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Taiwan’s Parliament Passes Controversial Pro-China Bill

Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwan’s opposition-controlled legislature has passed controversial legislative changes that are perceived to favor China, despite significant public protests.

The new laws, passed on Tuesday, were driven by the opposition nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) and the smaller Taiwan People’s Party (TPP). These changes grant lawmakers the authority to demand regular reports from the president and require answers to their questions. Additionally, the legislation criminalizes government officials’ contempt of parliament. Critics have argued that the new laws are vaguely defined and lack essential checks and balances, making them susceptible to misuse.

Legislative Control Over Budgets and National Security Concerns

The legislation increases the legislature’s control over budgets, including defense spending. It also permits parliamentarians to request information from the military, private companies, or individuals deemed relevant. However, there are concerns that this could jeopardize national security.

Opposition’s Stance and Protests

The opposition parties, viewed as more amicable towards Beijing, seized a narrow majority in the legislature after January’s elections. In contrast, William Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidency and was sworn in last week.

Protests against the legislation have been ongoing for days, culminating in a large gathering outside the legislature on Tuesday. Inside, the legislative chamber was adorned with banners from both sides, and debates turned into shouting and physical confrontations.

Reactions from the Governing Party

DPP legislators accused KMT and TPP deputies of undermining Taiwan’s democracy, arguing that the reforms were pushed through without proper consultation and were either vague or overreaching in scope. Governing party lawmakers threw rubbish bags and paper planes at their opposition counterparts during the vote. DPP parliament leader Ker Chien-ming addressed the chamber, stating, “You can seize parliament, but you cannot seize public opinion,” suggesting Beijing’s influence in Taiwanese politics. Opposition lawmakers responded by holding sun-shaped balloons and chanting, “Let sunlight into parliament.”

Military Activity and International Relations

China has maintained a campaign of intimidation by sending planes and ships near Taiwan daily. On Tuesday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reported detecting three Chinese warplanes and 11 naval and coastguard ships within the past 24 hours, down from 21 aircraft and 15 ships the previous day. This comes after Beijing launched large-scale war games around Taiwan following Lai’s inauguration on May 21.

The United States remains Taiwan’s strongest political ally, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties.

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