Cabinet plans travel ban on retired military officers

03/02/2017 10:19 PM

Taipei, March 2 (CNA) The Cabinet plans to amend the existing law governing cross-Taiwan Strait ties to ban political appointees and senior military officers from traveling to China for a minimum of three years after retiring, a spokesman said on Thursday.

The decision to revise the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area was made at a meeting between Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, according to spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇).

The proposed ban would apply to political appointees; military officers at the rank of lieutenant-general and higher in the Army and Air Force, and vice admiral and higher in the Navy; officials involved in highly confidential work and intelligence officers, Hsu said.

The travel restrictions would remain in place for a minimum of three years and could be extended based on the nature of work undertaken, he added.

Individuals who formerly worked with highly confidential information would be required to report to the agencies they worked for if they plan to travel to China even after the restricted period, Hsu said.

While in China, the retired officials would not be allowed to take part in activities attended by China's top leaders or behave in a way that adversely impacts the dignity of Taiwan, including bowing to China's national flag and singing China's national anthem, according to Hsu.

Political appointees and senior military officers violating the rule could have their pensions slashed by 30 percent to 100 percent, while those who receive a one-time retirement payment could be fined between NT$500,000 and NT$3 million, he said.

Offenders in other categories would have to return 10 percent to 100 percent of their pensions or pay a fine of between NT$200,000 and NT$2 million, he added.

Calls for the government to amend the law were made after dozens of retired Taiwanese generals attended a gathering organized by the Chinese government in Beijing on Nov. 11 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Republic of China founding father Dr. Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙).

The ex-generals were reported to have stood up for the playing of the national anthem of the People's Republic of China. They then listened to a speech by Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping (習近平).

Commenting on the issue, retired Navy Vice Admiral Lan Ning-li (蘭寧利) on Thursday likened the government's planned travel ban to McCarthyism in the United States during the 1950s.

While it is reasonable to require retired senior military officers to report their plans to attend forums and seminars in China, it would go too far if they are required to also report their private travel plans, he suggested.

Wu Sze-huai (吳斯懷), a retired Army lieutenant general who attended the Nov. 11 gathering in Beijing, said he will abide by whatever is stipulated in the law, but expressed his opposition to targeting retired generals.

He also questioned why the government only restricts retired military officers and political appointees from traveling to China and not other countries.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Y.F. Low) ENDITEM/AW/

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