[quote=“Feiren”]Let me try to explain.
Taiwan is unquestionably a free society for its citizens. In many ways, it feels much freer than the US because the police are far less omnipresent and less threatening and the people ignore a lot of the minor laws and rules that they don’t like. Taiwan has freewheeling, completely uncensored media. It has open and reasonably fair elections in which two parties have regularly taken turns winning for most of the last 20 years. There is a large gay community that is left pretty much alone. There is no religious right. There is no homeland security or paranoia about terrorism. There are all kinds of activists who protest regularly about everything from the environment to credit card debt to homelessness. There is very, very little crime. People don’t police political correctness.
That said though, Taiwan is still dealing with the hangover of a police state that ruled by martial law for 40 years. That state had lots of nasty ways for getting rid of foreigners it didn’t like. The favored way was to hustle to them the airport and never allow them to come back. The rules allowing this are still on the books. That means that the police can arrest and deport any foreigner at any time for doing anything in Taiwan that does not comport with the purpose of their visit. The police decide what the purpose of your ‘visit’ (this even applies to people with permanent residence) and there is no review by an immigration court before you are deported. You can appeal to Taiwan’s courts from overseas and I believe that many deportees could win, but this is expensive and would take time. I know of no one who has done so.
The result is that you can be deported by the police at any time arbitrarily. As you can imagine, that puts a bit of a crimp into the rights of foreigners here. This situation is unlikely to change because Taiwan has more than 400,000 migrant workers from SE Asia that employers and the police like to control this way.
That said, as a foreigner from a western country, it is very unlikely that you will be deported unless you commit a serious crime, get caught with drugs, or get HIV. Foreigners can and do participate in all kinds of legal protest and demonstrations (those with a permit). What you cannot do is speak on stage (not a good idea to get on stage, but people get away with it) at a political rally during an election. You also cannot be the sponsor (i.e.) the applicant of a demonstration. If you protest in a demonstration without a permit, nothing will happen about 90% of the time, the big exception being that if you get involved in labor or environmentalism activism and protest without a permit against the interests of one of Taiwan’s big companies like Formosa Plastics or Foxconn, you will have a good chance of getting deported.
You should also be aware that as a legacy of martial law the police and security agencies tap hundreds of thousands of phones. They do need warrants, but the courts approve 99.999% of them and even if they don’t, they can use the evidence from an illegal wiretap against you. The same goes for search warrants. This applies to Taiwanese as well as foreigners.
In sum, Taiwan is free in ways that the US is not. Its political system and society are free, but, in my opinion, it is not entirely ruled by law in the way Americans would understand that to mean. That leads to the very good advice that Cranky gave earlier in the thread.
Since Taiwan is not ruled entirely by law, the real question for foreigners is what the authorities will tolerate. They are pretty tolerant at the moment and that seems to be the long term trend.[/quote]
Well written synopsis of the situ.