Chinese authorities have condemned Taiwan’s probe into a small pro-unification political party with suspected ties to China. In response, Taiwan said it would not accept “nonsense” based on misconceptions of its democratic values.

The row came after Taiwanese police raided the homes of four members from the New Party, a small pro-China party, on suspicion that they were related to a Chinese graduate who was recently jailed for trying to recruit spies for Beijing. The student is serving a 14-month prison term for violating the National Security Act.

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Investigators outside Wang Ping-chung’s residence on Tuesday. Photo: Wang Ping-chung, via Facebook.

On Tuesday, Wang Ping-chung, spokesperson for the party and one of those arrested, broadcast his arrest on social media. He refused to open the door when investigators arrived. The stand-off lasted for about 40 minutes, until authorities barged into his residence.

The incident took place shortly after Wang met with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office in the mainland. Earlier this month, the New Party announced plans to set up a liaison office in China to serve Taiwanese expatriates living in the country, Focus Taiwan reported at the time.

Wang and his three colleagues were released after more than 18 hours of interrogation.

In a media session on Wednesday, Wang denied claims that he had accepted funding from China. He said the RMB notes taken away by investigators during the search came from the sale of his books in China.

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Wang Ping-chung (left) at a New Party media session. Photo: Wang Ping-chung, via Facebook.

Independence row

Meanwhile, the row escalated after Beijing characterised it as an attack on anti-independence voices.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement on Tuesday that it was “very concerned” about the incident. “We highly commend the New Party for upholding the One China policy, opposing Taiwanese independence, supporting peaceful reunification, and promoting cross-Strait development.”

“For some time now, Taiwanese authorities have been tolerating pro-independence separatists and using various means to suppress voices that support cross-Strait peaceful reunification. We sternly condemn this, and will continue paying close attention to the issue.”

State tabloid Global Times ran a commentary on Tuesday criticising Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party for failing to rein in pro-independence advocates. It said punishment of pro-independence forces was legally justifiable, as the international community “generally supports the One China policy.”

“The mainland is not trying to intervene in Taiwan’s normal judicial procedure, but rather take legal action against serious offenders with a view to safeguarding national unity,” the outlet said.

In response, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng said on Wednesday: “Taiwan is a democracy governed by the rule of law. Unlike those under rule by law, our judiciary looks at facts and evidence. It will not target anyone because of their political affiliation, let alone give them impunity based on their political views.”

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng. File Photo: Wikicommons.

“We do not accept any outside interference or nonsense that is based on misconceptions of our democracy and rule of law,” Chiu said.

Taiwan’s presidential office declined to comment on the case, but it said the investigation should not be compared to the recent conviction of Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-cheh in China.

Last month, a Chinese court sentenced Lee to five years in prison for “subverting” state power, after he confessed to publishing online articles that criticised the Chinese government and promoted democracy.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.