Interfering in another country's internal affairs

How exactly can we arrive at a definition of what constitutes “interfering in another country’s internal affairs”?

For those of us who have more or less settled down in Taiwan, we live and work here, and we pay taxes. If we participate in an election rally, this is considered to be interfering in Taiwan’s internal affairs, then the NPA will deport us.

However, in the United States such activities, even by aliens, are protected by the freedom of speech provisions of the US Constitution. In Germany, such activities, even by aliens, are protect by the freedom of speech provisions of the German Basic Law.

Hence, I am considering having a dialogue with the Taiwan officials about this whole topic. (Whether or not such a dialogue will accomplish anything, or is worthwhile, etc. please let me determine for myself.) But I am wondering, where should the line be drawn? What kind of activities by what kinds of people are actually “interfering in Taiwan’s internal affairs?”

I wonder if anyone can offer some suggestions or guidelines in order to have a rational discussion on this topic.

Before anyone wades in, Richard, what do the authorities here consider interfering in the country’s internal affairs to be?
Do they have a list?

OK, this is a good comment. However, the authorities in Taiwan come at it from a different angle somewhat. Their explanation is that certain types of activities “violate one’s purpose of residency.” There is no definitive list of such activities, and if a question arises, each case is DECIDED on its own merits.

Now, furthermore, within those activities that “violate one’s purpose of residency”, there is a smaller group which constitute “interfering in Taiwan’s internal affairs.” Again, there is no definitive list of such activities, and if a question arises, each case will be CONSIDERED on its own merits.

This is the NPA logic. If a foreigner is found to have violated his/her purpose of residency (including but not limited to “interfering in Taiwan’s internal affairs”), then the typical punishment is deportation, whereupon the person is banned from re-entry. Such procedures are completed without a trial or other hearing.

A similar analysis applies to those here on short-term visas or landing visas.

Japan also bans political activity by foreigners, so it appears that Taiwan derives its attitude in this respect from Japan, rather than from more mature democracies like those of Europe and North America. Perhaps Taiwanese people feel that being as democratic as Japan is democratic enough.

Voting Rights for Spouses of Japanese Nationals & Permanent Residents

I guess I am still not making myself clear. There is no specific law in the ROC banning foreigners’ participation in election or campaigning activities.

Taiwan is your typical, slightly xenophobic government that wishes to be able to hoof the foreigner (the

Originally posted by Hartzell: I guess I am still not making myself clear. There is [b]no specific law[/b] in the ROC banning foreigners' participation in election or campaigning activities.

Richard, I think a law was passed back around 1992-93 making it illegal for a foreigner to criticize the ROC’s head of state. I don’t know what the penalties might be…maybe forced to eat cho dofu and drink Chu Yeh Ching “Wine”?

This sounds so serious. If I show up at a political rally and cheer or boo, is that considered interference in internal affairs?
If I hand out leaflets? posters? Work as a “foreign” campaign advisor?

How about participate in a march to change the name of the ROC to Taiwan? Speak out or write articles about independence or unification?

If you start drawing lines, then do alien residents have more civil and political rights than holders of tourist visas?
Check your passport and visa at the police line?

Originally posted by wwwright: If I show up at a political rally and cheer or boo, is that considered interference in internal affairs?
No, you are considered "curious".

quote[quote]If I hand out leaflets? posters?[/quote]
Yes - and those leaflets don’t even need to be political to cause you trouble. You are “working” without the “necessary permit” - easy case…

quote[quote]Work as a “foreign” campaign advisor?[/quote]
How soon did you say you want to leave?

quote[quote]How about participate in a march to change the name of the ROC to Taiwan?[/quote]
Good question. Until a certain degree, you are probably considered “funny”. After that…

quote[quote]Speak out or write articles about independence or unification?[/quote]
Hmm, if you are becoming too “noisy”… Though I wonder if this is also considered “political activity” as long as you don’t support any political party in your articles.

The problem is as Richard mentioned: There is no clear law. Actually, you can do a lot of things here - as long as you don’t “annoy” someone. If that happens: See you…(or not)
The regulation applied to kick you out in such case is that you come to Taiwan with a purpose and the country grants you the right to stay here for a certain time - and for a certain purpose, which should be the one you mentioned in your application form. If you applied for work in Taiwan, you are supposed to work, but not to do anything else. (So how about JFRV? Is one only supposed to “join family” and hug them all day while staying at home?) However, if you engage in activities not mentioned in your application (which would not only include political activities), police may say you “betrayed” the ROC in your application and thus…
But a question: Do the same rules (in case of political activities) also apply to people with JFRV? Are they also simply thrown out?

My Taiwanese companion says you can’t help during the election, but can help after they are elected. Does this make sense? She says some Legislators have employed foreign advisors.

I also hope foreigners are not being punished for supporting certain politics, DPP vs. KMT vs. PFP vs. TSU vs. Green? (Wishful thinking, as if it were not part of politics anywhere). But the point is that civil rights should cover reasonable participation in civic events regardless of which group holds it and if the police or authorites agree. Not violent anti-social disturbing the peace, but peaceful demonstration.

Can this be a case of civil rights again as covered by the unresolved status of Taiwan as jointly administered by the Allies and ROC?
How far does this argument go with the powers that be in Taiwan?

Originally posted by Hartzell: ... Their explanation is that certain types of activities "violate one's purpose of residency." ...

I’m curious to hear how you think that the new Open Work Permit plays into this? Anyone who, like me, is married to a Taiwanese citizen and has residency based on that relationship, and who also has applied for and received the Open Work Permit, does not have a stated “purpose of residency” in the same way that someone who received his residency and work permits in connection to a certain position. This would presumably mean that we cannot violate any obscure and undefined administrative notions of “purpose of residency.”

As for the rights of foreigners in other countries, anyone who gains permanent residency (but not citizenship) in Sweden is allowed to vote (and stand for election? Can’t remember off the top of my head) in municipal and provincial elections (more or less the equivalent of city and county elections in Taiwan), but not in national. To vote in national elections, you have to be a Swedish citizen.

What about the Taiwan lobby and their off-the-record spending on lobbying the US Congress? I mean this is so successful that there is now a very special Taiwan Caucus in the House of Representatives with over 100 members and growing!

Internal interference? FARA violations? Oh no, the Taiwan lobby doesn’t like the fact that we, US citizens and close friends, are now shoving SFPT status down their throats.

FAPA itself has spoken out against the excessive promotion of the SFPT in “other forums” but they then also push a special “Assent of the People” Resolution which cites the SFPT ‘undetermined status’ and Montevideo Convention for self-determination rights!!!

Torrecelli Resolution on “Taiwan Status”:

This is a new Teller Resolution of the 1898 Treaty of Paris for Cuba!

Would Taiwan’s sending of terrorists to the US to murder writer Henry Liu constitute “interference”???

Certainly adds one more count to a very long list of ROC crimes which have gone unprosecuted by the US authorities, doesn’t it?

“Purpose of residence” would have to be defined. Residency does not in my mind have a purpose, it is a state of being. This I would imagine is merely an excuse picked from a possible candidacy of hundreds of excuses. They simply do not want foreigners to engage at all in politics, and to reserve that category of misdemeanor as a means of booting out any foreigners they don’t like.

Work permit violations, of course, are the first choice for a government wishing to reduce its foreign population, and often the easiest.

People do not simply “reside” in order to carry out their jobs for which they have ARCs and work permits. People live in a country. Is the ROC government seriously trying to argue that the only legitimate activity for a foreigner in Taiwan is the execution of his duties under his contract of employment ? What about the foreigner with permanent residence ? Is he not entitled to any say whatsoever in the environment in which he is living and how he is affected by it ?

Would making representations to the ROC government in respect of a UNDHR right be political activity ? How far can one go in order to request that the right to family life, for example, be observed ? Would petitioning for a change in the law be political activity (yes) even if its only purpose was to enable you to remain with your family - the stated “purpose” of your JFRV ? Who makes the law ? Is it interpreted by courts ? Do they follow their own precedents ? What does the ROC government think of the UNDHR ?

This “purpose of residence” sounds like Cold War diplomatic language, the old “activities incompatible with your status” line. The only option as I have said before in various states of insobriety is for us to establish a little island state with diplomatic links with Taiwan. Then we’re all diplomats. I’ll offer my island up, as long as there is no tax on Guinness and fags, and I can be Minister for Beer.

You’ve touched on something very profound with the “purpose of residency” and how it conflicts with having a legal domicile in Taiwan. Just exactly whom gave the legal right to the ROC Chinese to establish a domicile on the island?

Show me their “alien status” papers!

I got an e-mail from Linda Arrigo:

[quote=“Linda Arrigo”]The Director of the Vice Pres’s Human Rights Committee just called me yesterday to say that they will hold a seminar on July 24, Thursday, 9 am - 12 noon on the issue of freedom of speech of foreigners in Taiwan, in particular concerning my report on police intimidation of foreigners following protest demonstrations against the US invasion of Iraq.

I hope you will all attend; but preparation has to be done to gain admittance to the Presidential Office. E.g. identification information. So please send an e-mail to

Chen Hsin-jieh
E-mail address: hjchen1 at mail dot oop dot gov dot tw
or telephone 2388-7627.

The police also wrote a letter back to the office of Legislator Bikhim Hsiao; basically they repeated the regulations against foreigners demonstrating, and denied visiting the Chinese Language Center or participants in the demos. The usual. But it is time to demand basic human rights – freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary or selective persecution.[/quote]

Linda’s contact details are on her web site.


[quote=“Linda Arrigo”]
Preliminary Report on Taiwan Police Intimidating Foreigners Protesting Against the US Attack on Iraq

Linda Gail Arrigo
(contact details deleted by Juba)

April 15, 2003

The following is a brief report of scattered information I have collected that indicates the Foreign Affairs Police are using explicit or implied threat of deportation to dissuade foreigners in Taiwan from exercising their right to freedom of speech, in this case specifically on the issue of recent U.S. action against Iraq.

This matter involves also the freedom of speech and knowledge for citizens of Taiwan (Republic of China), and the protection of human rights in general. It involves the customary and habitual behavior of the police and their own understanding of the upholding of legitimate and enforceable laws - i.e., vague, intimidating, secretive, and selective enforcement is not the proper behavior for a modern police force operating under a rule of law with protection of civil and human rights, but it is still occasionally reported in their dealing with foreign residents in recent years.

The specifics:

On February 15 the first major demonstration was held next to AIT (American Institute on Taiwan) to protest US intentions to attack Iraq, with or without UN participation. About 20 non-locals participated in this peaceful event.

On March 10 myself and 13 other foreigners long resident on Taiwan signed an open letter to Pres. Chen Shui-bian, urging Taiwan to stay neutral in this conflict; it was published in the Taipei Times.

On March 15 over 100 non-locals and a few dozen locals gathered in Ta-An Park in the afternoon for an anti-war rally with drums and performances, and then planned to march to a distance of about 50 meters from the front of AIT, a safe limit requested by police protection. Sean (surname deleted by Juba), the main organizer, was very careful to communicate with the police in advance (the activity did not have a demonstration permit) and create an activity that expresses a political opinion with no threat of violence, even on a small scale. The rally was attended by a policeman in plainclothes, who issued about twenty or thirty copies of a document to the participants, with the title “Immigration Law”, main contents as follows:

Immigration Law

Article 27
Aliens who are visiting or residing in the State may not engage in activities or employment that are different from the purposes of their visits or residence.

Article 34
Aliens may be forcibly deported if they:
(4) Have violated paragraph 2 of Article 19 by leaving an overnight lodging without permission; or
(5) Have violated Article 27 by engaging in employment or activities that are different from the purposes of their visits, or residence; or
(6) Have violated the Article 28 by failing to observe the set restrictions on domiciles and activities, or the rules that have to be followed; …

The police issuance of this document upset and worried many of the participants, but I gave a short speech that I have had long experience with these things, and that the police could not possibly enforce such an Immigration Law that was so obviously a product of the martial law period, especially under the Chen Shui-bian government that had proclaimed itself dedicated to human rights. No one was seen to leave, despite worry.

The document is obviously left over from a time when any activities could be arbitrarily defined by the police as “different from the purposes of their visits or residence” for the application of political censure. Notably, the document does not state that foreigners have no right to express political views. But, moreover, the sheets handed out had number (5) highlighted in yellow marker pen, such that the police were making a not-so-veiled threat that the protesters could be hounded and subjected to selective enforcement of “laws” that are in actuality almost never invoked, as can be seen in that foreigners teach English all over Taiwan in formal and informal schools, even in the public schools, both full and part-time, without any concern for such an unnecessary and arbitrary law, which is intrusive on freedom of education and commercial exchange.

The March 15 protest concluded without incident, after Sean and one other person[color=red]*[/color] delivered their protest statement to the door of AIT, while the other hundred-some persons waited at the prescribed distance.

On March 21 noon Lynn Miles burned his American passport at the side of AIT, accompanied by a number of friends and fellow protesters, including several resident in Taiwan for 20 years or more. Lynn Miles is an American who has been working for human rights in Taiwan since his deportation from Taiwan in 1972 due to his friendship with Lee Ao. In 1975 he founded the Committee for the Protection of Political Prisoners in Taiwan, from his residence in Osaka; he was central in providing an outside link and concern for the Taiwan democratic movement of 1978-79, and active for Taiwan’s human rights and self-determination through the 1980s. In the mid-1990s he worked for DPP Foreign Affairs for about three years. Currently he is organizing his archives that he has donated to the Wu San-Lien Foundation. He is also one of the central organizers of current protests in Taiwan against the US attack against Iraq.

On March 22, Douglas Paal, head of the American Institute on Taiwan, was quoted by the Taipei Times:

Since the outbreak of the war, several anti-war groups have staged protests in front of the institute’s office in Taipei. Paal said that he was grateful that the protests were peaceful and the police were helpful in “making sure that the activities were within the law.”

“All wars are accompanied by dissatisfaction and a free society has different people and the right to protest, we respect that,” he said. On the other hand, the anti-war sentiment in Taiwan surprised him, he said, because in comparison “there have been so few protests in the US,” he added.

It was also reported in the United Daily News of March 24 that Paal had requested of the Taiwan Legislative Yuan that it pass a resolution in support of the US action against Iraq, without success.

There were also further large demonstrations on March 22, of both local and foreign residents; Sean (surname deleted by Juba) was again one of the organizers of a peaceful action to deliver flowers showing concern to AIT.

Over a week later I received two reports that the Foreign Affairs Police has visited, at the least, the Chinese Language Institute on Yenping N. Road, which is where Sean (surname deleted by Juba) is registered as a student. On Monday, March 31 I spoke by telephone with the head of the Institute, who said that the Foreign Affairs Police were very polite when they came on about March 24 or 25, and they came with Sean’s name and passport number, and inquired about his attendance. She said they mentioned that AIT had requested the names of participants in the demonstrations. According to indirect information from a student at the Chinese Language Institute, police had shown videos of the demonstration to the staff to ask them to identify the participants and provide names, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc., and the staff complied. This caused some concern to the students.

Also on about 3/31 or 4/1, Sean visited the Foreign Affairs Police office to renew his visa, and he was told that the week before one of their superiors had intended to deport him, but they were going to let him by for now. They said they had contacted him because his residence and telephone number were not current and correct.

Also late in March or perhaps early April, at least two foreign scholars at Academia Sinica were visited by the Foreign Affairs Police, who politely said they were watching out for foreigners considering the threat of terrorism. One of these scholars had attended the Feb. 15 demonstration and signed my March 10 letter; the other had attended the March 22 demonstration, where he had seen the police taking pictures of the demonstrators.

On April 9 I heard from a knowledgeable professor at the Institute for International Relations that AIT had requested a list of protestors, and that the Taiwan police had turned it over, listing both local and foreign individuals and organizations.

On April 12 another large demonstration was held in front of AIT, organized by the TAISO Labor Rights groups related to the Xiachao organization. Sean (surname deleted by Juba) and only one or two other foreigners were there. The police told Sean that he would be in big trouble if he got up to speak there. He did speak, at my urging that it is time we made an issue of this infringement on freedom of speech.[color=red]*[/color]

Since then his visa has been renewed on April 15 without further threat, but this does not mean that some sneak action may not be taken against him as has often happened in the past. The police give no advance notice with a legal rationale for denying residence in Taiwan, but then when the foreigner returns to CKS Airport from a vacation in Thailand or home visit to the US, (s)he suddenly finds that he is denied entrance. He is stranded and forcibly separated from home, personal belongings, job, and loved ones, often even wife or husband and children. Of course in that position the foreigner has no way to resist or even make contact with those who would challenge the police action – for which a plausible reason is usually still not given --, and he is also in immediate financial and personal crisis.

It is due to my knowledge of such past incidents, as well as the fear that has currently been spread by the recent police implied threat, that I strongly urge human rights organizations in Taiwan to take a stand at this time, and in fact bring a legal case against the Foreign Affairs Police to force revision of the law and change in their habits. The rights of foreigners to speak are also the rights of local residents to know: such can be seen when Ms. Tu returned to Taiwan to speak out about the Lafayette scandal in November 2001, and was threatened with just this limitation on non-citizen’s right to speak publicly, which intimidated her into silence.

This is a matter of principle which is a suitable test of the Chen administration’s stated resolve to make Taiwan a human rights exemplar.[/quote]

[color=red]*[/color]The person who accompanied Sean to deliver the letter to the AIT on 15 March was Tang Shu of the Labour Rights Association. He is now being prosecuted in connection with the 12 April demonstration, and also in connection with a protest that took place last August. Source: Taiwan Migrants’ Forum

See also the “What happened to these people?” thread - the first part, before it goes off topic, and the thread about anti-war protests.

:shock: I’m totally shocked that the cops should follow the law! Whatever next? Surely they should have known that foreigners were involved (and foreigners who spoke chinsese no less) and let them off for their heinous offenses.
But on a serious note, what the fuck did you expect?

Pardon me . . . . . . but you have missed the entire point of Linda Arrigo’s report and commentary. The cops [i]are not following the law[/i].

The law is what it is as written. An “expansionist interpretation” of the law might be allowed, if it were part of a judgement issued by a court. However, the National Police Administration is not a court. It does not have the authority to issue such an “expansionist interpretation” . . . . . . . what the NPA is doing is effectively classifying LEGAL ACTIVITIES as ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES. The question is: Where is it written in black and white that foreigners do not have freedom of speech in Taiwan?

Answer: Nowhere.

Another question: Does the NPA have the authority to issue such a regulation, and then state that foreigners can be deported for violations of same?

Answer: No. The NPA is not the Legislative Yuan.

When we were in the Legislative Yuan discussing the rough draft of the Immigration Law in 1998 and 1999, the Legislators stressed that any determination of [i]violation of one’s purpose of residency[/i], must be, a priori, illegal to begin with.

In other words, if you are running a prostitution ring, or selling hard drugs, or stealing cars, etc. in Taiwan, then YES, you can be held to be in violation of your purpose of residency/stay.

But how can you be held to be in violation of your purpose of residency/stay for doing [i]legal activities[/i]? According to the law of nations, and all international precedent, this makes no sense whatsoever . . . . . . . . .

If exercising your rights to free speech is legal, and you can be deported for it. What other legal things can you be deported for ?
Ok, the law doesn’t specifically say that foreigners can protest, so they can be deported. It also doesn’t say they can take busses, can they be deported for that too ?
How come Taiwanese have the right to protest, but foreigners don’t ? Do any other democratic countries have a law like this ?

[quote]I’m totally shocked that the cops should follow the law! Whatever next?[/quote]Why would they pick this law to follow, and none of the others ?