Lawmakers from South Korea’s ruling conservative party have introduced legislation to curb foreign influence in local elections, especially cited risks from China.

Lawmaker Kweon Seong-dong from the People Power Party proposed the Mutual Election Act on December 5. The bill will restrict voting rights to foreigners with at least five years of permanent residency in the country. In Korea’s existing law, three years of residency is considered legitimate.

Kweon noted that Chinese nationals have made up most of the foreign voters, accounting for nearly 100,000 of the 127,600 eligible nonnatives as of March. This has raised concerns about interference.

In a social media post on December 6, he stated, “China actually interfered with the Australian and Canadian elections to create diplomatic problems. This is a real reason for many citizens’ concerns.”

He continued, “The electoral system, which is a means to maintain and operate the liberal democratic system, should not be abused.”

Kweon also said that, unlike Korea, other nations such as the U.S. and Britain do not allow overseas citizens to cast ballots, and neither do communist nations such as China.

He said, “Thus, the current public election law violates the principle of interstate mutualism.”

The bill, therefore, further requires that foreign nationals can only vote for mayors, governors, and local council members, providing that their country also lets South Korean permanent residents vote in their elections.

According to The Associated Press, 17 other Kweon’s party members also support the legislation. They said that the number of international individuals in Korea is rising, which raised concerns that people’s opinions could be distorted.

Both Canada and Australia have accused the Chinese regime of attempting to interfere in their elections. Australia argued that the CCP wanted to endorse the center-left Labor Party because it was less likely to confront the CCP’s economic coercion. Canadian media believes the regime funded a “clandestine network” of candidates, and staffers in the 2019 election.
According to CBC, part of the regime’s interference campaign was to “punish Canadian politicians whom the People’s Republic of China views as threats to its interests.”

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