Taipei, March 17 (CNA) Taiwan's Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said Friday that a new requirement for civil servants to obtain approval from the government before transiting in a China airport is based on an existing law, defending criticisms that the rule is too strict.
Lin said whether the requirement is appropriate is open to discussion, but the government is trying to solve problems by making such a requirement.
Because civil servants are not allowed to travel to China without the government's approval, transiting in a China airport may become a convenient way for those who want to "hand over something" to the Chinese side, he explained, alluding to possible espionage by civil servants.
The premier made the remarks during an interpellation session in the Legislative Yuan, when he was asked about an interpretation of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.
Under the law, civil servants are required to get approval in advance before traveling to China.
According to an interpretation of the law issued by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Thursday, being in a Chinese airport means being in the mainland area, therefore civil servants are required to obtain the government's approval before transiting in China.
Opposition Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), however, criticized the MAC as over-interpreting the law in such a way that it has infringed on the basic human rights stipulated in the Constitution.
He said the requirement reflects the government's distrust of its employees, which he said will undermine their morale.
Premier Lin proposed amending the Act if the requirement is seen as unreasonable.
(By Wang Cheng-chung and Y.F. Low)