A draft amendment to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Veterans Assistance Act, which is aimed at preventing Taiwanese retired military personnel from spying for foreign nations, passed its first reading in the Legislature on Thursday.
According to the amendment to Article 32 of the law, retired Taiwanese military personnel caught trying to breach national security, leak classified information or spy for other nations will permanently lose their subsidies, discounts for medical services, and preferential treatment in the areas of employment and education.
The amendment, which cleared the legislative Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, is aimed primarily at preventing retired military officers from being lured into spying for China or providing confidential information to Beijing.
Currently, Article 32 of the ROC Veterans Assistance Act stipulates that only retired military personnel sentenced for rebellion, treason, corruption, or homicide, shall be permanently deprived of all the privileges and benefits covered by the act.
The draft amendment bill extends those specific penalties to cover violations under the National Security Act, the Classified National Security Information Protection Act, and the National Intelligence Services Act.
The new bill is being processed in the wake of new regulations pertaining to active-duty military personnel, which were passed by the Legislature in November.
The amendment to the Act of Military Service for Officers and Noncommissioned Officers of the Armed Forces allows for the military officers — non-commissioned and commissioned — to be deprived of their pensions not only for rebellion and treason but also for spying, breaching national security and leaking classified information.
The efforts to deter military personnel and retired officers from leaking confidential military secrets or spying for China were launched amid concerns that retired Taiwanese generals might be lured by Chinese authorities to work as spies.
During the hearing in the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Thursday, Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), deputy head of the Veterans Affairs Council (VAC), said a delegation of eight retired generals, led by Cheng Ting-chung (陳廷寵), will visit China on Jan. 5 to attend a cultural festival for generals on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The eight retired generals have promised the Cabinet-level VAC that they will not make any controversial political statements during their visit to China, Lee said.
He said it was his understanding that the festival was being organized by a private enterprise, which is believed to have connections with Chinese authorities who handle Taiwan affairs.
In addition to revoking the benefits and privileges of active-duty and retired military personnel who violate the law, some lawmakers are also seeking to extend the period during which retired generals are not allowed to visit China, to more than three years after retirement.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel