Taiwan bars former top officials from Chinese political events

Officials from defense and foreign affairs ministries are going to be affected by the new law. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 July 2019

Taiwan bars former top officials from Chinese political events

  • The new law prohibits some officials from attending events hosted by or affiliated with the Chinese government
  • Violators may lose their monthly pensions or even pay a fine up to $320,000

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s parliament has voted to tighten a law governing links with China, effectively barring many of its former top ministers and retired generals from attending Chinese government ceremonies.
Ties between China and Taiwan are frosty, with the mainland cutting off communications with the island’s government after the election of Beijing-skeptic President Tsai Ing-wen three years ago.
“We should sternly forbid any actions (from our retired military generals) such as saluting the Chinese flag, singing the Chinese anthem or any actions which could damage Taiwan’s national interest and dignity,” the island’s premier Su Tseng-chang said in a statement on social media.
The amended law — passed on Wednesday — prohibits former generals, the heads and their deputies of certain ministries like defense and foreign affairs from attending events hosted by or affiliated with the Chinese government.
Violators risk losing their monthly pension or a maximum fine of $320,000.
Taiwan has been a self-ruled, de facto nation in charge of its own affairs and borders for the last 70 years.
But China maintains that it is a part of its territory to be retaken — by force if necessary.
Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party refuses to acknowledge that the island is part of “One China,” unlike the opposition Koumintang party which favors warmer ties with Beijing.
Taiwan goes to the polls in January, and the contest is likely to be dominated by relations with China. Critics and analysts say Beijing has stepped up its efforts to spread pro-China messages in Taiwanese media and also through opaque online sources in a bid to influence the outcome.
Previously, former top officials who have access to classified information were banned from visiting China for three years after leaving office. The amended law extends the travel ban to six years.
Alexander Huang, who teaches international relations at Tamkang University in Taiwan and was once deputy minister at Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said he felt “humiliated” by the law, adding that the restrictions would deter academics from taking up government jobs.
“To a certain degree,” he said,“it shows the Taiwan current government’s lack of trust of its own elite.”


Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

Updated 24 min 44 sec ago

Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

  • Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes
HONG KONG: Hong Kong residents endured a fourth day of traffic snarls and mass transit disruptions Thursday as protesters closed some main roads and rail networks while police skirmished with militant students at major universities.

Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. None of the officers were injured, and six arrows were seized at the scene, police said.

Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes.

The government appealed for employers to show flexibility. “For staff who cannot report for duty on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances,” a statement said.

The Education Bureau extended the suspension of classes for kindergarten to high school students until Monday. It ordered schools to remain open, though, to handle children whose parents need to send them to school.

At Polytechnic University, protesters shot an arrow at officers patrolling nearby, then threw flower pots from a height when other officers arrived. Police responded with tear gas, and protesters fired more arrows.

Protesters have hurled gasoline bombs and thrown objects off bridges onto roads below during clashes at campuses this week. The Chinese University of Hong Kong suspended classes for the rest of the year, and others asked students to switch to online learning.

Students at Chinese University, site of some of the fiercest clashes where students hurled more than 400 firebombs at police on Tuesday, have barricaded themselves in the suburban campus.

Early Thursday they used chainsaws to drop trees onto streets around the campus and prepared for a possible confrontation with police, which were not intervening.

Anti-government protests have riven Hong Kong, and divided its people, for more than five months.

A major rail line connecting Kowloon to mainland China was closed for a second day and five major underground stations were shut along with seven light rail routes, the Transport Department announced.

“Road-based transport services have been seriously affected this morning due to continued road blockages and damage to road facilities. In view of safety concerns and uncertain road conditions, buses can only provide limited services,” the department said.
Traffic was also disrupted because protesters have destroyed at least 240 traffic lights around the city.

The movement began in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill. Activists saw it as another sign of an erosion in Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.