TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s ruling party denounced China as an “enemy of democracy” on Monday following fresh claims of Chinese interference in the island’s politics ahead of presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 11.
The allegations, reported by Australian media, were made by a Chinese asylum seeker in Australia who said he was a Chinese spy. China, which claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary, has branded the asylum seeker a fraud.
Cho Jung-tai, chairman of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, which favours Taiwan’s formal independence, said there needed to be further investigations, noting that a lot of fake news came from China.
“The enemy of democracy is China. At present Taiwan’s most ambitious opponent, competitor, is also China,” Cho told a news conference in Taipei.
Among several allegations levelled, the would-be defector said he had helped guide positive media attention towards certain Taiwanese politicians, including President Tsai’s main opponent, Han Kuo-yu of the China-friendly Kuomintang party.
Cho said that while Kuomintang is the direct opponent in the election, the biggest challenge came from China, describing it as “strongest destructive force”.
Kuomintang’s Han said he would drop out of the election if he has taken any money from the Chinese Communist Party.
Speaking at a separate news conference, the Kuomintang said the issue was one of “blundering Communist espionage” that should be investigated immediately, and accused the government of seeking to use the matter to “manipulate elections”.
“We are urging the Tsai government and national security authorities to explain related incidents. They should not take an ambiguous attitude on the matter, influencing elections,” said a Kuomintang spokeswoman Wang Hong-wei.
Ouyang Long, another Kuomintang spokesman, said people should not be “painted red”, in reference to allegations of links to the Chinese Communist Party, and accused Tsai’s administration of “working in collusion” with outside forces.
“They should give a responsible answer to citizens and prevent rumours and fake news from circling, affecting the fairness of the 2020 elections,” Ouyang said.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)