Retired military personnel who kowtow to China should be punished: Taiwan president

Taiwan bans retired senior officers from participating in Beijing-organized political activities

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(Screen capture from Tsai Ing-wen's Facebook page)

(Screen capture from Tsai Ing-wen's Facebook page)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Friday that retired high-ranking military personnel who grovel to the Chinese authorities should face severe punishment.

The president was referring to dozens of former senior military officers, including five generals and eleven lieutenant generals, who attended a commemorative event hosted by China’s leader Xi Jinping in 2016. A video clip taken by China’s state television network, in which the retired military personnel were listening in awe to the remarks of Xi, upset some lawmakers and the general public in Taiwan at the time.

Taiwan is a free country, and every citizen is allowed to have their own political orientation, but high-ranking military officers who participate in activities that “mar national interests and integrity, or even do harm to Taiwanese people,” should receive the harshest punishment, said Tsai via a Facebook post on Friday.

The Legislative Yuan passed amendments on Wednesday (June 3) to bar retired senior officers, including those with a previous rank of major general or higher, and deputy ministers with prior access to classified government information, from participating in political activities organized by Beijing. Those who violate the law could be stripped of their entire pensions or receive a fine of up to NT$10 million (US$321,000).

The president stressed that she believes most incumbent and retired military officers remain loyal to Taiwan and are willing to contribute to the country throughout their lifetimes.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has taken a series of measures in recent months intended to curb China’s influence and infiltration in Taiwanese society through the introduction or amendment of laws.

Tsai added that the legislature will push ahead with amendments regarding the registration of Chinese agents in Taiwan, along the same vein as the U.S.’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, so as to prevent representatives of the Chinese government from conducting activities in Taiwan that “risk national security.”

The protests against the extradition legislation in Hong Kong have sent a message to Taiwan, Tsai said. “If we do not protect national sovereignty and security on our own, we will bring destruction to our cherished freedom and democracy.”