The head of a communist party in Taiwan has been indicted for allegedly acting as a proxy for Beijing and attempting to bribe voters in elections, Taiwanese prosecutors said Wednesday.
Lin Te-wang, chairman of the Taiwan People’s Communist Party, was charged with violating the Anti-infiltration Act on Wednesday alongside two other members, according to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office.
The indictment came as Taiwan is heading into presidential and parliamentary elections in January amid deteriorating ties with China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own territory.
Various Taiwanese government officials have warned that Beijing, which loathes President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, could try to influence the island’s election results.
Lin was indicted for allegedly receiving Chinese funding to run for city councillor in the city of Tainan in 2018.
He had also allegedly financed a party member to run in another city council election in 2022, even though he was aware that Beijing “aims to infiltrate Taiwan’s elections”, prosecutors said.
“Lin is obviously a proxy for a hostile external force and is also a source of infiltration defined by the Anti-infiltration Act,” they said in a statement.
Prosecutors said he had met with Chinese officials, including those from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office — which handles cross-strait relations — and invited some of them to visit the island multiple times.
He had also allegedly accepted paid trips to China, they said.
In the 2022 local elections, Lin attempted to bribe voters with Covid test kits he received from China but was stopped before distributing them, prosecutors said, adding that this move also violated a law regulating medical devices.
Lin’s small party, founded in 2017, maintains that Taiwan is a part of China.
Last year, a Taiwanese couple became the first to be charged under the anti-infiltration law for allegedly bribing voters with Chinese Covid tests ahead of local elections.
The law, pushed by President Tsai’s party in 2019, bans “hostile” foreign forces from campaigning, lobbying, making political donations or spreading disinformation related to elections.