Suspects, who could face five years in jail, are also accused of receiving funds from Beijing to carry out such activities
Gong He Party Chairman Chou Ko-chi (center) is escorted by Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau officials in Taipei. (Photo: Taipei Times)
Three pro-China political activists have become the first to be indicted in Taiwan for receiving funds from China and meddling with local elections in violation of the country’s Anti-Infiltration Act.
Chou Ke-chi leader of the Republican pro-China Gong He Party and two others became the first to be indicted on Aug. 9 under Taiwan’s 2020 Anti-Infiltration Act, the Taipei Times reported on Aug. 10.
Along with Chou, who also leads the pro-China 333 Political Alliance, Pan Jindong and Chu Chun-yuan, board members of the Taipei Puxian Association, were also indicted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice.
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Chou “had received money from China to organize activities against Taiwanese independence groups and denounce efforts to improve Taiwan-US relations,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Prosecutors alleged that Chou used the funding to disrupt Taiwan’s political stability through propaganda promotion and concerted efforts with pro-Beijing individuals in the region known as the United Front.
The office said that Pan and Chu, the co-accused, made frequent trips to China, specifically to Fujian, to source the funds and colluded with Chinese officials to influence Taiwan’s elections.
In 2022, the duo provided Chou with NT$220,000 (around US$6,912), which “contravenes” laws on registered political parties receiving funds from foreign sources, Taiwanese prosecutors said.
Allegedly, Chou also used the funds to “carry out targeted protests against” the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) during the World Movement for Democracy’s Global Assembly in Taipei in October last year, Taipei Times reported.
The NED is an independent, nonprofit foundation funded largely by the US Congress and dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world.
Chou and Pan had paid NT$200 to NT$250 (around US$7 to $8) to 65 people outside the conference venue to attend a demonstration, along with other expenses, Taipei Times reported.
The trio then collaborated to compile the videos and briefs on their campaigns and protest activities and sent them to their Chinese handlers through WeChat.
The prosecutors said that they were also investigating United Front activities targeting Taiwanese businesspeople and students, and the funding it provides to conduct pro-China propaganda campaigns in Taiwan.
Allegedly, Chou used the money to make flags and print pamphlets for the Gong He Party, and organize rallies to “espouse Chinese political propaganda,” the prosecutors said.
According to reports, Gong He Party candidates for Taipei mayor and city councilor offices in the nine-in-one elections in November last year were funded with money channeled by Pan and Chu from China.
The money was used for running the campaigns for the 2022 Taipei mayoral candidate, Tang hsin-min, and other city councilor candidates of the Pan-Blue Coalition.
According to data from Taiwan’s Central Election Commission, Tang received 316 votes, or 0.02 percent, in the election. Whereas, the pro-Beijing councilor candidates received a combined 67 votes, Taipei Times reported.
The indictment pointed out that Pan was born in China’s Fujian Province and had immigrated to Taiwan in 2002 with his family and later acquired Taiwanese citizenship.
During one of Pan’s visits to China, government officials had invited him to serve as deputy director of the Putian Porcelain Arts Museum, which is funded and controlled by the city’s Taiwan Affairs Office.
If convicted under the anti-infiltration law, the perpetrators could receive a maximum fine not exceeding NT$10 million (around US$314,317) or five years imprisonment.
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