Five Taiwanese businessmen working in China have been found guilty of accepting money from Chinese authorities to buy votes for a pro-Beijing candidate in Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election.
On January 17, the Taipei District Court indicted five businessmen for using Chinese government money to encourage Taiwanese citizens living abroad to return home and vote for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Han Guo-yu during his January 2020 presidential election. .
The Kuomintang is Taiwan’s largest opposition party and is known for its friendly stance towards China. However, despite Beijing’s attempts to interfere in Taiwan’s democratic elections, Khan lost his bid to oust President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) by a wide margin.
Among those found guilty, Lin Huai, chairman of a Taiwanese business association in Changsha, capital of China’s Hunan province, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and deprived of civil rights for four years for violating election and recall laws. This is reported by the Taiwan Central News Agency (CNA), citing a court decision.
Four more received 20 months in prison and deprivation of civil rights for two years.
The other four were Chang Ming-xia, chairman of the China New Family Association, Chang Guo-chun, director of the Hunan Association of Shaoyang City in Taiwan, Chuan Huang-chang, a businessman from Hengyang, and Shen Bin, deputy secretary of the Chinese Women’s Federation. According to the Taipei Times, they did business in China’s Hunan province.
Lin and four others held a year-end event at a Changsha hotel on December 11, 2019 to encourage Taiwanese living in Hunan province to return to Taiwan to vote in the 2020 presidential and legislative elections, according to CNA, citing prosecutors. offering them food and shelter.
Lin and the other defendants organized gatherings, banquets and lotteries for Taiwanese businessmen and students living in China in an attempt to convince them to vote for Khan, the pro-Beijing Kuomintang presidential candidate. They also rolled out a special program that provided about $244 per person in airfare to help Taiwanese citizens living in China return home before Election Day on Jan. 11, 2020, the investigation found.
Former Beijing Capital Normal University professor Li Yuanhua told The Epoch Times that Taiwan’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was originally anti-communist before being infiltrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“The CCP has always tried to infiltrate and influence Taiwan. It never stopped. [The CCP] has the means to do so. The case of Lin Huai is a great example,” Li said.
At least 200 Taiwanese have been confirmed to have taken advantage of the offer, with many more applying for the money. As such, Lin and the defendants were charged with vote buying, violating the Election Law, and recalling the president and vice president, the ruling said.
According to the Taipei Times, the money to finance the vote-buying scheme came from the Changsha city government and the local Taiwan Affairs Office. Chinese city governments have provided about $550,000 to support subsidies for Taiwanese to return home to vote, with Lin and others applying for and receiving about $235,000, citing the investigation.
CCP infiltration into Taiwanese politics
On May 8, 2020, the Taipei District Attorney’s Office indicted seven individuals for violating election and recall laws. Two of them were acquitted on charges due to insufficient evidence.
Tong Jian-hua, vice chairman of the Taiwan Business Association in Changsha, and Ho Jianhua, head of the Chinese Women’s Federation in Taipei, were acquitted. However, the prosecutor’s office said the decision could still be appealed.
Notably, Huo Jianhua, one of the two acquitted, was a Chinese citizen who married in Taiwan and later acquired Taiwanese citizenship. She is a member of the China Unification Promotion Party, also known as the Unionist Party, the Taiwanese branch of the pro-CCP political party that advocates the unification of China as a self-ruled democratic island. The party has also been known for intimidating pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong and pro-Taiwan independence leaders in Taiwan, as well as its members’ triadic background.
According to the CNA report, Huo appears to have received sufficient funding without needing legal income from work since she joined the CCP-backed organization. She is also an MP candidate for the Unionist Party. If elected, her role in Taiwan would be similar to that of a senator in the United States.
After learning of the convictions of five Taiwanese businessmen linked to Beijing, former presidential candidate Han’s office said he was not aware of the events and his campaign headquarters did not receive any funds from the organizers of the event, CNA reported.
Taiwan’s hardening attitude towards China
Han Kuo-yu or Daniel Han is a former major in Taiwan’s southern port city of Kaohsiung, whose status was similar to that of a governor in the United States. However, Han was also the first mayor of Taiwan to be removed from office during his first term. Adding insult to injury, Khan did not even live halfway through his first term before facing a re-election.
On June 6, 2020, voters in the city of Kaohsiung overwhelmingly voted to remove Khan from office, just months after he lost his presidential bid to President Tsai Ing-wen, who is now serving her second term in the highest office. At the recall, the turnout was 42 percent, the highest ever recall in Taiwan, and was supported by all but 2.6 percent of the votes cast.
Han, a member of the largest opposition party, the Kuomintang, campaigned for the presidency on the platform of forging closer ties with the Chinese regime, which claims Taiwan as its territory but has never ruled over it. Khan’s pro-Chinese stance and his resignation as mayor to run for president greatly upset the people of Kaohsiung.
The runoff election, with a stunning turnout, reflected Taiwan’s hardening of attitudes toward China, rebuffing the regime’s intensifying efforts to assert its control over Taiwan.
On December 31, 2019, the Taiwan legislature passed the Anti-Infiltration Law, a law that regulates the influence of entities deemed hostile foreign forces in Taiwan’s political processes, including elections and referendums. The law was intended to further limit Beijing’s tactics to undermine Taiwanese democracy. However, the illegal actions of Lin Huai and the other defendants took place just before the promulgation of the new law. They managed to avoid sentences and punishments that could have been more severe.