Taipei, Jan. 8 (CNA) The controversial Anti-infiltration Act, which criminalizes activities in Taiwan backed by hostile forces such as China, will not impede normal interactions across the Taiwan Strait, the head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Wednesday.
The act, passed by the legislature on Dec. 31, is aimed at "correcting" and normalizing" cross-Taiwan Strait relations and lowering the risk of Beijing interfering in Taiwan politically, MAC chief Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said at a press conference.
It was just the latest effort by the MAC to defend the act, passed just 11 days before Taiwan holds it next presidential and legislative elections.
Critics of the bill, including the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), argued that it was rammed through the Legislature by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) without appropriate scrutiny, and could have unintended consequences.
They have also argued the act could give the government the ability to make unsubstantiated allegations against any Taiwanese individual or company with ties to China.
Taiwan currently has an estimated 2 million people who work or study in China, and the law poses a threat to their normal activities, the critics said.
Under the law, making political donations, influencing elections, proposing the recall of government officials, or launching a public referendum at the instruction or with the financial support of an "infiltration source," such as a Chinese agency, is prohibited.
The law also prohibits lobbying on issues concerning national security, diplomacy and cross-strait affairs at the instruction or with the financial support of hostile forces.
The maximum penalty for such offenses is five years in prison or a fine of less than NT$10 million (US$330,578), according to the act.
Chen argued that the act would not hamper cross-strait interactions, saying that it would in fact allow Taiwanese businessmen to do business in China worry-free because Beijing could not hold them hostage to achieve China's political goals.
As to the claims that the act could lead the government to make unsubstantiated accusations, Chen said Taiwan is a society based on the rule of law and any suspect would go through a strict judicial process with evidence before being convicted.
The banned actions or behaviors listed in the Anti-infiltration Act are not new because they are already prohibited by current laws, Chen said, adding that the act only punishes intentional malicious actions and not offenses through negligence.