Taiwan Probes Security Lapse Allowing Chinese to Enter Illegally

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwanese authorities believe thousands of mainland Chinese, including government officials, may have illegally entered Taiwan over the past two years, highlighting a security risk to the island ahead of a national election.

More than 5,000 Chinese citizens are suspected of entering Taiwan illegally between 2017 and 2019, Taipei District Prosecutors Office spokeswoman Chen Yu-ping said by phone. Many of the arrivals are believed to have been government officials, according to the Taipei-based Central News Agency.

Taiwanese prosecutors are now investigating 20 travel agencies and 10 civic associations for assisting Chinese nationals to travel to Taiwan under false pretenses, CNA reported Wednesday.

The travel agencies were suspected of passing the personal details of prospective mainland visitors along to local associations, who in turn issue invitations allowing visitors to secure travel permits from Taiwan’s immigration authorities.

The investigation into the possible national security lapse comes a month before Taiwanese voters head to the polls to elect their president. President Tsai Ing-wen, who has received a boost in the polls amid anti-China protests in Hong Kong, is up against Han Kuo-yu, of the more Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, in January’s vote.

Since Tsai came to power in 2016, Beijing has ratcheted up the diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan in an attempt to force her to accept its negotiating framework that both sides are part of “one China.” Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party supports independence, has refused to do so.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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