Taiwan Legislature moves to limit activities of former officers in China

The amendment will prohibit Taiwan's former high-ranking officials and retired generals from attending political functions in China.

Legislative Yuan

Legislative Yuan (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- An amendment bill to limit the activities of retired high-ranking Taiwanese military officers and other categories of former officials during visits to China cleared the committee stage in the Legislature on Thursday.

The draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area seeks mainly to prohibit Taiwan's former high-ranking officials and retired generals from attending political functions in China.

Under the proposed amendments, former officials who worked in national defense, foreign affairs, intelligence, mainland China affairs or any field involving national security will be prohibited from engaging in any actions in China that may be seen as tarnishing Taiwan's national pride.

Former officials in those categories will also not be allowed to participate in events held by China's political, military or administrative institutions, the draft bill states.

Retired generals and other former high-ranking officials who violate the law would risk a pension cut of at least 10 percent for five years or a fine of between NT$500,000 (US$15,853) and NT$5 million, according to the draft amendments.

They will also be stripped of any medals or other honors they had received, the draft bill states.

Currently, Taiwan allows visits to China by former civil servants and military personnel, one to three years after retirement, with no restrictions on their activities.

During the committee's review of the draft bill, Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) questioned the inclusion of certain actions, such as singing China's national anthem and saluting Chinese government officials, on the list of prohibited activities.

In response, Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council who was at the legislative committee meeting, said the activities of retired generals visiting China must be regulated, in light of China's efforts to wipe out Taiwan's existence.

"How could our senior military officers lead our troops in a fight (against China) if those officers are kowtowing to China," Chen said.

The bill is seen as a government response to the public criticism that followed a visit to China in November 2016 by several retired Taiwan generals, who attended celebrations in Beijing held by Chinese authorities to commemorate the 150th birthday of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), founding father of the Republic of China (ROC).

The retired Taiwanese generals reportedly stood for China's national anthem and stayed to listen to an address by Chinese President China Xi Jinping (習近平), who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China.