‘CHILLING EFFECT’:China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the DPP administration was ‘oppressing’ Taiwanese attending cross-straits events in an effort to cool relations
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang addresses a routine news conference in Beijing yesterday.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday proposed an amendment that would cancel pensions for retired civil servants and military personnel who participate in political activities in China, as more details emerged about former military officers attending an event in Beijing last week that featured a policy address by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
The amendment would revoke pensions for retired military officers engaging in political activities in China, as their behavior could imperil national security and seriously erode the morale and loyalty of active-service personnel, DPP legislators Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) and Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said at a news conference.
Seven retired generals, 12 former lieutenant generals and 18 retired major generals attended the event in Beijing commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Republic of China founder Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), Chen said, citing information provided by the National Security Bureau.
The updated figure was greater than the list of 32 retired officers provided two days ago, which included retired lieutenant general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), and former generals Wang Wen-hsieh (王文燮) and Hsia Ying-chou (夏瀛洲), he added.
“These retired high-ranking officers have violated provisions of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) against engaging in political activities in China,” Chen said.
“We have asked the Ministry of National Defense and the Mainland Affairs Council to investigate whether these retired officers have participated in similar events and whether the Chinese government provided them with subsidies, which could include travel expenses, meals and accommodation,” he added.
A recently released video of the event — at which Xi delivered a speech warning against Taiwanese “separatism” — shows the retired officers standing at attention and singing the Chinese national anthem along with Chinese political and military elites, Chuang said.
“We must deal with this matter now by cutting off their pensions,” Chuang said. “The image of these retired generals singing the Chinese national anthem are painful to all Taiwanese and is demoralizing to troops who are protecting the nation.”
The act prohibits individuals, organizations and registered foundations from engaging in any cooperative or political activity organized by Chinese officials, organizations or military personnel, Chuang said.
“The law currently only allows for a fine as punishment, so we will work toward amending regulations to cancel retirement pay for violators,” he added.
When asked to comment at a routine news conference in Beijing yesterday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said some DPP members are stalwart supporters of Taiwanese independence and have sought to incite hostility and confrontation across the Taiwan Strait through political means.
“The DPP administration’s oppression of Taiwanese attending cross-strait events is clearly designed to have a chilling effect on cross-strait relations,” Ma said.
DPP spokesman David Huang (黃適卓) later issued a statement rejecting Ma’s criticism, saying: “The conduct of retired military officers, who gave no consideration to their special status and took part in a Chinese Communist Party event promoting unification, is unacceptable to the public, especially as they stood at attention during the playing of the Chinese national anthem.”
“How is [public disgust with their conduct] a chilling effect?” Huang asked.
It is imperative that soldiers, including retired military personnel, remain loyal to the nation and protect national security,” he added.