BEIJING — A widening political scandal is threatening to split Taiwan’s ruling party and set back efforts to build closer economic ties with China.
Recent allegations of influence peddling by Taiwanese politicians, driven in part by investigators’ wiretaps of one lawmaker’s cellphone conversations, have stirred fear and paranoia among some political leaders.
“I’m sorry. It’s not safe to talk right now. We are being monitored,” said a political adviser within the Nationalist Party, whose leaders have both driven the investigation and been the ones most damaged by it.
Taiwan’s justice minister has been forced out, and its high-
profile legislative speaker has been expelled by his party.
The fallout could have sweeping consequences for Taiwanese politics, weakening the already unpopular administration of President Ma Ying-jeou and giving a boost to the opposition party, which is much less friendly toward mainland China.
The dominoes began falling when Taiwan’s high court overturned lawmaker Ker Chien-ming’s guilty verdict on embezzlement charges.