running a police state, they said.
On the other hand, if the issue continues to be ignored, it would allow China to keep using the nation’s democratic principles for its own “united front” work, they added.
After reviewing the proposal, the official recommended applying a minor punishment.
The issue is ultimately one of social order, as seeing the PRC flag causes discomfort to many Taiwanese and could lead to violent conflict, the official said.
The National Security Council has reportedly already suggested that the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法) be amended to criminalize the sharing of political propaganda or misinformation under the instruction or assistance of a foreign power.
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