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President defends Anti-infiltration Act in New Year's Day speech

ROC Central News Agency

2020/01/01 13:21

Taipei, Jan. 1 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) used her 2020 New Year's Day speech Wednesday to defend her decision to ram through legislation a day earlier that criminalizes political activities backed by China.

In her speech delivered at the Presidential Office, Tsai said the new law will help safeguard the nation's democracy by complementing existing laws that already ban those acts of infiltration as illegal.

"Only actions that are prohibited by law, and carried out under instruction from China, commissioned by China, or funded by China, will constitute infiltration," Tsai said.

Also, courts have the final say on whether a person charged with violating the new law is deemed guilty or not, not the government, the president argued.

"I guarantee that the passage of the anti-infiltration act will not affect freedom or infringe upon human rights. It will not affect normal economic exchanges. It will only more strongly protect Taiwan's democracy and freedom," she said, pledging that Taiwanese people who study or do business in China will not be affected.

Tsai's defense of the controversial measure came amid protests raised by a China-based Taiwanese business group and opposition parties after the bill was pushed through the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-controlled Legislature on Tuesday.

They feared that the bill will be used by the government to arbitrarily suppress those who hold different political views and hinder cross-strait exchanges.

The bill, which was only initiated in late November with little cross-party discussion, lacks a concrete definition of what constitutes an act of infiltration, giving authorities the freedom to decide whether the law has been broken based on their own interpretations, they said.

This poses a threat to the more than 2 million Taiwanese who live in China to work or study when they conduct exchanges with Chinese counterparts, they warned.

Meanwhile, Tsai was asked after her speech whether she has set a timetable for possibly reopening dialogue with China, which has been suspended since she assumed office in May 2016.

The question was in reference to Tsai's contention in Sunday's presidential debate that China will eventually have to reopen communication channels with Taiwan as long as Taiwanese stand together and forge a unified stance over the cross-strait issue.

Tsai answered that she was more than willing to launch constructive dialogue with Beijing as long as it was also willing to do so without setting any preconditions.

Given the rapidly changing international situation, however, it would be "impossible and unwise" for a national leader to set a timetable for that to happen, Tsai said.

When asked to comment on a newly formed Taiwanese news website's decision to withdraw from the Taiwan market in protest of the act's passage, the president said any honorable Taiwanese media outlet will not cooperate with China's inappropriate maneuvering, without elaborating.

The Chinese language news platform "Master Chain" was only formed on Dec. 4 and was reportedly backed by Chinese capital.

In terms of the economy, Tsai pledged in her speech Wednesday to create another "economic miracle" for the country in the next four years should she win re-election on Jan. 11.

She has set a goal to make Taiwan a regional hub for the advanced manufacturing sector, high-tech development, green energy and capital and financial management, as part of her economic plan.

Earlier Wednesday, Tsai attended the New Year's Day flag-raising ceremony outside the Presidential Office.

At around 6:20 a.m., Tsai and Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), accompanied by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), stepped out of the Presidential Office for the ceremony.

As the flag was being hoisted, Tsai sang the national anthem while holding a Republic of China national flag on her left hand.

The singing of the national anthem was led by a group of five exemplary disease control specialists responsible for preventing African swine fever from spreading into Taiwan at the country's borders.

The national anthem singers also featured 15 Taiwanese U-18 baseball players who participated in international events in 2019 for the country as well as 40 Taiwanese student representatives.

Near the venue of the flag-raising ceremony, there were sporadic protests, including one who shouted "Han Kuo-yo (韓國瑜) is a liar," referring to the KMT presidential candidate and Kaohsiung mayor. A number of protesters also called on Tsai to step down. They were later escorted away by security guards and left the venue.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Ku Chuan and Joseph Yeh) Enditem/ls



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