Taiwan amends treason law to include collusion with China

China's President Xi Jinping smiles as Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman, unseen, arrives for their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Sunday, April 28, 2019. (Madoka Ikegami/Pool Photo via AP)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Legislature (Legislative Yuan) on May 7 passed an amendment to the Criminal Code to expand the scope of treason to include collusion with mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and any overseas enemy force or its agent.

Previously, treason was referred in the law as collusion with an “enemy state,” but that has been amended to better protect Taiwan’s national security interests, lawmakers said.

Furthermore, as China is not deemed a foreign country in the Republic of China Constitution, it cannot be categorized as an “enemy state,” and neither can its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, lawmakers said.

People who spy for or collude with China and the two special administrative regions, therefore, could not be charged with offenses against Taiwan’s internal and external security stipulated in the Criminal Code.

Under the amendment, a provision had been added to the treason article and is now applicable to people committing an act of espionage for China, Hong Kong, Macau, or any overseas enemy force or its agent.

The amended law also allows for a prison sentence of up to five years, detention, and/or a maximum fine of NT$500,000 (US$16,450) if any person, without government authorization, makes an agreement with a foreign government or its agent.

In cases where such an agreement could hurt Taiwan, the prison term is seven years to life, under the new amendment. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), who proposed the amendment, said it is aimed at tightening up against espionage by China.

The Criminal Code’s provisions on treason through collusion had not been revised since 1995 and the relevant anti-treason laws left loopholes in national security and did not carry heavy enough penalties, he said.

By Wang Yang-yu and Evelyn Kao