The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said that Ho Jianghua (何建華), a legislator-at-large nominee for the Chinese Unification Promotion Party (CUPP), could be charged with vote-buying after allegedly leading a five-day tour on which most expenses were paid by the Chinese government.
On Monday, Ho was to be released on NT$200,000 bail, but she told prosecutors that she could not pay. They still released her, but restricted her travel.
The investigation is “political persecution,” Ho said, adding that the tour was unrelated to the Jan. 11 elections.
Photo: Screen grab from Facebook
“The participants paid the NT$7,800 cost of the five-day trip,” Ho said. “It was not vote-buying.”
The 16 tour participants were questioned and released on Monday, without bail.
Investigators said they have enough evidence of Chinese funds subsidizing the tour, which started in Kinmen and traveled via the “small three links” — from Penghu, Kinmen and Lienchiang (Matsu) counties — to Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province.
A cost of NT$7,800 per person only covers the airfare and other transportation costs (NT$6,600), as well as travel insurance and an administration fee (NT$1,200), leaving accommodation, meals and other expenses to be covered by Chinese funds, the investigators said.
An examination of cellphone messages showed that participants urged friends to vote for the party and its candidates in the election, and included messages that read: “Thanks to Chairwoman [Ho]” and “Hope our chairwoman gets elected,” the investigators said.
This indicated that the tour was meant to garner votes for the CUPP and Ho, they added.
Ho, 56, is a high-ranking member of the pro-China CUPP, founded by Chang An-le (張安樂).
Ho is also chairwoman of the Taipei-based Chinese Women’s Federation, a pro-China organization whose members are mostly Chinese women who married and settled in Taiwan.
The organization’s Facebook and social media pages support Taiwan’s annexation by China and other pro-Beijing views, while condemning advocates of Taiwanese independence.
Born in China’s Hunan Province, Ho in 1996 married her Taiwanese husband and came to live in Taiwan. Having fulfilled residency requirements and received citizenship, she is eligible to vote and run for public office.
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