Beijing has expressed its strong opposition and concern after the Taiwanese government began a probe into a tiny but passionately pro-mainland opposition party for national security reasons, the latest flashpoint between China’s mainland and the self-ruled island.
Taiwanese investigators on Tuesday searched the homes of four officials from the New Party, which has no members of parliament, on suspicion they had violated the National Security Act.
A New Party delegation, including at least one of those whose homes were raided, party spokesman Wang Ping-chung, visited the mainland last week as part of a scheduled trip to meet China’s policymaking Taiwan Affairs Office.
The New Party has denounced the raids as politically motivated, although Taiwanese prosecutors and the government have not given details of what they are suspected of.
Party chairman Yok Mu-ming said he wondered how such a small party with no legislators could be considered to have any secrets, and said that they had nothing to fear from the investigation, Taiwanese media reported.
In a short statement released late on Tuesday, the Taiwan Affairs Office praised the New Party for its stance in opposing Taiwan’s independence and upholding the one-China principle, which states that Taiwan is part of China.
“Recently, the Taiwanese authorities have shielded and connived with independent splittists, and taken various moves to wantonly crack down on and persecute forces and people who uphold peaceful reunification,” it said.
“We strongly condemn this and are paying close attention to developments.”
The New Party broke off from the Kuomintang, who once ruled all of China, in 1993. Defeated Kuomintang forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists.
Relations between Beijing and Taipei have soured since Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections last year. Beijing suspects she wants to push for Taiwan’s formal independence.
Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with the mainland but will defend Taiwan’s security.
The People’s Liberation Army has stepped up air force patrols around Taiwan in recent weeks. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring what it considers a wayward province under Chinese control.