On March 11 Ling Yu-shih (凌友詩), a 57-year-old Taiwanese national, gave a speech at a meeting of the annual Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), advocating for Taiwan’s unification with China.
“Standing with all of the other CPPCC members in bearing the mission of rejuvenating China, our motherland, I can say that I have managed to escape the narrow ideological confines of Taiwan to embrace the motherland,” Ling said in her speech.
“I would like to say that there is only one China in the world. The only legitimate representative government of China is the government of the People’s Republic of China. I am proud to be a dignified Chinese who can participate in the political system of the country,” she continued, repeating almost verbatim the Chinese Communist government’s official position regarding Taiwan.
Calling herself an “ordinary Taiwanese girl”, she falsely implied that her standpoint reflected that of the vast majority of Taiwan’s population.
Ling Yu-shih is a committee member of the CPPCC and an honorary researcher at the Research Centre for Contemporary Chinese Culture of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Ling’s speech provoked Taiwanese netizens’ ire. Not only her words, but also her affected tone and Beijing accent, which differs from the Mandarin pronunciation of Taiwan, drew criticism and ridicule.
The “Taiwanese girl” (台灣女孩), as she was sarcastically nicknamed by Taiwanese netizens, was born in Kaohsiung. She left Taiwan at the age of 17 and settled in Hong Kong, where she gained a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Hong Kong.
However, Ling may not always have been a loyal follower of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to one of her former fellow students, Hong Kong freelance writer Ng Yuet-ning (吳月寧), Ling used to oppose the Chinese Communist regime.
In a letter published on Hong Kong news website Apple Daily, Ng wrote that in 1989 Ling Yu-shih joined a group of Hong Kong university students who supported the Tiananmen student movement in mainland China.
“Ling Yu-shih threw herself into the group’s activities,” Ng wrote. “Because her Chinese was better [during the British colonial era only English and Cantonese were commonly spoken in Hong Kong], her help was required when dealing with Chinese texts. At that time she gave me the impression of being a straight-forward young intellectual who ardently loved democracy. Whenever we spoke about the wrongs done by the CCP in China over the previous years, she was filled with indignation and sometimes even couldn’t help but curse the CCP and express anti-CCP feelings.”
In 2009 Ng met Ling again at an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Ling said that she had found a job at the Central Policy Unit, an agency tasked with advising the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. She explained that despite her university degree it was difficult for her to find a job, citing that as the reason why she had taken up a government post.
“It is difficult for me to accept Ling Yu-shih’s change,” Ng concluded. “What has prompted her to suppress her conscience, to be willing to allow the CCP to use her as a tool of its [Taiwan] unification struggle? Is it money, power or false reputation? If she has a chance to read this article, I hope that she will give me an answer.”
The Taiwanese government issued a fine of NT$500,000 (US$16,230) to Ling Yu-shih for violating the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例).
Article 33 of the Act states that “no individual, juristic person, organization, or other institution of the Taiwan Area may engage in [a]ny form of cooperative activity with the agencies, institutions, or organizations of the Mainland Area which are political parties, the military, the administration or of any political nature, or which are involved in any political work against Taiwan or affect national security or interests.”
During a committee meeting of Taiwan’s legislature on March 13, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) stated that the government was “likely to cancel [Ling’s] citizenship for violating the law.”
On March 14, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Ch’iu Ch’ui-cheng (邱垂正) said that under existing laws, only nationals who hold a People’s Republic of China (PRC) passport or a PRC household registration can be stripped of their citizenship.
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