Taiwan is on the frontline of China’s sharp power, none more so than in the run up to this weekend’s presidential elections.
In order to guard against infiltration from China and to protect Taiwan’s democratic way of life, the Taiwan parliament passed the anti-infiltration act on 31 December 2019.
This was with one eye on the upcoming Taiwanese elections on Saturday January 11th.
The Anti-Infiltration Act underscores the commitment of the government to safeguard Taiwan’s national security and democracy.
It prohibits infiltration into Taiwan by individuals, institutions or organizations affiliated with or sponsored by a government, political party or other political group of a foreign hostile force.
The Act defines a hostile foreign force as a country or political entity at war or engaging in a military standoff with Taiwan, including but not limited to China.
Taiwan President Tsai, in her New Year’s Day address, said the act will not infringe upon the human rights of people in Taiwan. Instead, it will protect Taiwan’s freedom and democracy.
The government is opposed to infiltration, not to cross-strait exchanges.
The legislation will not affect business, education, religious and tourism exchanges.
In a statement, the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council backed the legislation and said it would help maintain orderly, stable and transparent cross-strait exchanges.
According to the MAC, China’s infiltration campaign is posing a serious threat to Taiwan’s national security, democracy and social order.
The act was drafted on the basis of extensive discussions between the executive and legislative branches, as well as public opinion, the MAC said. Core values of freedom and democracy are at the heart of the legislation, and it will in no way target any specific group or impact regular cross-strait exchanges, the MAC added.
China’s undisguised belligerence toward Taiwan — in words and actions — has given Ms. Tsai’s campaign a new vigour. So have the protests in Hong Kong over China’s steady encroachment on that territory’s autonomy.
With China-US relations deteriorating, observers are closely watching for the result and how Beijing might react.
Tsai, the island’s first female leader, is riding high in the polls and has portrayed herself as a defender of Taiwan’s liberal democracy against the increasingly authoritarian shadow cast by Beijing under President Xi Jinping.
Her main competitor Han Kuo-yu favours much warmer ties with China, saying it will boost the island’s fortunes.
Han’s campaign has stumbled, with many Taiwanese voters rattled by China’s hardline response to protests in neighbouring Hong Kong and the mass internments of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.