Fake Taiwan ID cards made in China have been found in the self-ruled island and pose a grave threat to national security, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan and security officials have warned.

A Ministry of Interior official insisted earlier this week that Taiwan’s ID cards have the best anti-counterfeit features of all identification documents in use.

But he admitted that fake ID cards from China now look almost authentic and could sometimes fool inspectors.

He also agreed that China-made special paper, color-changing ink and other materials could easily be purchased online for criminals to produce counterfeit Taiwan ID cards.

Passports, loans

People could use fake ID cards to apply for Taiwan passports and take out loans. And some lawmakers fear that, Chinese agents may also use them to spy and undertake other clandestine activities.

One concern is that Chinese agents could use fake ID cards to gain access to military camps, government buildings or even the Presidential Palace on annual public open days. Anyone with an ID card can also call up government files and declassified archives in public libraries.

There are more than 20 security features on a genuine ID card. When held against the light, an image of Taiwan comprising tiny pinholes can be seen on the front of a genuine card, and no holes should be visible on the back of a card.

In light of the threat, the Taiwanese authorities are considering adding integrated chips on new ID cards to further enhance security, and restrict sales of key materials used in the production of ID cards and other important identification documents.

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan announced at the end of 2018 that it would start replacing existing ID cards made of paper with new electronic ID cards in the second half of 2020.

New security features include a hologram with a wave and 3D effect, rainbow printing combining two colors, a stereo laser image and microprinted texts, among others.

Some 23.58 million Taiwanese are expected to replace their ID cards at that time.