Houston Community News >> Biometric Plan Aimed at Chinese Travelers

1/3/2007-- The government’s plan to use a biometric identification system aimed only at Chinese passengers at nationwide points of entry will not breach human rights and will heed national security, Executive Yuan spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang said yesterday.

Cheng made the remarks at a news conference following a weekly Executive Yuan meeting.

Main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers attacked the planned measure by the National Immigration Agency (NIA) earlier the same day, accusing the NIA of targeting only Chinese entering the country — something which they criticized as a discriminatory move that would only be put in place in a fascist regime.

Claiming that “similar” preventive measures and national security mechanisms have been implemented in advanced countries in Europe and America, Cheng said that the government will not apply inappropriate measures that would infringe upon any individual’s human rights even for national security needs.

“Everyone is free to air different viewpoints, but he or she must not smear others or twist the facts, ” Cheng argued, stressing that “the government will certainly stick to its key principles while seeking to reinforce national security under some special circumstances.”

During a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, KMT legislative caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung and lawmaker Lee Ching-hua blasted the biometric identification plan by the NIA, which was inaugurated Tuesday after being upgraded from the Bureau of Immigration under the Ministry of the Interior to handle increased business volume.

The NIA should apply the biometric identification measure without discrimination to all entering foreign passengers if it wants to safeguard the nation’s security, Tsai said, accusing the government of treating immigrant Chinese spouses and Chinese travelers like “terrorists” for seeking to subject them and only them to the practice.

Tsai asked the NIA to re-assess the planned measure, which is slated to be imposed from June or July.

According to NIA Director-General Wu Chen-chi, his agency plans to first set up a personal data bank of Chinese tourists by using facial pattern authentication facilities and fingerprint recognition facilities in the initial stage.

The system is expected to be launched nationwide by the end of this year and the measure will be applied to all foreign visitors, he added.

(Contributed by China Post)