Tension with China & Taiwan on the increase?
The Investigation Bureau came under attack on Thursday after Cabinet officials said the bureau’s anti-spy bill authorized it with unconditional surveillance and interrogation powers. Vice Premier Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀) said Thursday that an anti-spy bill proposed by the Ministry of Justice’s Investigative Bureau earlier January was currently under Cabinet review.
The bill is being reviewed along with an amendment to the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, Lin said at a meeting of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Central Standing Committee. Both bills purport to address concerns that Chinese authorities have been penetrated Taiwan’s political and intelligence community.
President Tsai Ing-wei has repeatedly called for the immediate upgrade of Taiwan’s anti-spy system, while pressuring the Ministry of Justice to enact a set of detailed and comprehensive regulations to combat espionage. The bill proposed earlier this year comprises 31 clauses and spans three aspects of coverage for the anti-spy system: government institutions, the military and social communities. In the bill, the military and government institutions were prioritized as key anti-espionage areas, whereas private organizations and businesses were also included in the coverage.
In a much-criticized clause, special investigators charged with combating espionage are authorized to conduct inspections on “any suspicious individuals,” obtain private documents with confidential information and confiscate any relevant object or detain any relevant person during an emergency event.
Kuomintang Legislator Wu Chih-yang (吳志揚) called the clause an act of “Green Terror,” a reference to the four decades of Taiwan martial law known as White Terror. Wu said that anti-spy measures such as wiretapping and raiding homes currently — and rightfully — required a court warrant.
The pan-green ruling party is taking democratic Taiwan a step backward with its proposed espionage act,” he said, decrying the bill as “truly horrifying.” At Thursday’s meeting, Lin said that the proposed amendment to the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area sought to forbid any retired military officer from participating in any celebration or ceremony in mainland China attended by the Chinese president.
Nor would they be allowed to pay respect to any national flag, national emblem or national song representing the People’s Republic of China. The amendment will later be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review.