Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau and police searched the homes of four New Party officials early Tuesday morning. Investigators entered New Party spokesperson Wang Bingzhong’s home with a search warrant after a 40-minute standoff, streamed lived on Wang’s Facebook page. Three other party members, all considered the upcoming new blood of the party, were searched and questioned before being released past midnight on Wednesday. Investigation Bureau did not provide additional details, but it is speculated that the searches are connected with Zhou Hongxu, a Chinese citizen serving a 14-month sentence for attempting to bribe a Taiwanese diplomat and recruit spies for China.
New Party was originally a faction within Kuomintang, but splintered off in 1993. It is a conservative party supporting Chinese unification (Group E on the spectrum). The party was once the third largest political party in Taiwan after the KMT and DPP, winning 21 and 11 seats in the Legislative Yuan in 1995 and 1998. It has since failed to garner support for electoral success, currently occupying no seats in the legislature and two seats in the Taipei City Council. New Party Chairman Yu Muming denounced the searches as politically-motivated, citing the party’s lack of governing status and lack of access to any classified information. Yu and a New Party delegation including Wang had just returned from a trip meeting Communist Party of China officials last week.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office condemned the moves “oppressing pro-unification forces”, while Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council countered the importance of judicial independence and expressed disapproval over “external intervention and commenting… [and] misunderstanding of democracy and rule of law.”