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MAC stresses need to tighten China visit rules by ex-officials

2019/02/15 19:58:11

Chen Ming-tong (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Feb. 15 (CNA) Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) head Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) defended a controversial proposal to limit visits by retired high-ranking Taiwanese military and political figures to China, saying it was necessary to restrict their behavior.

"As Beijing has never renounced the use of force against Taiwan, the participation of some retired Taiwanese generals in mainland China's national celebrations has triggered resentment among the public," Chen told reporters before a session of the Legislative Yuan, which reopened earlier Friday for its spring session.

The MAC has proposed that the government prioritize a bill seeking to prohibit high-ranking military retirees and former political officials from participating in political activities in China within 15 years after they have retired.

Offenders could be deprived of their monthly pensions or fined up to NT$5 million (US$162,138).

The current Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area prohibits "such people" from visiting China for a three-year period after retiring.

The MAC's push to get the proposed amendment passed early in the new legislative session triggered speculation that it was targeted at former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was planning to visit China in late May.

Chen said at a legislative hearing, however, that there have been misunderstandings about the intent of the proposed bill.

Restrictions on visits based on individuals' former positions are already in place and last for three years, he said, but the new proposal mainly focuses on "restricting behavior."

"It's mainly targeted at retired generals who go to attend celebrations in mainland China that are demonstrations of sovereignty," he said.

Later Friday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also dismissed speculation that the planned amendment was targeting Ma or opposition Kuomintang Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義).

"It is totally a misunderstanding," he said, echoing Chen.

(By Liu Kuan-ting, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Flor Wang)