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China's new residence permit poses a risk to personal privacy: MAC

2018/08/16 20:08:04

Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正/CNA file photo)

Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Thursday that Taiwanese working or studying in China should be cautious about the risks associated with the new residence permit Beijing is planning to issue to residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan starting Sep. 1.

Speaking at a press conference in Taipei, MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said the residence card is part of a ploy by China to bring Taiwan into its political fold, similar to the economic measures launched earlier this year to attract Taiwanese businesses.

He said Taiwan citizens in China should be aware that the residence permit could pose a risk to personal privacy, particularly in light of Beijing's current efforts to install a vast network of video surveillance and facial recognition technologies as means of social control.

The MAC will seek to find out more about the difference between the new residence permit and the temporary residence card that is currently issued to Taiwanese nationals working and living in China, Chiu said.

His comments followed an announcement earlier in the day by China's State Council that it would begin issuing residence permits for residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan with effect from Sept. 1, in bid to allow them better access to public services.

The permits will be readable at electronic terminals at railway stations, airports, banks and other places, and will make life easier for holders who are studying and working on the mainland, the information office of the state council said at a press conference.

Long Mingbiao (龍明彪), deputy director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said at the press conference that the residence permit will carry an 18-digit code, same as a Chinese identification card, and will give holders the same access to public services on a day-to-day basis as an ID card.

Residents from Taiwan wishing to apply for the residence permit are not required to have household registration in China, Long said.

According to the information given at the press conference, the requirements are that the applicant must have resided in mainland China for more than six months, and must have a stable job and a place of residence.

On the question of whether the residence permit would serve the same functions as the Taiwan Compatriot Permit, Long said the latter is a travel document, while the new permit is not, and therefore cannot be used to enter China.

Chao Chun-shan (趙春山), a professor of China Studies at Tamkang University who spoke to reporters after China's announcement, said that in many ways the residence permit will allow Taiwanese residents access to the same public services as Chinese citizens.

No doubt, the move is aimed at creating a favorable impression of China among Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao residents there, he said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文) said that while the new measure might be attractive and important to Taiwanese already living in China, there are issues of greater concern to the average Taiwan citizen thinking of working or starting a business there.

China's latest announcement followed its launch in February of 31 incentives aimed at Taiwanese nationals and businesses in sectors ranging from agriculture to movie production, which were interpreted largely in Taiwan as a political tactic to gain support among Taiwanese.

(By Chai Sze-chia, Miao Zong-han and Ko Lin)