Report by: Angeli Datt and Jaw-Nian Huang
- Increased influence efforts and new tactics: The Chinese Communist Party exerts considerable influence in Taiwanese media, and it stepped up its efforts during the coverage period of 2019–21. While Chinese state news outlets and Chinese diplomats lack a physical presence in Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party has experimented with new media tactics and strategies intended to sow local divisions, harm Taiwan’s foreign relations, and destabilize its government.
- Heightened public opposition toward Chinese Communist Party propaganda: The Taiwanese public is highly skeptical of Chinese state media, and polls showed that Taiwanese opposition to the Chinese government’s “one country, two systems” formula for unification rose throughout the coverage period, reaching a high of nearly 90 percent in late 2021. The outbreak of war in Ukraine in 2022 further pushed public opinion away from China amidst the specter of a Chinese Communist Party invasion of Taiwan. Nearly three out of four Taiwanese people believe that news media should be regulated to address Chinese Communist Party propaganda, according to a 2021 poll.
- Covert partnerships with local media: Chinese state-produced content is regularly placed in local media through illegal but widespread paid advertorials, coproduction deals, or content-sharing agreements. Such content is not clearly labeled as the product of Chinese state entities, and it may look like an independently written or produced news article, broadcast program, or other media material.
- Subsidized press trips, online influencers: Taiwanese journalists were routinely invited to participate in junkets, summits, or other paid trips to China with the aim of generating friendly news content before the pandemic stalled international travel. In 2019, the Cross-Strait Media Beijing Summit, hosted by Beijing Daily News Group and Want Want China Times Media Group, was attended by 85 Taiwanese media professionals, including owners, editors, and journalists. Taiwanese private companies and online influencers are also given subsidies or training by Beijing to shape content in Taiwan.
- Business ties drive self-censorship: Local media—especially outlets that are part of the Want Want China Times Media Group, owned by pro-Beijing Taiwanese businessman Tsai Eng-meng—produce Beijing-friendly content and suppress stories about human rights or other issues that disfavor the Chinese government. Chinese authorities or pro-Beijing netizens have coerced Taiwanese celebrities and corporations into self-censoring or taking sides on Taiwan’s status by warning that they could face financial penalties or lose Chinese market share, advertising revenue, or contracts.
- Intensified disinformation campaigns: Disinformation campaigns have been one of the most prominent tactics for the Chinese Communist Party to try and influence Taiwanese media discourse, especially during this report’s coverage period. Dozens of campaigns mounted by Beijing-linked actors are detected monthly, with a significant focus on discrediting Taiwan’s democratically elected government during the COVID-19 pandemic. False content is often directly published by Chinese state entities on social media platforms—such as Facebook, Twitter, Line, or YouTube—and then republished in local Taiwanese news outlets, or increasingly by alternative news sources like social media influencers.
- Defamation suits and cyberattacks: Pro-Beijing actors like the Want Want China Times Media Group have used defamation lawsuits to target journalists and commentators who expose Beijing’s influence in Taiwanese media. One lawsuit by the group’s chairman in 2019 sought to punish a Financial Times correspondent and other media outlets for reporting that exposed the direct meddling of Chinese officials in Taiwanese editorial coverage. The Chinese government also engages in direct and indirect forms of censorship, including blocking the websites of Taiwanese outlets that carry critical content and launching cyberattacks against such outlets.
- Daily resistance within media outlets: Many Taiwanese journalists have responded to self-censorship pressure inside their media outlets by adopting creative strategies of “internal” and “everyday resistance,” which can include complaining to the company or supervisors, disobeying instructions to remove or rewrite content, or deliberate inaction on orders to remove content.
- Flexible funding models: Taiwanese outlets have used new funding strategies to address the financial pressures on the media sector, including nonprofit structures with grant-based funding, a social-enterprise model with responsible shareholders, or a mixture of public grants and commercial funding.
- Diverse civil society responses: Taiwanese civil society has developed creative and positive responses to Beijing’s influence that could strengthen Taiwan’s democratic resilience, including initiatives to monitor Chinese-funded activities in Taiwan, support press freedom, track disinformation, and counter fake news with fact-checking. The 2019 Anti-Red Media Movement, which protested against Chinese infiltration of Taiwanese media and the participation of Taiwanese outlets in cross-strait media summits, mobilized 50,000 protesters and crowdfunded a campaign for legislation.
- Media literacy efforts: Civil society groups have also led the way in holding media and digital literacy workshops that teach residents of all ages how to recognize fake news, resist information manipulation online and particularly on social media, and use fact-checking platforms. The Ministry of Education has added media and online literacy programs to Taiwan’s school curriculum.
- Government response through policy and legislation: Taiwan’s political leadership has elevated the issue of covert Chinese Communist Party influence to the highest levels of government, and it has begun proposing or enacting laws to address it, including on interference in elections and foreign agent and investment transparency measures. This approach is not universally supported in the country, and the new laws have received pushback and criticism from the main opposition party, though there remains cross-party support for Taiwan’s democratic system. The government has responded to Chinese state-linked disinformation campaigns with new initiatives that require all government agencies to correct false narratives clearly and simply on social media within a set period of time.
- Tech company response: International social media companies have responded vigorously to Chinese state-linked disinformation targeting Taiwan, for instance by taking down networks of inauthentic accounts, establishing a dedicated Elections Operation Center to counter disinformation during the 2020 presidential election, and sharing information about their work in Taiwan. However there remains concerns that platforms resist measures to enhance transparency and increased regulation, leaving the sector vulnerable to manipulation from Beijing.
- Gaps and vulnerabilities: One of Taiwan’s biggest vulnerabilities is that the private sector remains highly vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese government due to its economic activities in China. There also continue to be gaps in the regulatory framework, with the Foreign Influence Transparency Law still in draft form and concerns about its potential to stifle free expression. The ongoing failure to enact a law to prohibit media monopolies and cross-ownership, and concerns over weak enforcement of the Anti-Infiltration Act are other important gaps.
Taiwan’s vibrant and competitive democratic system has allowed three peaceful transfers of power between rival parties since 2000, and protections for civil liberties are generally robust. Taiwan is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2022, the latest edition of Freedom House’s annual study of political rights and civil liberties.1 The country also hosts one of the freest online environments in the Asia region and is rated Free in the 2021 edition of Freedom on the Net, Freedom House’s annual study of internet freedom.2
Taiwanese news media collectively reflect a diversity of views and report aggressively on government policies, though many outlets display strong affiliation to various Taiwanese political parties in their coverage. Some key media owners have significant business interests in China and/or rely on advertising by Chinese companies, leaving them vulnerable to pressure and prone to self-censorship on topics considered sensitive by Beijing.3 Mandarin and Taiwanese—also called Hokkien—are the two most widely spoken languages, and Hakka is an official language.4 Several Indigenous languages are also officially recognized.5 The Mandarin and the Chinese writing system used in Taiwan have some differences from those used in China.
Formally there are no diplomatic relations between Taiwan and China. Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has a long-stated objective to unite it with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by peaceful or military means. The two governments have bilateral agreements on issues like family reunion and direct flights. Taiwan’s Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (Cross-Strait Law) prohibits or restricts Chinese investment in certain industries, including the media sector, and other activities. China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) often exerts its media influence through proxies in the private sector or pressure on parent companies. Taiwan is home to small communities of Hong Kongers, Tibetans, and Falun Gong practitioners, and some Chinese who come to Taiwan to study, work, and marry, though they do not make up a significant portion of the population.6
In the past decade there has been growing pushback in Taiwan against Beijing’s influence. This was partly a response to the warming of relations between Beijing and Taipei under President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT, or Nationalist Party), who held office from 2008 to 2016. The 2014 Sunflower Movement protests against Beijing’s economic influence resulted in the scrapping of a proposed Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement. In 2016, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen was elected president; she was then reelected in 2020 despite Beijing’s clear opposition to her candidacy. The DPP does not support unification with China and is vocally critical of the Chinese government. As a result of the party’s electoral success, Beijing has ramped up covert and coercive measures to destabilize Taiwan’s government. These tactics escalated further during this report’s 2019–21 coverage period, particularly following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
- 1Freedom House, “Taiwan,” in Freedom in the World 2022, https://freedomhouse.org/country/taiwan/freedom-world/2022.
- 2Freedom House, “Taiwan,” in Freedom on the Net 2021, https://freedomhouse.org/country/taiwan/freedom-net/2021.
- 3For example, Feng Ziwei, “Taiwan’s Far Eastern Group bows to China after hefty fines,” Taiwan News, November 30, 2021, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4360495.
- 4According to a 2020 census, 66.3 percent of Taiwan residents said Mandarin was their primary language, while 31.7 percent said it was Taiwanese. “109 年人口及住宅普查初步統計結果” [Results of 2020 Population and Household Census], Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics, Executive Yuan, August 31, 2021, https://www.dgbas.gov.tw/public/Attachment/1831151816OM26MHO7.pdf.
- 5J. Zach Hollo, “As Taiwan’s Identity Shifts, Can the Taiwanese Language Return to Prominence?,” Ketagalan Media, August 27, 2019, https://ketagalanmedia.com/2019/08/27/as-taiwans-identity-shifts-can-th….
- 6Yang Jhih-Ciang, “為什麼來、往哪裡去──來台藏人的離散足跡與選擇” [Why Come And Where to Go? The Discrete Footprints and Choices of Tibetans in Taiwan], The Reporters, May 20, 2021, https://www.twreporter.org/a/exiled-tibetan-in-taiwan.
Propaganda and promotion of favored narratives
Beijing’s propaganda in Taiwan is intended to sow local divisions, harm the country’s foreign relations, and destabilize its government. In many ways, CCP propaganda amounts to disinformation, as it purposefully disseminates false information about how the DPP governs with the aim to discredit the democratic system in Taiwan while promoting China’s authoritarian model and the idea of unification. Chinese state media regularly publish content on cultural or social issues to build a narrative of “one China” that incorporates Taiwan.
Chinese state media and their proxies have aggressively used the COVID-19 pandemic to advance such narratives. The CCP regime, often through local allies, criticized the Taiwanese government’s response to the pandemic, tried to raise concerns about vaccine availability or urge residents to turn to China for vaccines,1 and suggested that Taiwanese officials were not reliable or trustworthy. State media also attempted to use the pandemic to undermine US-Taiwan relations, for example by publishing articles claiming that Taiwanese netizens rejected US arms sales with the slogan, “We want vaccines, not weapons.”2
Other narratives promoted by Beijing have threatened Taiwan’s existence and its support from democracies around the world. Increased backing for Taiwan from other democratic countries has especially increased in 2021-22 due to Chinese government’s aggressive military maneuvers and the Russian military invasion of Ukraine and fears it may lead Beijing to invade Taiwan. The Chinese foreign ministry warned that Beijing would “take all necessary measures” to prevent Taiwanese independence.3 Chinese officials have also pushed narratives that “Taiwan is not Ukraine” and blamed the DPP for “stirring up trouble” in response to concerns that the Russian regime’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine may encourage the CPP to take similar military action against Taiwan.4 At the same time, Chinese state media overtly tied the war in Ukraine to Taiwan through slogans warning that the United States would encourage and then abandon Taiwan, such as “Today Ukraine, tomorrow Taiwan” and “Do not be an American pawn.”5
Key avenues of content dissemination
The Cross-Strait Law prevents Chinese state media from publishing or broadcasting in Taiwan, though Taiwanese regulations allow Chinese nationals to enter the country for technical exchanges, meaning correspondents from China may visit or be stationed in Taiwan.6 Before the outbreak of the pandemic, according to local media reports, there were 30 Chinese journalists from 10 different media outlets stationed in Taiwan, but by the end of 2021 there were only seven correspondents from five outlets: the state news agency Xinhua, China Central Television (CCTV), the satellite television channel Xiamen Star (廈門衛視), Hunan TV (湖南衛視), and the newspaper Hai Xia Dao Bao (海峽導報).7 According to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, at least 468 Chinese correspondents have visited Taiwan between 2016 and 2022 to conduct interviews or report stories.8
Online, Xinhua publishes content in Traditional Chinese, the writing system used in Taiwan, and the CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily has an online Taiwanese edition, also using Traditional Chinese characters.9 China has long targeted Taiwan with radio propaganda since the 1950s since some Taiwanese islands close to China would be within broadcast range. The China Media Group has for years run a radio show called Voice of Taiwan Strait (臺海之聲) and launched a web portal with expanded content in March 2021 on the website Hello Taiwan (你好臺灣).10
Traditional news media in general remain popular in Taiwan, with 59 percent of the population receiving news through television, though only 19 percent reported receiving news through print outlets.11 Some 80 percent of Taiwanese people get news from online sources, including social media platforms like Line, Facebook, and YouTube. The internet in Taiwan is largely unrestricted, and Taiwanese users can access Chinese state media websites or engage with Chinese officials or state media accounts on social media platforms. Chinese officials and state media are active on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, and their content often circulates widely in Taiwan or is republished in Beijing-friendly local media.12
In practice, the most common avenues for dissemination of Chinese state media content in Taiwan are paid advertisements, coproduction and content-sharing agreements, local media that produce pro-CCP content, and journalist junkets and social media influencer trainings to cultivate Beijing-friendly voices. These findings align with research from Taiwan-based Doublethink Lab’s 2022 China Index, which tracks CCP influence in nine sectors, and found that Taiwan had the highest level of CCP media influence of the 36 countries examined.13
Paid advertorial content in local media: Although Chinese state media lack direct access to Taiwan, their content finds its way into the Taiwanese market through several channels, including illegal paid advertorials. Chinese state media outlets have flouted Taiwanese laws that ban Chinese officials from paying local media to publish pro-CCP political propaganda.14 Despite earlier investigations into the problem by Taiwanese lawmakers and the Mainland Affairs Council in 2010 and 2012,15 Freedom House research has confirmed that this practice continued during the 2019–21 coverage period.16 According to an academic study that surveyed 149 Taiwanese journalists in 2019, one-fifth of respondents had worked on projects involving cooperation with Chinese authorities on illegal embedded advertising at some point.17
According to journalists specializing in cross-strait affairs, several local media outlets are suspected of currently publishing paid advertorial content that comes directly or indirectly from Chinese officials.18 Such material looks like independently reported news articles, broadcast programs, or other products; since the practice is illegal, the content is not clearly marked as coming from Chinese state entities. According to an interview with a journalist who used to be stationed in China and wished to remain anonymous, “some newspapers… have often published ads sponsored by Chinese local governments about tourism and business opportunities in China.”19 A media editor specializing in cross-straits affairs cited a financial motive for the phenomenon, explaining, “Of course this is profitable.”20 That editor also reported that “a Kaohsiung newspaper had directly published content which is arranged and paid by China News Service every day.”21
According to the journalist formerly stationed in China who wished to remain anonymous, the China Taiwan Network (Taiwan.cn)—which is controlled by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office—and the Chinese publisher Jiuzhou Press privately contact Taiwanese media to collaborate on paid reports.22 Reportedly the Chinese state entities cover transportation fees or other indirect costs. In Taiwan, several pro-Beijing media groups often play a middleman role, arranging for other newspapers, television stations, and digital outlets to promote Chinese state propaganda and receive payment from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and Chinese local governments.23 For example, one company runs an advertising agency, subcontracting the paid advertorial content from Chinese government bodies to Taiwanese media, according to a former senior editor at one of its publications.24
Coproduced content: Current affairs and cultural programs that were coproduced by Taiwanese media and Chinese entities, including Chinese state propaganda departments, are regularly broadcast in Taiwan. In early 2021, one Taiwanese outlet coproduced a feature, about Taiwanese who settled in China, with media organizations linked to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.25 Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the program was scripted and filmed by media organizations tied to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and then edited by Taiwanese media workers. Documentaries produced by Chinese provincial propaganda departments or state-owned channels have aired on television in Taiwan. For example, the 14-episode series Crossing Taiwan (過臺灣), produced by the Fujian Province propaganda department, was broadcast on TVBS in 2018 and is available on the TVBS YouTube channel, where it has garnered over 200,000 views.26 A 20-episode series on cultural identities, filmed by Xiamen TV and Eastern Broadcasting Company (EBC), was was broadcast on EBC China Television (CTV) in Taiwan in September and October 2019.27 A commentary program cohosted by Chung T'ien Television (CTiTV) and Shanghai Dragon TV has been on the air since 2013.28
Content-sharing agreements: While Chinese state media cannot directly broadcast or distribute content in Taiwan, several Taiwanese outlets have signed content-sharing agreements with them. These agreements are generally not public, and most information about them has been discovered through interviews with journalists. For example, such agreements reportedly exist between TVBS and CCTV,29 and between EBC News and Southeast TV and Xiamen Star.30 Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) has basic cooperation agreements with Xinhua and China News Agency to purchase photos and footage from one another. CNA also purchases Xinhua copy, which it uses mainly for domestic China news and sometimes for cross-strait and Asian regional news, and Chinese media purchase CNA content.31 According to an interview with a Taiwanese correspondent formerly based in China, “Taiwanese media would not directly repost Chinese media’s content but revise or reproduce the news. They use Chinese news materials particularly for China domestic incidents.”32 Other Taiwanese media republish or post Chinese state media content; for example, China Times rebroadcasts the press conferences of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on its Facebook and YouTube pages.33 Some outlets that do not want to publish negative reports about China instead wait for CCTV to publish a story and then adhere to that narrative.34
Beijing-friendly content produced by local media: Beijing wields influence in Taiwan by co-opting local business elites, particularly those with commercial interests in China. These elites are provided with economic incentives to support CCP media goals, and economic punishments are meted out to those who cross Beijing’s invisible redlines on political and sensitive issues.35 One of the most prominent alleged beneficiaries of this system is one of Taiwan’s richest men, Tsai Eng-meng. He is in favor of unification and controls an influential media conglomerate in the country, Want Want China Times Media Group (旺旺中時媒體集團), which includes the China Times newspaper and the television channels CTV and CTiTV.36 All of the group’s outlets carry pro-Beijing content and have reduced their coverage of human rights issues in China under Tsai’s ownership (see Censorship). CTV and CTiTV are both members of the CCP-led Belt and Road News Alliance.37
In 2019, the Financial Times reported that editors at China Times and CTiTV received instructions from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on coverage and placement of stories, citing journalists who worked at the outlets.38 That same year, Reuters reported that five media groups in Taiwan had been paid by the Chinese government to publish pro-Beijing content, based upon a review of internal company documents.39 The Chinese government has also signaled its friendly relations with the media group by providing subsidies to its related company Want Want China.40 Other Taiwanese media outlets have pro-Beijing ownership structures or investments that are more indirect and opaque. Cher Wang, chair of HTC Corporation (宏達電), bought more than a half of the shares of TVBS through investment companies in 2015–16.41 Wang is well known as a pro-China Taiwanese businesswoman; HTC has many factories in China and is economically dependent on the Chinese market.42 However, TVBS has not been influenced by Beijing as substantially as Want Want China Times Media Group.43
Local media that are friendly to Beijing have promoted CCP narratives, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. China Times’ coverage of the pandemic obfuscated the fact that the virus originated in China and downplayed criticism of the Chinese government’s handling of the initial outbreak. It also accused the Taiwanese government of discriminating against China by calling the disease “Wuhan pneumonia,” which was the same term used in China at the beginning of the crisis.44
Subsidized journalist trips: For decades, Taiwanese journalists have been invited by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on trips to China to conduct media interviews or other reporting, though trips have stalled during the coverage period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cross-Strait Media Summit (海峽媒體峰會) has been held annually since 2009, co-organized by Chinese state media groups and Taiwanese media groups,45 with travel expenses normally covered by the Chinese government. In 2019, some 85 Taiwanese media professionals attended the Cross-Strait Media People’s Summit in Beijing (兩岸媒體人北京峰會), including owners, editors, and journalists.46 Want Want China Times Media Group also regularly hosts and co-organizes cross-strait media and internet conferences.47
In addition to the summits and conferences, Taiwanese journalists have been invited on trips to promote certain Chinese government policy priorities. For example, in 2019, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office arranged for Taiwanese journalists to travel to Guangxi Province to promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In 2021, it arranged for Taiwanese journalists already stationed in China to travel around Shanxi Province and the city of Yan’an, an important location in the CCP’s history, to promote the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding.48 According to those who have attended such trips, the journalists are added to a group on WeChat, the social media platform owned by PRC-based technology company Tencent, which has close ties to the CCP, and asked to send screenshots of their news reports, but they are not directly ordered to report or publish specific content.49
In a survey of Taiwanese journalists conducted in 2021, six out of 13 respondents said that some Taiwanese journalists published positive reports or comments after traveling to China on trips funded by the Chinese government.50 Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened cross-strait tensions, Xinhua and other Chinese state media have reportedly increasingly asked Taiwanese correspondents stationed in China to produce reporting on certain issues that can be repurposed as propaganda.51 Taiwanese journalists have not been allowed, like other journalists, to freely report on the ground from Xinjiang, the Uyghur homeland and location of atrocity crimes against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.52 State-sanctioned reporting trips to the region are also rare; the last officially organized trip to Xinjiang was in 2015, and a planned August 2018 trip was canceled.53
Trainings for social media influencers: As part of a newer strategy to shape and promote pro-CCP narratives in Taiwan, Chinese state-linked actors have organized trainings for online influencers to teach them skills like developing short videos and producing live shows, with the aim of attaining “online celebrity status.”54 Some of the trainings also give participants live broadcasting experience and elocution lessons. According to the National Security Agency of Taiwan, these trainings for Taiwanese internet celebrities and e-commerce live broadcasters are aimed at targeting people who wield considerable influence over the content consumed by young Taiwanese.55
In April 2021, for example, the Beijing-controlled China Taiwan Network (Taiwan.cn) ran an “e-commerce” influencer training.56 Separately, a Hangzhou investment association affiliated with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office ran a program called “Training Thousands of Taiwan Youth Anchors” between August 2020 and early 2022, with online and in-person sessions hosting hundreds of participants.57 The Zhejiang provincial government announced a scheme in July 2021 to train 1,200 Taiwanese youth e-commerce anchors, pledging to turn 30 of them into leading influencers.58 Government-linked groups in Fujian Province and Xiamen City held a Cross-Strait Youth Internet Celebrity Anchor Competition (海峽兩岸青年網紅主播大賽) and a Young Internet Celebrity Anchor Training Camp (青年網紅主播達人研習營) in December 2021; the 200 participants included Taiwanese youths as well as Taiwanese people living in China.59
Disinformation campaigns have been one of the most prominent avenues for CCP efforts to influence over Taiwanese media discourse, particularly during the 2019–21 coverage period. For the purposes of this report, disinformation is defined as the purposeful dissemination of false or misleading content, especially through inauthentic activity—such as the use of fake social media accounts—on global social media platforms.
Beijing has engaged in disinformation campaigns on issues including the Hong Kong prodemocracy protests, Taiwan’s relationship with the United States, and most prominently, Taiwan’s domestic politics. False or misleading narratives are often generated by Chinese state media, networks of automated “bot” accounts on social media, or so-called content farms; these narratives are then republished in some Taiwanese media, amplifying their influence. In the past three years, countless information operations have reached news consumers in Taiwan, to the extent that Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense declared it is combating the CCP’s “cognitive warfare” against Taiwan.60 A Taiwanese nongovernmental organization (NGO), the Information Operations Research Group (IORG), documents disinformation narratives and shows how many have connections to the CCP. In one six-month period in 2021, 14 suspicious narratives about vaccines appeared in Taiwanese social media and had links to the CCP.61
Chinese state-linked disinformation targeting Taiwan began in earnest in late 2018, when Chinese state media ran misleading articles about the evacuation of foreign nationals following a typhoon in Japan; a Taiwanese diplomat who was falsely accused of failing to rescue Taiwanese citizens later committed suicide.62 The following month, Chinese state media launched a new campaign focused on interfering with local elections.63 These efforts essentially backfired, as they created a growing awareness of such influence campaigns in Taiwanese society and among global social media platforms. A major attempt by Beijing to influence the outcome of the January 2020 presidential election notably failed, with DPP incumbent Tsai Ing-wen winning reelection by over 18 percentage points; the Taiwanese government, technology firms, and civil society groups had all worked to reduce the potential impact of CCP interference. Several detailed reports examined the Chinese state’s role in these disinformation campaigns.64
Researchers from Doublethink Lab found that China-linked disinformation is pushed into Taiwanese media through four main channels: (1) direct promotion by Chinese government departments and/or Chinese state media; (2) local actors inside China, such as lower-level government departments, state-affiliated users, pro-CCP netizens, or social media bot networks; (3) Taiwanese actors with commercial interests in the promotion of CCP narratives, including Taiwanese businesses and paid influencers; and (4) more generalized Facebook fan pages or content farms that push out pro-Beijing content in exchange for payment, without a political objective.65 False content is often directly published on social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Line, or YouTube—but also republished by local news media, and increasingly by seemingly credible alternative news sources like online influencers. For example, IORG found that the Facebook fan page of a prominent media expert, called Sisy’s World News (文茜的世界周報), was falsely attributing information to major international outlets like the New York Times when it actually came from Chinese state media.66
The CCP seized upon the COVID-19 pandemic to further ramp up disinformation and criticize Taiwan’s democratic system and elected government. Deliberately false content pushed out by CCP-linked actors included claims that 62,000 Taiwanese visited China specifically to receive vaccines; that the United States never sold vaccines to Taiwan; that Taiwan gifted vaccines to diplomatic allies even though supplies were lacking at home; and that the DPP government was causing the deaths of Taiwanese people by accepting faulty vaccines from Japan.67 The Taiwanese government debunked many of the claims.68
The CCP has also changed its tactics during the pandemic. Doublethink Lab identified a new method of spreading false information since February 2020, in which the poster claims to be a relative or friend of a Taiwanese legislator with “insider” information about the spread of the virus. The posts imply that the Taiwanese government is lying to the public about the severity of the health crisis. They are mainly produced by accounts on China’s Weibo social media platform and then circulated through various other channels, including fake accounts and groups on Facebook and Twitter, and then later YouTube.69
While it is difficult to generalize the types of people who are more likely to share or believe fake news, as different issues affect different people, one research study looked at groups that were most likely to believe or be unable to identify fake news during the 2018 elections. It found that the people most influenced by disinformation during that time were neutral voters, 20- to 29-year-old young men, women, and people with lower incomes.70 Another study found frequency and dissemination of information through their networks made people more likely to believe information.71 CCP-linked disinformation campaigns enjoy varying levels of success, with some posts attracting thousands or even millions of views, but have clearly made an impact on Taiwanese society in provoking a response in the form of civil society initiatives and new government policies and legislation (see Resilience and response). Professor Jaw-Nian Huang (黃兆年), during an IORG-organized conference, described Beijing’s disinformation campaigns as attempts to “tell a bad democracy story,” and argued that the democratic response should be to “tell a good story about Taiwan’s democracy.”72
Censorship and intimidation
The CCP engages in direct censorship targeting Taiwanese journalists and media outlets in China. Self-censorship is prevalent in Taiwan among pro-Beijing media outlets and companies with business ties to China. Online censorship is relatively rare in Taiwan, especially for news outlets, and any government-ordered restrictions are based on legal provisions.
- Chinese government-linked censorship: The websites of most Taiwanese media outlets, especially those that cover human rights issues or otherwise deviate from a pro-Beijing editorial line, are blocked in China. Taiwan’s official news agency, CNA, and a pro-KMT newspaper are also blocked.73 A check by Freedom House in December 2021 found that the staunchly pro-Beijing China Times is not blocked.74 Taiwanese journalists from Liberty Times and Apple Daily have not been allowed to report from China, and Taiwanese correspondents who do work in China have reported being detained, harassed, and threatened with visa denials based on their coverage.75 Taiwanese correspondents have also reported that Chinese officials blocked them from attending certain events or refused to grant interviews in retaliation for critical coverage, which may lead some Taiwanese journalists to self-censor in exchange for access.76
- Censorship by Beijing’s media proxies and journalist self-censorship: Censorship within proxy media, such as the Want Want China Times Media Group, is rampant. A former China Times journalist, Liao Zhao-xiang (廖肇祥), called out the media group for its censorship in a letter to management shortly before leaving the company in 2019.77 A 2015 academic paper found that on certain topics, such as Xinjiang, 100 percent of China Times reports were based on Chinese state media; even United Daily News, which supports the KMT but is not as explicitly pro-CCP as China Times, cited Chinese state media in 78 percent of reports on Xinjiang.78 Similar patterns were evident during the coverage period. After Hong Kong’s prodemocracy protests broke out in June 2019, Want Want-owned CTiTV did not cover the story.79 According to one academic analysis, in the first five years that Want Want owned China Times (2008–13), the paper reduced its reports on human rights issues in China by two-thirds, from an average of 350 articles per year to fewer than 100 articles. By 2013, fewer than 8 percent of the outlets’ in-depth reports covered human rights issues.80 According to the 2019 survey of 149 Taiwanese journalists, nearly 50 percent of the respondents said they had been ordered by their company or supervisor to reduce reports on sensitive issues, and 29 percent said they had self-censored on their own. Even more of the respondents had heard of such practice in their industry: 75 percent replied that they had heard of supervisors asking journalists to reduce coverage of issues that would be sensitive to the Chinese government, while 60 percent replied that other journalists self-censored their reports on sensitive issues without being instructed to do so.81 Want Want China Times Media Group has also been accused of direct coordination with Chinese authorities. In addition to the directives on coverage and placement of stories communicated by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office exposed by the Financial Times (see Propaganda), a former senior editor at China Times asserted that even a low-level official from that office would at times call by telephone and talk to China Times editors in a threatening manner about the paper’s news coverage.82
- Defamation lawsuits to stifle reporting: The Want Want China Times Media Group and Tsai Eng-meng have used defamation complaints to deter or suppress reporting on their close relationship with Beijing, though prosecutors or courts have dropped several such cases. Tsai sued Chen Ning-guan (陳凝觀), the host of the Next TV political talk show Era Money (年代向錢看), after she accused him in 2019 of purchasing his media holdings to carry out external propaganda for the CCP, and of receiving illegal funding from the CCP for the purpose of unification.83 Want Want also sued Financial Times journalist Kathrin Hille over her article reporting that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office directed news coverage at the group’s outlets; another lawsuit targeted the CNA for republishing Hille’s report.84 The group eventually rescinded both cases.85
- Businesses protecting interests in China: In recent years, Chinese authorities and/or pro-CCP netizens have persuaded some Taiwanese celebrities and corporations to censor themselves by threatening their business interests in China. According to a survey of Taiwanese journalists conducted for Freedom House, three out of 13 respondents said some companies avoided or withdrew advertisements placed with Taiwanese media that are critical of Beijing.86 Online influencer “Guan Chang” (館長) indicated that many business partners had canceled deals with him to avoid jeopardizing their access to the Chinese market after he held the Anti-Red Media Movement demonstration in 2019.87 In another case involving an influencer in 2019, a Chinese new media company sought to cancel a contract with Taiwanese YouTuber “Porter King” (波特王) because he had produced a video with President Tsai Ing-wen. The company tried to prohibit Porter King from calling Tsai Ing-wen “president” and asked him to delete the video immediately. He refused and canceled the contract himself.88 Taiwanese businesses with extensive commercial connections to China have faced growing pressure. After Beijing imposed a US$74.4 million fine on the Far Eastern Group in November 2021, the conglomerate’s chairman wrote an article parroting CCP propaganda and declaring that the company “opposed Taiwanese independence.”89 The fine was ostensibly handed down for violations of certain Chinese regulations, but Chinese state media described them as punishment for the Far Eastern Group’s previous donations to the DPP.90
- Cyberattacks: Taiwan is subjected to frequent cyberattacks, emanating from China in particular, and media outlets and journalists have been targeted. The country’s Department of Cyber Security said in 2019 that Taiwan faced about 30 million technical attacks every month, such as webpage defacements and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, half of which are believed to originate in China.91 On September 29, 2019, the apps and websites of Apple Daily’s Taiwan and Hong Kong editions were hit by a cyberattack.92 The incursion occurred on the anniversary of an Anti-Totalitarianism March in Taiwan and in the midst of the Hong Kong prodemocracy protests, and it may have been linked to the Chinese government. Reports from 2013 state that Apple Daily and CNA have faced persistent hacking attempts from China.93 In the survey of Taiwanese journalists conducted for this report, two of the journalists surveyed had likely been subject to a hacking attempt; they had received warnings about unusual log-ins on their phones.94 In total, six out of 13 respondents said that they had heard of reporters facing cyberattacks, including apparent hacking attempts, in retaliation for criticizing Beijing or reporting on issues that are sensitive to the CCP. The US State Department has also indicated that Chinese government actors conduct cyberattacks against Taiwanese journalists’ computers and mobile phones.95
- Physical attacks Hong Konger activists in exile: During the coverage period, physical attacks on individuals critical of the CCP occurred in Taiwan, with one of the cases linked to a Chinese national. In April 2020, Hong Kong bookseller and outspoken activist Lam Wing-kee was splashed with red paint days before opening a bookstore in Taiwan’s capital.96 Lam had previously been kidnapped and allegedly tortured by Chinese agents for publishing books which mocked the CCP.97 A Taiwan court sentenced the attackers, who claimed to be unhappy with Lam’s ideas and bookstore, to three to four months in prison.98 In October 2020, four men hired by a Chinese national attacked a Hong Kong prodemocracy-themed restaurant in Taipei that employed Hong Kongers in exile.99
Control over content distribution infrastructure
Beijing exercises limited control over content distribution infrastructure in Taiwan due to the Cross-Strait Law, which prevents Chinese companies from owning telecommunications infrastructure. However, Chinese technology companies with close ties to Beijing have a growing presence in the country. At the beginning of 2018, TikTok officially entered Taiwan and swiftly became the most downloaded short-video application; by 2020 it was the fourth most-downloaded iOS app in Taiwan.100 TikTok is a global subsidiary of the PRC-based social media company ByteDance. There have been some documented cases around the world in recent years of TikTok removing or downplaying politically sensitive content, including content that violates domestic Chinese censorship guidelines, although the company has subsequently reported correcting errors.101 A media report from June 2022 based on leaked TikTok meetings raised concern that statements made by ByteDance regarding data privacy of US users were false, and more broadly called into question other statements the company has made regarding its policies.102
iQiyi, a China-based streaming service that is now banned from operating in Taiwan due to regulations that prohibit Chinese investment in the streaming media sector, was ranked first in market share among Taiwanese users in 2019 and second in 2020 before the ban took effect that year.103 Chinese-made mobile devices are not widely used in Taiwan though still make up a notable market share. The Chinese manufacturer with the largest market share in the country is OPPO, which accounted for 11.4 percent of phone sales in June 2021.104 .
Taiwanese authorities have started to adopt more formal measures to exclude Chinese technology companies with a history of surveillance and censorship. The government banned Huawei, a PRC-based company with close CCP ties and a record of building censorship and surveillance systems in China and abroad, from building fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications networks in the country and has enforced some US sanctions on the firm.105 In January 2021, equipment made by Chinese surveillance firms Dahua and Hikvision were banned for government use.106 Despite these restrictions, several Chinese surveillance technologies are found in Taiwan, and some Taiwanese politicians have accused Chinese surveillance companies of obscuring their country of origin to evade Taiwanese controls.107
Dissemination of CCP media norms, tactics, or governance models
While the CCP’s media footprint in Taiwan is extensive, there are clear political constraints preventing any adoption of a Beijing-style media governance model. The ruling DPP explicitly opposes such emulation, and despite the opposition KMT’s warmer ties with Chinese authorities, it too supports Taiwan’s self-governance.
The adoption of CCP norms is more likely to be found among nongovernmental actors like private companies. For example, Want Want China Times Media Group suppresses coverage that disfavors Beijing, sues journalists for reporting critically on its ties to the CCP, and publishes CCP propaganda. The conglomerate’s Chinese parent company, Want Want China Holdings Limited, has received significant subsidies directly from the Chinese government.108 It then channels those funds to its sibling media group in Taiwan through advertising purchases and office facilities, which creates an imbalance in the media market by effectively subsidizing pro-CCP outlets.109
- 1“6月上半疫情燒，中共宣傳新口號：臺灣人到中國打疫苗” [Epidemic raised in June, The New Slogan of PRC Propaganda: Taiwanese Visit China for Vaccines], Information Operation Research Group (IORG), June 17, 2021, https://iorg.tw/da/2.
- 2“中共官媒以網友留言代表臺灣，評論美臺軍售：「要疫苗不要武器」” [CCP’s state media generalize part of Taiwan netizens to comment on US-Taiwan arms sales: Taiwanese want vaccines, not weapons], Information Operation Research Group (IORG), Aug 12, 2021, https://iorg.tw/da/10.
- 3“Beijing’s Global Content Manipulation, Plenum Propaganda, Sports Activism,” China Media Bulletin 158, Freedom House, November 16, 2021, https://freedomhouse.org/report/china-media-bulletin/2021/beijings-glob….
- 4“Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on February 23, 2022,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, February 23, 2022, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2511_665403/2… (https://archive.ph/1cZtY) ; Yimou Lee, Ben Blanchard, Emily Chow, “China says Taiwan is 'not Ukraine' as island raises alert level,” Reuters, February 23, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwan-says-must-raise-alert….
- 5“Manipulated warfare: Ukraine bad, US bad, Russia good, abandon Taiwan,” Information Operation Research Group (IORG), March 03, 2022, https://iorg.tw/_en/da/21.
- 6Article 37 of “Regulations Governing the Approval of Entry of People of the Mainland Area into Taiwan Area” [大陸地區人民進入臺灣地區許可辦法], https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?PCode=Q0060002; “政府開放中國大陸駐點記者來臺採訪之相關措施為何？” [What are the government's measures to open up correspondents from China to Taiwan?], Mainland Affairs Council Republic of China (Taiwan), July 11, 2016, https://www.mac.gov.tw/News_Content.aspx?n=F9057F9640B28033&sms=7C8440B….
- 7Lu Jia-Rong, “陸媒在台記者剩7人 創新低” [The number of Chinese correspondents in Taiwan is at a record low of 7], United Daily News, December 13, 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7331/5957263.
- 8In addition to the seven outlets with correspondents currently in Taiwan, state-owned outlets China National Radio (中央人民廣播電台), Southeast TV (東南衛視), Fujian Daily (福建日報), and Shenzhen Group (深圳報業集團) have also had correspondents in Taiwan. “開放中媒來台反遭促統 陸委會：若違法將依法查處,” [Open the Chinese media to Taiwan ends up promoting reunification. Mainland Affairs Council Republic of China (Taiwan) : In case of violating the law, the authority will investigate the matter and punish according to the regulation], Liberty Times, April 07, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/3884755.
- 9“新華網首頁 [Xinhuanet front page],” Xinhua, http://big5.news.cn/gate/big5/www.news.cn/ (https://archive.ph/B0VQP) ; “人民網首頁” [People’s Daily Online front page], People’s Daily, http://tw.people.com.cn/BIG5/index.html ( https://archive.ph/SmbNw).
- 10“從中國大陸央廣臺海之聲開播 看兩岸廣播心戰 [From the start of CMG Cross-Strait Radio to review the Broadcasting Psywar across the Taiwan Strait]”, Straits Exchange Foundation, June 2, 2021, https://www.sef.org.tw/article-1-129-12913; “Start broadcasting online! The Voice of Taiwan of China Central Radio and Television Station and the new media platform "Watching Taiwan" debuted” [开播上线！中央广播电视总台台海之声和 “看台海”新媒体平台亮相], March 24, 2021, http://m.news.cctv.com/2021/03/24/ARTIoB7uVsWK3g9UJxy5vPMS210324.shtml (https://archive.ph/bDz5p); “Hello Taiwan About” [你好台灣網簡介], accessed July 22, 2022, http://www.hellotw.com/ (https://archive.ph/m7QsC)
- 11Nic Newman with Richard Fletcher, Anne Schulz, Simge Andı, Craig T. Robertson, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen , Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2021, pp 148-149, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2021-06/…
- 12Simon Kemp, “Digital 2021: Taiwan,” DataReportal, February 11, 2021, https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2021-taiwan.
- 13“China Index- Media,” Doublethink Lab (DTL), 2021, https://china-index.io/domain/media.
- 14“臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例 [Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area],” Law 34, 2003, Mainland Affairs Council, accessed July 15, 2022, https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=Q0010001&flno=34 ; “大陸地區物品勞務服務在臺灣地區從事廣告活動管理辦法 [Regulations for Advertising Goods, Labor and General Services of the Mainland Area in the Taiwan Area],” Law 6-7, Revised in 2011, Mainland Affairs Council, accessed July 15, 2022, https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=Q0060008.
- 15Rebecca Lin, “Stained Red: China Infiltrates Taiwanese Media,” CommonWealth Magazine, December 29, 2010, https://english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=912 ; “糾正案文” [Corrective Measures content], Control Yuan, accessed November 13, 2021, https://www.cy.gov.tw/CyBsBox.aspx?CSN=2&n=134&_Query=97ce6cfe-9ff2-4ea… ; He Qing-Lian, 紅色滲透：中國媒體全球擴張的真相 [Red Infiltration: The Reality of China’s Global Media Expansion] (New Taipei City, Taiwan: Gusa Press, 2019) ; “媒體違法從事置入性行銷，政府必定依法處理” [The Media Illegally Engage in Advertorial News, The Government Must Deal with It According to The Law ], Mainland Affairs Council Republic of China (TAIWAN), March 30, 2012, https://www.mac.gov.tw/News_Content.aspx?n=B383123AEADAEE52&sms=2B7F1AE….
- 16A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021.
- 17A survey of 149 Taiwanese journalists, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, November 4-20, 2019. Huang Jaw-Nian, Lin Yu-Shiuan, “中國因素影響下臺灣媒體人的日常抵抗：對民主防衛的啟示” [Taiwanese Journalists’ Everyday Resistance Against China’s Influence: An Implication for Defensive Democracy], Journal of Democracy and Governance, Department of Political Science at National Chung-Cheng University, pg.41-79, August 2020.
- 18A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021
- 19Interview with Interviewee #01, former correspondent based in China, who requested anonymity, September 29, 2021.
- 20Interview with Interviewee #03, media editor in cross-strait affairs, who requested anonymity, October 22, 2021.
- 21Interview with Interviewee #03, media editor in cross-strait affairs, who requested anonymity, October 22, 2021.
- 22Interview with Interviewee #01, former correspondent based in China, who requested anonymity, September 29, 2021.
- 23Interview with Interviewee #03, media editor in cross-strait affairs, who requested anonymity, October 22, 2021.
- 24Huang Jaw-Nian, “威權的跨境流動與消長：中國因素、雙重政商關係與臺灣媒體自我審查” [Authoritarianism’s Cross-Border Flows and Vicissitudes: The China Factor, Dual Government-Business Relations, and Taiwanese Media’s Self-Censorship], Wenti Yu Yanjiu (問題與研究), Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, accepted, forthcoming.
- 25Interview with Interviewee #02 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, October 20, 2021.
- 26“【從歷史走來】1~14集” [Walk From History: episode1~14], TVBS, August 20, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS2O0QKk_855DCM1GMtib3eLfhp9FX-_k.
- 27“兩岸電視臺攜手合作 《根脈》共尋兩岸文化紐帶” [Television stations across the Taiwan Strait work together. The show "Roots" seeks the cultural ties between the strait], XiaMenTV, October 30, 30, 2019, http://big5.cctv.com/gate/big5/taiwan.xmtv.cn/2019/10/30/VIDEQQmMqDEVIq… (https://archive.ph/pW96s).
- 28“雙城記節目” [A Tale of Two Cities show], CtiAsia, https://ctiasia.chinatimes.com/two-cities/.
- 29Interview with Interviewee #01 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, September 29, 2021.
- 30A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021.
- 31Interview with Interviewee #04 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, October 29, 2021.
- 32Interview with Interviewee #01 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, September 29, 2021
- 33Interview with Interviewee #01 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, September 29, 2021,
- 34Interview with Interviewee #01 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, September 29, 2021
- 35Sophia Yang, “Taiwan's Want Want received NT$2.8 billion state grant from China in 2017,” Taiwan News, April 23, 2019, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3686238 ; Feng Ziwei, “Taiwan’s Far Eastern Group bows to China after hefty fines,” Taiwan News, November 30, 2021, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4360495.
- 36Andrew Higgins, “Tycoon prods Taiwan closer to China,” Washington Post, January 21, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/tycoon-prods-taiwan-c….
- 37“Members,” Belt and Road News Alliance, Accessed July 22, 2022, https://brnalink.com/members.html (https://archive.ph/HhIaA).
- 38Kathrin Hille, “Taiwan primaries highlight fears over China’s political influence,” Financial Times, July 16, 2019, https://www.ft.com/content/036b609a-a768-11e9-984c-fac8325aaa04.
- 39Yimou Lee, I-hwa Cheng, “Paid "news": China using Taiwan media to win hearts and minds on island – sources,” Reuters, August 19, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/taiwan-china-media/rpt-insight-paid-new….
- 40Kenji Kawase, “Chinese subsidies for Foxconn and Want Want spark outcry in Taiwan,” Nikkei Asia, April 30, 2019. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Chinese-subsidies-for-Foxcon….
- 41“Cher Wang controls TVBS: Apple Daily,” January 29, 2015, Taiwan News, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/2680061.
- 42Huang, Jaw-Nian, “The China Factor in Taiwan’s Media,” China Perspectives, 2017/3, http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/7388.
- 43Huang Cin-Ya, “王雪紅進駐TVBS董事會，第二大股東丁家被邊緣化？ [While Cher Wang joins in TVBS’s board of directors, whether the second-biggest shareholder, Ding Family, would be marginalized? ], The Journalist, November 02, 2018, https://www.storm.mg/article/588861?mode=whole.
- 44“中時社論》疫情明天過後，兩岸沒有明天,” [After the Epidemic There Will be No Tomorrow for Cross-Strait], China Times, March 4, 2020, https://www.chinatimes.com/opinion/20200304003545-262101?chdtv.
- 45Such as Want Want China Times Media Group and United Daily News Group who were both co-hosts of the “7th Cross Straits Media Summit,” November 2, 2015 https://www.fjsen.com/zhuanti/node_164116.htm
- 46This included staff from five televisions stations (CtiTV, China TV, TVBS, EBC), eight newspapers (such as China Times, United Daily News, Economic Daily News, Commercial Times), eleven radio stations (such as Best Radio, Taichung Radio, East Radio, M Radio), and seven digital outlets (such as ETtoday, China Times Net, CNEWS, Taiwan China Review News, Anue). The complete attendance list is available at Lin Yu-Cang, “2019兩岸媒體人北京峰會 臺灣媒體參訪團完整名單與汪洋講話全文” [2019 Cross-Strait Media Beijing Summit: The Complete List of Taiwan Media Delegations And The Full Text of Wang Yang’s Speech], HackMD, accessed July 05, 2022, https://hackmd.io/@billy3321/BJepntX3N?type=view.
- 47“Strait Media Summit”, “Cross-Strait Media Beijing Summit” (兩岸媒體人北京峰會, since 2015) and “World Internet Conference” (世界互聯網大會, since 2014) in China . Huang Jaw-Nian, “威權的跨境流動與消長：中國因素、雙重政商關係與臺灣媒體自我審查” [Authoritarianism’s Cross-Border Flows and Vicissitudes: The China Factor, Dual Government-Business Relations, and Taiwanese Media’s Self-Censorship], Wenti Yu Yanjiu (問題與研究), Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, accepted, forthcoming.
- 48Interview with Interviewee #01 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, September 29, 2021.
- 49Interview with Interviewee #01 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, September 29, 2021; Interview with Interviewee #04 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, October 29, 2021
- 50A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021.
- 51Interview with Interviewee #03 who requested anonymity, media editor in cross-strait affairs, October 22, 2021
- 52Interview with Hu, Yuan-Huei (胡元輝), Professor of the Department of Communication, National Chung-Cheng University, Chairman of Taiwan FactCheck Center Foundation, October 1, 2021.
- 53According to an All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots (中華全國臺灣同胞聯誼會) invitation in 2018. Interview with Interviewee #01 who requested anonymity, September 29, 2021. The related reports: “聚焦“一帶一路” 兩岸記者聯合採訪在烏魯木齊啟動” [Focus on "The Belt and Road Initiative" Joint Reporting by Cross-Strait Journalists Launched in Urumqi], China News Service (CNS), August 03, 2015, http://big5.taiwan.cn/local/yaowen/201508/t20150803_10387015.htm (https://archive.ph/qkP2f); “兩岸記者新疆行聯合採訪活動落幕,” [Cross-strait journalists' joint reporting activities in Xinjiang conclude], Xinhua, August 11, 2015, http://big5.taiwan.cn/local/guangdong_33203/dongtaixinwen/201508/t20150… (https://archive.ph/O3Zex). Interview with Interviewee #04 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, October 29, 2021.
- 54“中國調整對台認知作戰 培養台籍主播網紅,” [China adjusts to Taiwan's cognitive warfare, cultivates Taiwanese hosts and influencers], Central News Agency (CNA), February 20, 2021, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202102200211.aspx.
- 55“中國稱培訓臺灣網紅助就業 陸委會：政治操弄圖謀「舉世皆知」,” [China claims training Taiwanese internet celebrities to help find jobs The Mainland Affairs Council: “Political Manipulation is Known to the World”], Liberty Times, March 04, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/3456556.
- 56“國台辦旗下網站 辦台青電商培訓課,” [Taiwan Youth E-Commerce Training Course on the Website of the Taiwan Affairs Office], China Times, April 25, 2021, https://www.chinatimes.com/newspapers/20210425000092-260514?chdtv.
- 57Chung Li-Hua, Chen Yu-Fu, “中對台打認知戰 培訓台青當網紅,” [China fights cognitive war against Taiwan, trains Taiwanese youth to become influencers], Liberty Times, March 20, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/paper/1434350.
- 58Chung Li-Hua, Chen Yu-Fu, “中對台打認知戰 培訓台青當網紅,” [China fights cognitive war against Taiwan, trains Taiwanese youth to become influencers], Liberty Times, March 20, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/paper/1434350; Lin Chen-Yi, “兩岸青年論壇 袁家軍：展開服務台青「3個專項行動」,” [Cross-Strait Youth Forum Yuan Jiajun: Launch of "3 special actions" to serve Taiwanese youth], United Daily News, July 23, 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7331/5622244.
- 59“中國調整對台認知作戰 培養台籍主播網紅,” [China adjusts to Taiwan's cognitive warfare, cultivates Taiwanese hosts and influencers], Central News Agency (CNA), February 20, 2021, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202102200211.aspx; “新主播报到：百名两岸青年投身电商直播新业态,” [New anchor onboard: Hundreds of cross-strait youth join the new industry of live-streaming e-commerce], Xinhua, December 05, 2020, http://www.xinhuanet.com/tw/2020-12/05/c_1126826043.htm (https://archive.ph/I84uh).
- 60Wu Su-wei, William Hetherington, “Ministry working to fight Chinese cognitive warfare,” Taipei Times, November 8, 2021, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/11/08/2003767509.
- 61“中共對台疫苗論述分工：官方宣傳、官媒操弄,” [Communist Party of China's Vaccine Discourse on Taiwan Divides Work: Official Propaganda, Official Media Manipulation], Information Operation Research Group (IORG), September 30, 2021, https://iorg.tw/da/12.
- 62Jiang, Min-Yen (江旻諺) and Jie-Min Wu(吳介民), “「戰狼主旋律」變形入臺，解析關西機場事件的中國虛假資訊鏈 [The Transformed “Wolf Warriors Theme” Infiltrates Taiwan: The Analysis of China Disinformation Chain in Kansai Airport Incident],” The Journalist, Jan 24, 2020, https://www.storm.mg/article/2209084?mode=whole.
- 63Oiwan Lam, “TAIWAN: What Really Happened During the Kansai Airport Evacuation?,” Global Voices, September 28, 2018, https://international.thenewslens.com/article/105060 ; “Chinese Messaging Across the Strait,” Atlantic Council, December 2020, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/China-Taiwan… ; Chris Horton, “Specter of Meddling by Beijing Looms Over Taiwan’s Elections,” New York Times, November 22, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/world/asia/taiwan-elections-meddling…; “CYBER THREAT ACTIVITY TARGETING ELECTIONS,” FireEye, accessed July 19, 2022, https://www.fireeye.com/content/dam/fireeye-www/products/pdfs/pf/gov/eb….
- 64“Chinese Messaging Across the Strait,” Atlantic Council, December 2020, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/China-Taiwan… ; Nick Monaco, Melanie Smith, Amy Studdart, “Detecting Digital Fingerprints: Tracing Chinese Disinformation in Taiwan,” Institute for the Future’s Digital Intelligence Lab, Graphika, The International Republican Institute, August 2020, https://www.iri.org/sites/default/files/detecting_digital_fingerprints_….
- 65“Deafening Whispers China’s Information Operation and Taiwan’s 2020 Election,” Doublethink Lab (DTL), October 24, 2020, https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd.
- 66“中天變造美商務部長發言：250 萬莫德納疫苗功勞歸臺積電,” [CtiTV Altered The Speech From The US’s Secretary of Commerce: 2.5 million Modena Vaccine Credit Goes To TSMC], Information Operation Research Group (IORG), July 8, 2021, https://iorg.tw/da/5; Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), “2020國防科技趨勢報吿 [ 2020 Defense Technology Trend Assessment Report],” December 2020, https://indsr.org.tw/Download/2020%E7%A7%91%E6%8A%80%E5%B9%B4%E5%A0%B1%….
- 67“China’s division of labor on vaccine narratives against Taiwan: state’s propaganda & state media’s information manipulation,” Information Operation Research Group (IORG), September 30, 2021, https://iorg.tw/_en/da/12.
- 68“國臺辦稱6.2萬臺灣人到中國打疫苗 指揮中心：出境沒特別增加,” [Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council Said 62 thousand Taiwanese visit China to get vaccines CDC: Departure didn’t specially increase], ETtoday, June 15, 2021, https://www.ETtoday.net/news/20210615/2006970.htm.
- 69“The Chinese Infodemic in Taiwan,” Doublethink Lab, July 26, 2020, https://medium.com/doublethinklab/the-chinese-infodemic-in-taiwan-25e9a… ; Austin Wang, “中國Youtube假主播罷Q全面啟動,” [China fake Youtubers to launch recall against 3Q Chen Bo-Wei], Opinion.cw, https://opinion.cw.com.tw/blog/profile/462/article/11517.
- 70Tai-Li Wang, “Does Fake News Matter to Election Outcomes? The Case Study of Taiwan’s 2018 Local Elections,” Asian Journal for Public Opinion Research 8, no.2 (May 2020): 67-104, https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO202022449681018.pdf.
- 71Tseng Po-Yu (曾柏瑜), Chen Yun-Ju (陳韻如), “An analysis on the impact of false information on Taiwanese voters,” Doublethink Lab (DTL), May 06, 2021, https://medium.com/doublethinklab/an-analysis-on-the-impact-of-false-in….
- 72Chen Yu-Fu, “中國假訊息打入台灣 學者：用「說壞民主故事」改變認知,” [China's Fake Messages Hit Taiwan, Scholar: 'Tell Bad Democracy Stories' to Change Awareness], Liberty Times, October 20, 2020, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/3326654 ; “IORG 中國對台影響力作戰研究總體研究成果,” [IORG China's overall research results on influence operations against Taiwan], Information Operation Research Group (IORG), February 28, 2021, https://iorg.tw/r/2020.
- 73Websites blocked include: Liberty Times, Taiwan’s Apple Daily, Yahoo News, China Central News Agency, and United Daily News, see “中國防火長城下的臺灣媒體,” [Taiwanese media under the Great Firewall of China], United Daily News, April 06, 2015, https://udn.com/upf/newmedia/2015_data/20150327_udnfirewall/udnfirewall….
- 74Test conducted December 8, 2021 on Blocky, see “Test now : https://www.chinatimes.com,” Blocky, accessed July 19, 2022, https://blocky.greatfire.org/detail/380059/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.chinatimes….
- 75A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021.; Interview with Interviewee #04, former correspondent based in China, who requested anonymity, October 29, 2021.
- 76Interview with Interviewee #01, former correspondent based in China, who requested anonymity, September 29, 2021.
- 77According to his letter, CTiTV didn’t cover the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 2019 at all, the China Times website has no search results for “June 4 Tiananmen”, “Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution” or since June 2019, “Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests.” Su Wen-Chung, “中時記者離職前沉痛告白：旺旺集團離普世價值越來越遠，「正向臺灣人輸出謊言」,” [The reporter from China Times confessed painfully before leaving: Want Want Group is getting farther and farther away from universal values and “exporting lies to Taiwanese.”], Fount Media, June 21, 2019, https://www.fountmedia.io/article/20158.
- 78Chang Chin-Hwa, Chen Wan-Hsin, “從人權報導觀點分析五地十報新疆衝突報導框架,” [How Different Newspapers Cover Xingjian Conflicts from Human Right Perspective? A Frame Analysis of 10 Newspapers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Britain and Unites States], Mass Communication Research 125, 2015, pg. 1-47, https://www.airitilibrary.com/Publication/alDetailedMesh?DocID=10161007….
- 79“中天新聞臺換照遭否決，這是打壓新聞自由還是維護民主？你如何看？,” [The CtiTV’s license change was rejected. Is this suppressing press freedom or safeguarding democracy? What do you think?], Initium Media, November 18, 2020, https://theinitium.com/roundtable/20201118-roundtable-tw-CTi-news-renew….
- 80Alviani, Cédric, “中國追求的世界傳媒新秩序” [China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order], Reports Without Borders (RSF), March 2019, https://rsf.org/sites/default/files/cn_rapport_chine-web_final_2.pdf ; Li, Chia-Ai, “臺灣媒體生產政治中的中國因素與獨裁者邏輯：以C集團為例,” [China impact and dictatorship in the news production: a case study of Taiwanese media group], Master’s Thesis of National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu Taiwan: National Tsing Hua University, 2015, https://hdl.handle.net/11296/9a5u25.
- 81A survey of 149 Taiwanese journalists, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, November 4-20, 2019. Huang Jaw-Nian, Lin Yu-Shiuan, “中國因素影響下臺灣媒體人的日常抵抗：對民主防衛的啟示” [Taiwanese Journalists’ Everyday Resistance Against China’s Influence: An Implication for Defensive Democracy], Journal of Democracy and Governance, Department of Political Science at National Chung-Cheng University, pg.41-79, August 2020.
- 82Huang Jaw-Nian, “威權的跨境流動與消長：中國因素、雙重政商關係與臺灣媒體自我審查” [Authoritarianism’s Cross-Border Flows and Vicissitudes: The China Factor, Dual Government-Business Relations, and Taiwanese Media’s Self-Censorship], Wenti Yu Yanjiu (問題與研究), Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, accepted, forthcoming.
- 83Taiwan High Court Criminal Ruling 110 Kan-Tze 1058 (2021), https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FILES/TPHM/110%2c%e6%8a%97%2c1058%2c2021091….
- 84“Taiwan: Abusive libel suit against Financial Times correspondent,” Reports Without Borders (RSF), July 24, 2019, https://rsf.org/en/news/taiwan-abusive-libel-suit-against-financial-tim….
- 85“‘Financial Times’ defamation case dropped,” Taipei Times, March 12, 2021, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/03/12/2003753690.
- 86A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021.
- 87“紅媒未退，廠商先撤？自爆損失上億、恐消失在直播界[Red media has not withdrawn, the sponsor first withdraws? Self-destruction loss of hundreds of millions, might disappear in the live stream industry], The Storm Media, June 22, 2019, https://www.storm.mg/article/1411933.
- 88“為蔡英文幹爆中國！波特王不賺人民幣 「真的跪不下去」,” [Destroy China for Tsai Ing-wen! Potter King Refused to Earn RMB and Said “I Really Can’t Kneel Down.” ], Liberty Times, December 15, 2019, https://ent.ltn.com.tw/news/breakingnews/3010214.
- 89Feng Ziwei, “Taiwan’s Far Eastern Group bows to China after hefty fines,” Taiwan News, November 30, 2021, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4360495.
- 90Yang Sheng, Wang Qi, Chi Jingyi, “Chinese mainland punishes pro-secessionist Taiwan companies 'for better cross-Straits economic ties, to push reunification',” Global Times, November 23, 2021, https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202111/1239752.shtml (https://archive.ph/viOEi).
- 91“US and Taiwan hold first joint cyber-war exercise,” British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), November 4, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50289974 ; Jiang Min-Yan, “台美首次網攻演練 資安處：台每月遭攻擊3000萬次” [Taiwan and the United States’ first cyber attack drills, Information Security Office: Taiwan is attacked 30 million times a month],” Central News Agency (CNA), November 04, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201911045002.aspx; 2020 National Information Communication Security Situation Report, National Information and Communication Security Taskforce, June 29, 2021, pp. 1-16, https://nicst.ey.gov.tw/Page/7AB45EB4470FE0B9/7234b46b-fe52-4295-8bae-4….
- 92“遭受駭客攻擊！臺港蘋果日報App及網站服務受影響,” [Hacking attack! Taiwan and Hong Kong Apple Daily App and website services are affected], iThome, September 29, 2019, https://www.ithome.com.tw/news/133325.
- 93“中國網軍對台攻擊大揭密,” [Chinese Netizens Attack on Taiwan Revealed], PChome, July 01, 2014, https://news.pchome.com.tw/magazine/print/fi/WEALTH/10519/1404144000668….
- 94. A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021.
- 95U.S. Department of State, “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practice: Taiwan,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-prac….
- 96Teng Pei-Yu, “Causeway Bay Books founder attacked with paint in Taipei,” Taiwan News, April 21, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3920119.
- 97Simon Denyer, “The saga of Hong Kong’s abducted booksellers takes a darker turn,” The Washington Post, June 17, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/17/complete-l….
- 98Matthew Strong, “Taiwan court sentences attackers of HK bookseller to 3 to 4 months in jail,” Taiwan News, November 18, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4056500.
- 99Micah McCartney, “Hong Kong eatery reopens 3 weeks after being vandalized with manure,” Taiwan News, November 11, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4051106 ; “Four men indicted for restaurant poo attack,” Taipei Times, November 10, 2020, https://taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2020/11/10/2003746673.
- 100Ren Dong-Mei, “TaiHai Net, “抖音（TikTok）在臺灣崛起,” [The rise of TikTok in Taiwan], July 14, 2020, http://www.taihainet.com/news/twnews/twmzmj/2020-07-14/2405226.html (https://archive.ph/lSoZf).
- 101Isobel Asher Hamilton, “A Senior TikTok Executive Admitted the Company Used to Censor Content Critical of China, ‘Specifically with Regard to the Uighur Situation’,” Business Insider, November 5, 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/tiktok-censor-china-critical-content-ui….
- 102Emily Baker-White, “Leaked Audio From 80 Internal TikTok Meetings Shows That US User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed From China,” Buzzfeed, June 17, 2022, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/emilybakerwhite/tiktok-tapes-us-us….
- 103National Communications Commission (NCC), “109匯流發展調查” [109 Convergence Development Survey], March 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/21021/3734_45723_210217_2.pdf.
- 104Jason, “【排行榜】臺灣手機品牌最新排名 (2021 年 6 月銷售市占),” [Ranking List] The latest ranking of Taiwanese mobile phone brands (June 2021 sales market share)], ePrice, July 20, 2021, https://www.eprice.com.tw/mobile/talk/102/5660612/1/.
- 105Li Lauly, Cheng Ting-Fang, “Taiwan and US join forces on 5G security in move to exclude China,” Nikkei Asia, August 26, 2020, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Taiwan-and-US-… ; Frank Chen, “Taiwan flicks the switch off on Huawei,” Asia Times, July 22, 2020, https://asiatimes.com/2020/07/taiwan-flicks-the-switch-off-on-huawei/.
- 106“資通安全網路月報,”[Information Security Network Monthly Report], National Information & Communication Security Taskforce, January 15, 2021, https://nicst.ey.gov.tw/Page/8770AD7511CB8DC9/bcf867e8-5774-4675-8849-4….
- 107“中國資通產品 公務機關年底前全面禁用,” [China's information communication products will be completely banned in public agencies before the end of the year], Liberty Times, August 8, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/paper/1465530 ; Huang Xinwei, “中國資安戰新手法？高嘉瑜爆「區間測速設備」疑洗產地全面侵台” [A new approach of China's information security warfare? Kao Chia-yu exposes "interval speed measuring equipment" suspected to have washed origin to invade Taiwan] ], Storm Media, January 26, 2021, https://www.storm.mg/article/3423818?mode=whole ; Kao Chia-Yu (高嘉瑜), “資安戰新手法? 海康威視疑「洗產地」再度入侵臺灣 [The New Approach of Information Security Warfare? Hikvision Is Suspected of “Washing The Origin” to Invades Taiwan again],” Facebook post, January 26, 2021, https://www.facebook.com/ntufish/posts/10158841043448820.
- 108Kenji Kawase, “Chinese subsidies for Foxconn and Want Want spark outcry in Taiwan,” Nikkei Asia, April 30, 2019. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Chinese-subsidies-for-Foxcon…
- 109Huang Jaw-Nian, “威權的跨境流動與消長：中國因素、雙重政商關係與臺灣媒體自我審查” [Authoritarianism’s Cross-Border Flows and Vicissitudes: The China Factor, Dual Government-Business Relations, and Taiwanese Media’s Self-Censorship], Wenti Yu Yanjiu (問題與研究), Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, accepted, forthcoming.
Underlying media resilience
- Investigative media skills and dedicated China coverage: Taiwanese media outlets collectively have the resources and skills to conduct investigative reporting. However, these assets are distributed unequally depending on the type of outlet, with many television stations, newspapers, and websites adopting a “clickbait” approach for financial reasons.1 Despite the economic pressures affecting Taiwan’s media sector, a number of outlets have reported in depth on issues that the Chinese government aims to dismiss, such as the human rights situation in Xinjiang, protests in Hong Kong, and CCP political and media influence in Taiwan.2 Online news outlets like The Reporter (報導者) and Readr published several investigative reports in 2019–20 on the CCP’s global propaganda efforts.3 Taiwanese media outlets have correspondents based in China or dedicated to China-related reporting. CNA, China Times, United Daily News, TVBS, and ETtoday all have reporters on the ground in China.4 However, coverage of Chinese government policies depends in part on the political stance of the outlet. Pro-KMT or pro-unification media, such as China Times and United Daily News, tend to publish fewer reports that are critical of Beijing than do rival outlets like Apple Daily and Liberty Times, whose reporters are blocked from getting visas to China.5 At the same time, there is a noticeable difference between China Times and United Daily News, with the latter still reporting on issues like the detention of a Taiwanese human rights activist in China and the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.6
- Public pushback and refusal to join coproduction deals: Some Taiwanese media outlets have pushed back on CCP influence efforts. The chief editor of Liberty Times, a paper that is generally seen as backing the DPP and its pro-independence allies, indicated that she has declined offers from Chinese officials to undertake “cooperation projects,” and that Liberty Times continues to reject advertisements from China, including commercial ads that are allowed under law.7 In June 2019, China Times journalist Liao Zhao-xiang (廖肇祥) resigned in protest over that paper’s lack of coverage of certain topics. His open letter of resignation accused China Times of using the threat of dismissal to force journalists to produce propaganda content and urged the public to pay attention.8
- “Internal” and “everyday” strategies to resist censorship: According to the 2019 survey of 149 Taiwanese journalists, they have different strategies for addressing self-censorship or embedded CCP-linked advertising. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents said they have resorted to “internal resistance,” meaning they communicated or complained to their company or supervisor; 13 percent said they had engaged in “external resistance,” meaning they expressed their disagreement by participating in public petitions or protests. In addition, some have chosen to resign in protest: 36 percent chose to leave their company, while 13 percent chose to leave the media industry. Meanwhile, as many as 61 percent have resorted to “everyday resistance,” or resisting within the scope of their professional discretion, for instance by disobeying instructions, deliberately declining to take an action, or correcting content themselves.9
- New funding strategies for media outlets: Taiwanese media have been at the forefront in developing new funding strategies to mitigate the financial troubles affecting the media sector in many democracies, which the CCP often exploits. For example, the digital investigative news site The Reporter, founded in 2015, is a nonprofit run by The Reporter Cultural Foundation and it is funded by a grant from a local businessman as well as reader contributions.10 Another model has been adopted by the news and information platform Newtalk (新頭殼), operated by Pioneer Media Social Enterprise Co. Ltd. The shareholders are a group of lawyers, physicians, and intellectuals, and the enterprise is supported by small stock offerings, advertising, and content sales to online portals.11 The sector also includes independent public broadcasters. One such outlet, Public Television Service, received nearly 50 percent of its 2020 revenue from commissions for projects, usually from the Ministry of Culture, the legislature, or other public broadcasters; another 40 percent from government subsidies; and the remainder from donations and other sources.12
- Media training on CCP influence: While journalism programs at Taiwanese universities offer courses about Chinese media, cross-strait media, and journalistic ethics, few have dedicated courses on Chinese government efforts to influence foreign media. However, civic groups and NGOs that are concerned about Taiwanese media independence and professionalism have offered workshops or forums on the subject. For example, the Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award (卓越新聞獎基金會) holds an annual Asian Journalism Forum with 70 to 80 journalists and journalism students from across the Chinese-speaking world, including critical journalists from China.13 The forum covers topics such as Chinese media and how to report and conduct interviews in China.14 Separately, the Association for Quality Journalism (優質新聞發展協會), the Taiwan FactCheck Center (臺灣事實查核中心), and the Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award hold an annual workshop on fact-checking and investigative reporting. In 2020, the theme was Beijing’s information warfare.15
Civil society responses
- Leveraging a high degree of local expertise: Taiwan’s civil society features a high degree of expertise and knowledge on China, with numerous scholars and civic groups specializing in Chinese media influence. These include the China Impact Studies Research Team (中國效應主題研究小組) at the Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology and the Economic Democracy Union (經濟民主連合), which was born out of the Sunflower Movement and monitors Chinese-funded activities in Taiwan.16 The Mainland Affairs Council regularly consults with civil society experts who give policy recommendations to the government.17 Several Taiwanese civil society groups work on defending press freedom, improving media literacy, tracking disinformation, and countering fake news with fact-checking. Most are funded through private donations or through volunteer efforts.18 The Taiwan Journalists Association (臺灣新聞記者協會) plays a role in organizing and mobilizing collective action in the Taiwanese media sector. For instance, it was responsible for organizing a resolution at the International Federation of Journalists to condemn the United Nations policy of excluding Taiwanese media, among other solidarity actions.19 The Taiwan Media Watch Education Foundation (臺灣媒體觀察教育基金會) and the Association for Quality Journalism (優質新聞發展協會) work with professional journalists to improve the Taiwanese media environment, enhance journalistic ethics, promote media literacy education, and more recently, identify fake news and disinformation.20 The g0v (零時政府) movement is a grassroots social community that encourages citizens to participate in public affairs and influence the government by providing easy-to-read information and easy-to-use services.21 Two organizations, Doublethink Lab (臺灣民主實驗室) and Information Operations Research Group (IORG) (臺灣資訊環境研究中心), track and monitor Chinese disinformation.22 Taiwan FactCheck Center (臺灣事實查核中心) has been publishing fact-checking reports since July 2018.23 In 2021, it received a 1 million dollar donation from Google to support its work, and it has also partnered with Facebook.24 When the pandemic broke out in early 2020, Taiwan FactCheck Center and the International Fact-Checking Organization formed the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which was the largest cross-border fact-checking cooperation project.25 Other fact-checking agencies in Taiwan include MyGoPen, which collaborates with Facebook, Rumour and Truth and Cofacts.26 FakeNewsCleaner (假新聞清潔劑), another fact-checking group, has also held over 400 workshops to improve media literacy since it was founded in 2018.27 Independent media organization Watchout (沃草) works to provide citizens with tools and content to increase civic participation, including reporting on disinformation and producing handbooks and videos on how to spot it.28
- Development and expansion of media literacy programs: Civil society groups like IORG have held dozens of media literacy workshops to teach residents of all ages to recognize fake news and information manipulation and to utilize fact-checking platforms.29 From July 2020 to February 2021, IORG held 68 workshops in which more than 1,700 participants—including middle and high school students—practiced fact-checking, examined media content, and discussed fake news. Media literacy programs are now part of the Ministry of Education’s curriculum, and international companies like Google have donated to these programs.30
- “Anti-Red Media” awareness campaigns: Civil society has been instrumental in raising public awareness of CCP influence in the media. The term “red media” is used in Taiwan to describe Taiwanese-owned media that promote Beijing’s interests. In June 2019, legislator Huang Guo-chang (黃國昌) and the internet celebrity “Guan Chang” (館長), or Chen Zhi-han (陳之漢), held a demonstration titled “Reject the Red Media and Protect Taiwan’s Democracy” to protest Chinese infiltration of Taiwanese media and public opinion as well as the participation of Taiwanese media in cross-strait summits.31 The 2019 Anti-Red Media Movement, as it came to be called, crowdfunded and mobilized 50,000 protesters to pressure the government on adoption of legislation to curb “red media.”32 The movement called for an amendment (known as “Red Media Terms”) to the Cross-Strait Law and introduction of a Foreign Influence Transparency Act.33 The proposed legislation had not been passed at the time of writing.
- Robust legal protections: Taiwan’s judiciary is independent, and court rulings are generally free from political or other improper interference. The country has laws that restrict foreign ownership of media,34 political party ownership of radio and television broadcasters,35 and “vexatious proceedings”—a legal category similar to strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs).36 While such punitive defamation cases remain common, with the Want Want China Times Media Group and its owner Tsai Eng-meng among the most prolific litigants (see Censorship), the judicial authorities have repeatedly ruled against them. In June 2021, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office threw out Tsai’s complaint against three individuals who had discussed his agenda during a talk show and said it was CCP propaganda, finding that “the defendants had a basis for their opinions, and the topic was of public interest.”37 Another defamation suit against the journalist Chen Ning-guan was thrown out by the Taiwan High Court in September 2021.38 China Times lost a defamation case against former reporter Chen Zhi-dong in 2020, when the court ruled that his blog post calling the newspaper a “red guard poster” was an exercise of his right to free speech.39
- New and draft legislation on disinformation, foreign interference, and investment in media: In response to growing awareness of CCP disinformation and influence operations after the 2018 elections, the DPP introduced two bills to regulate foreign interference in Taiwan. In December 2019 it passed the Anti-Infiltration Act. The act went into effect in January 2020 weeks before the presidential election and despite heavy criticism from the KMT, which called it an example of “green terror” (referring to the DPP’s party color) designed to intimidate political opponents.40 Under the act, criminal penalties are increased if certain offenses surrounding elections, referendums, lobbying, and political donations are found to have been directed, financed, or commissioned by a “foreign hostile force”; middlemen who coordinate between the source of infiltration and their local agents also fall under the scope of the act.41 Violators of the law face a five-year prison sentence and a NT$10 million (US$334,000) fine. The government cited the activities of the CCP’s United Front Work Department as a reason for the law.42 After the passage of the act, pro-Beijing online media outlet Master Chain announced that it was ending its operations in Taiwan. Master Chain was reportedly the first Taiwanese media outlet that the Chinese government permitted to set up an office in China.43 Another bill, the draft Foreign Influence Transparency Act, was also introduced in 2019, but the KMT has been able to block it in the legislature, and it had not been enacted at the time of writing.44 The bill focuses on the registration and disclosure of local agents of foreign powers who perform specific activities in Taiwan, and was inspired by similar laws in the United States and Australia. Also in 2019, Taiwan’s legislature passed seven amendments in response to disinformation campaigns, including measures that increased criminal penalties for spreading disinformation, enforcement of which could prove problematic.45 Taiwan already has laws that impose liability for online content, such as the Social Order Maintenance Act of 1991.46 Lawmakers have also introduced legislation that would require Taiwanese media entities to disclose investments by shareholders to enhance transparency and expose any CCP-linked investment.47 The existing Cross-Strait Law and legislation known as the Measures Governing Investment Permit to the People of Mainland Area effectively ban investment in the media and other sectors by Chinese companies, and the government has enforced both laws. In September 2020, the Ministry of Economic Affairs ordered the streaming sites iQiyi, owned by the Chinese search-engine giant Baidu, and WeTV, owned by the Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent, to shut down their Taiwanese sites on the grounds that online streaming is not open to investment from mainland China under these two laws.48 Taiwanese users can still access the mainland Chinese versions of the sites, which are very popular.49
- Regulatory oversight: Taiwan’s media regulator, the National Communications Commission (NCC), is independent from the political leadership and has played a more active supervisory role since the end of 2018.50 The NCC has issued warnings to media outlets and handed down fines to CTiTV, EBC News, SET News, TVBS, and other stations for violating the fact-checking mechanism stipulated in Article 27 of the Satellite Broadcasting Law.51 In November 2020, after repeated warnings and fines issued over several years, the NCC decided not to renew the broadcast license of the pro-Beijing television channel CTi News; the channel shut down as a result.52 In July and November 2019, the NCC also investigated allegations that CTiTV, China TV, EBC News, and TVBS had accepted illegal CCP-linked funding and conducted propaganda activities for Beijing.53 In March 2019, the NCC closed a Taiwan-registered website (www.31t.tw) that was operated by a company under the direct management of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.54
- Cross-party opposition to CCP human rights violations: There is cross-party support for Taiwan’s democratic system and denunciation of the CCP’s human rights abuses. Party leaders and legislators from across the political spectrum have issued statements or spoken publicly to condemn human rights violations in China and Beijing’s crackdowns in Hong Kong. Han Kuo-yu, the Beijing-friendly KMT candidate in the 2020 presidential election, said Taiwan would adopt the CCP’s “one country, two systems” model for unification “over my dead body.”55 There is also significant popular support for a variety of groups that are persecuted by the Chinese state, including survivors of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and religious and ethnic minorities such as Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Hong Kong prodemocracy protesters. This support is evident in coverage of related press conferences, lawsuits, film screenings, and other public events.56
- DPP focus on Beijing’s influence: The political shift against Chinese influence that helped bring the DPP to power 2016 led to an escalation in CCP interference in the country’s governance, which in turn generated an even greater political pushback in response. There is a partisan divide on this issue, however, with the DPP in particular expressing more concern about the covert, corrupting, or coercive elements of Beijing’s influence in Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen and other DPP officials have repeatedly spoken out or enacted laws regarding CCP meddling in the media sector. In June 2019, the president said the Anti-Red Media Movement represented Taiwanese society’s worries about Chinese infiltration of Taiwanese media, and gave assurances that her administration and the legislature were trying to deal with disinformation coming from China.57 In May 2021, government spokesperson Luo Ping-chen (羅秉成) said that state security agencies were working to counter Beijing’s attempts to undermine local governance through “cognitive warfare.”58 Taiwan’s National Security Bureau also stated that it had a list of “fellow media,” meaning local media directed by Beijing, and that it would consider releasing the list if necessary.59
- Hearings on and response to CCP media influence: Legislators have opened inquiries or held hearings on the issue of CCP media influence. In October 2020, NCC's hearing examined CTiTV’s application for a broadcasting license and its potential impact on national security.60 In October 2019, DPP legislators held a hearing with external experts to solicit information on two draft bills, the Foreign Influence Transparency Law and the Cross-Strait Law.61 The legislature held a public hearing in November 2019 about the Anti-Infiltration Act, discussing how to establish a democratic defense mechanism against the activities of the CCP’s United Front Work Department.62 The government has also responded when Chinese state media outlets have strayed into political programming. In 2020, two journalists from Southeast TV were expelled from Taiwan for “illegally producing political programs,” in part by hiring a studio in Taiwan to invite Taiwanese politicians on a talk show to discuss current affairs.63 In April 2022, the Mainland Affairs Council announced a review of political talk shows on Xiamen Star to determine whether they had violated the Cross-Strait Law.64
- Government responses to CCP-linked disinformation: Government agencies have established initiatives to track disinformation, such as the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau’s Disinformation Prevention Center, which was established in August 2019 ahead of the January 2020 elections.65 In 2020, the National Security Bureau expanded its cybersecurity unit to cover disinformation related to foreign entities.66 At the end of 2019, the government created a new strategy to prevent and respond to disinformation through four basic steps: identify, clarify, restrain, and punish.67 As a result, nearly every department of the Taiwanese government has a Facebook page that it uses to swiftly debunk disinformation. Under the government’s “222 principle,” officials must clarify disinformation within two hours, using 200 words of text and two images, which makes the response easy to share and understand on social media.68 The government has also cooperated with the messaging platform Line to connect official clarifications on disinformation to the platform’s instant fact-checking Digital Responsibility Program.69
- Limited private-sector response: Taiwan’s private sector is one of its weakest links in terms of resistance to CCP influence. China is the country’s largest trading partner, with over 40 percent of Taiwanese exports in 2020 going to China or Hong Kong, and 22 percent of all imports coming from China and Hong Kong.70 However, in one instance of Taiwanese pushback against Chinese economic coercion, a social media campaign dubbed #freedompineapple went viral after Chinese authorities in February 2021 announced a ban on the import of Taiwanese pineapples.71 Taiwanese consumers quickly responded to the campaign, and within four days domestic orders of pineapples overtook the amount sold to China, with netizens using the hashtag to share recipes online.72
- Social media platforms’ response to disinformation: International social media companies have responded vigorously to CCP-linked disinformation targeting Taiwan. In March 2020, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, removed 60 accounts controlled by Chinese users that spread false information about COVID-19 in Taiwan and criticized the Taiwanese government’s handling of the pandemic.73 Though the accounts were not directly linked to the Chinese government, they were spreading pro-Beijing narratives. By the end of the following year, Meta announced it had removed nearly 600 Facebook accounts and 80 Instagram accounts linked to the Chinese-state that targeted users in Taiwan, the United States, and United Kingdom.74 Meta has also taken action on content farms in Taiwan. From October-December 2019, the company took down hundreds of Taiwanese content farm pages like Mission (密訊), KKnews, and Hssszn (讚新聞).75 They continued to crop up so Facebook changed its algorithm in October 2020 to lower the search-results rankings and exclude from news feed information pushed out from the content farms.76 Facebook dedicated resources to establish a Elections Operation Center, or so called “war room,” tasked with fighting disinformation surrounding Taiwan’s January 2020 presidential election, and it released a report about the experience later that year, titled “Defending Election Integrity in Taiwan.”77 The war room was considered a success and contributed to preventing CCP propaganda from influencing the outcome of the elections.78 Starting in January 2019, in a change to address global concerns about disinformation and reduce the impact of fake news, WhatsApp limited the frequency that users could forward messages, resulting in a 70 percent global drop in “highly forwarded” messages.79 Despite these actions, some specific to Taiwan and other more global, there remains concerns that platforms resist measures to enhance transparency and increased regulation.80
- 1Interview with Hwang, Chao-Hwei (黃兆徽), Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University, Former Manager of CTS News department, October 1, 2021.
- 2Interview with Lee, Chih-Te (李志德), Deputy Editor-in-chief of Cultural Division of Mirror Media, Former President of Association of Taiwan Journalists, September 24, 2021. See also, for example, Liu Chih-Hsin, “無聲的滅絕：新疆「再教育營」實錄,” [Silence Genocide: The Record of XinJiang Re-education Camp], The Reporter, August 2, 2019, https://www.twreporter.org/topics/xinjiang-re-education-camps ; Jeanavive Mcgregor, “新疆再教育營 Tell The World,” PTS Theme Night Show, 2019, https://viewpoint.pts.org.tw/ptsdoc_video/%E6%96%B0%E7%96%86%E5%86%8D%E… ; “中國再封殺臺灣蓮霧釋迦 陳其邁批打壓！急令農業局擴大照顧農民,” [China Bans Taiwan Wax Apples and Sakyamuni Again. Chen Qi-Mai Criticizes The Suppression and Urgently Ask The Bureau of Agriculture Expand The Welfare for farmers], Apple Daily, September 19, 2021, https://tw.appledaily.com/politics/20210919/Y3GJ3YTSXZAERJYLFHTBVU6DD4/.
- 3Liu Chih-Hsin, “駛向全球的中共大外宣機器，如何把「小粉紅」與「紅色App」武器化？,” [Grand External Propaganda Machine Going Global, How Does CCP Weaponize The “Little Pink” and The “Red App”? ], The Reporter, September 25, 2021, https://www.twreporter.org/a/information-warfare-business-cpc ; Chiu I-Hsuan, Lai Ou-Yu, “100天疫情推特戰：從中國外交部推文解讀大外宣布局” [100 Days War of Epidemic on Twitter: Recognize The Arrangement of Grand External Propaganda from The Tweets of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs], The Reporter, April 29, 2020, https://www.twreporter.org/a/covid-19-ccp-grand-external-propaganda-twi… ; “錢進來 人出去 中國讓你發大財！解密臺商領取的中國補助款” [Money comes in, people go out, China will make you rich! Reveal The Chinese Subsidies Received by Taiwanese Businessmen], READr, July 10, 2019, https://www.readr.tw/project/china-company.
- 4Interview with Interviewee #04 who requested anonymity, former correspondent based in China, October 29, 2021.
- 5Chang Chin-Hwa, Chen Wan-Hsin, “從人權報導觀點分析五地十報新疆衝突報導框架,” [How Different Newspapers Cover Xingjian Conflicts from Human Right Perspective? A Frame Analysis of 10 Newspapers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Britain and Unites States], Mass Communication Research 125, 2015, pg. 1-47, https://www.airitilibrary.com/Publication/alDetailedMesh?DocID=10161007….
- 6“李明哲喊話對岸「台灣中國一邊一國，就是這麼簡單」,” [Li Ming-chieh shouted to China: “Taiwan and China, each side of a country, that is it.”], United Daily News, May 10, 2022, https://udn.com/news/story/7331/6301809 ; “港大圍封六四標語 被批清洗歷史,” [HKU seals June 4 slogan, criticized for cleansing history], United Daily News, January 30, 2022, https://udn.com/news/story/7331/6070527.
- 7“One Country, One Censor: How China undermines media freedom,” Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), December 16, 2019, https://cpj.org/reports/2019/12/one-country-one-censor-china-hong-kong-….
- 8Liao Chao-Hsiang, “專論》怕變成「連自己都討厭的人」--一位剛離開旺中資深記者的心內話,” [Fear of becoming "a person who hates himself"--The inner words of a veteran journalist who has just left China Times], Newtalk, June 21, 2019, https://newtalk.tw/news/view/2019-06-21/262746?f=ntk&fbclid=IwAR2GpX0vH….
- 9A survey of 149 Taiwanese journalists, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, November 4-20, 2019. Huang Jaw-Nian, Lin Yu-Shiuan, “中國因素影響下臺灣媒體人的日常抵抗：對民主防衛的啟示” [Taiwanese Journalists’ Everyday Resistance Against China’s Influence: An Implication for Defensive Democracy], Journal of Democracy and Governance, Department of Political Science at National Chung-Cheng University, pg.41-79, August 2020.
- 10“《報導者》6周年：壯大非營利媒體，深耕社會影響力,” [The 6 anniversary of Reporters: Strengthen non-profit media and cultivate social influence], The Reporter, August 31, 2021, https://www.twreporter.org/a/sixth-anniversary.
- 11Summarized from the introduction on Social Enterprise Insights website: “Newtalk,” Social Enterprise Insights, accessed July 19, 2022, https://www.seinsights.asia/info/11/1977.
- 12“2020公視基金會年度報告,” [Public Taiwan Public Television Service Foundation Annual Report], Taiwan Public Television Service Foundation, June 2021, https://info.pts.org.tw/open/data/annual/2020_pts_year_rep.pdf.
- 13The Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award. Accessed July 23, 2022. https://www.feja.org.tw/
- 14Interview with Hu, Yuan-Huei (胡元輝), Professor of the Department of Communication, National Chung-Cheng University, Chairman of Taiwan FactCheck Center Foundation, October 1, 2021.
- 15“「2020 假新聞與事實查核工作坊」臺北場No.1,” [2020 The Workshop of Fake News and Fact Checking: Taipei Session No.1], The Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award, Aug 11, 2020, https://www.feja.org.tw/54361, https://www.feja.org.tw/54371.
- 16“經濟民主連合簡介,” [Introduction of Economic Democracy Union], Economic Democracy Union, accessed July 19, 2022, https://www.edunion.org.tw/.
- 17“本會組織,” [MAO’s Organization], Mainland Affairs Council Republic of China (Taiwan), accessed July 19, 2022, https://www.mac.gov.tw/cp.aspx?n=B7DDBFCACE3EB8F9.
- 18“Mission Report,” European Parliament, December 06, 2021, Pg. 4, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/INGE-CR-700443_EN.pdf.
- 19“國際記者聯盟決議 要求聯合國停止排除臺灣記者,” [IFJ’s Resolution Asks UN Stop Excluding Taiwan Journalists], Central News Agency (CNA), June 19, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201906190320.aspx; “IFJ 30th World Congress - Tunis,” International Federation of Journalists, 2019, https://www.ifj.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Urgentresolutions_IFJCongress….
- 20“關於我們,” [About Us], The Association for Quality Journalism (優質新聞發展協會), accessed July 19, 2022, https://aqj.org.tw/about.
- 21“gOv,” accessed September 25, 2021, https://g0v.tw/intl/en/.
- 22DoubleThink Lab (臺灣民主實驗室), accessed July 22, 2022, https://doublethinklab.org/; Information Operations Research Group (台灣資訊環境研究中心), accessed July 22, 2022, https://iorg.tw/_en.
- 23Jointly established by Taiwan Media Watch Education Foundation and the Association for Quality Journalism to promote fake news checks.
- 24“Mission Report,” European Parliament, December 06, 2021, Pg. 4, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/INGE-CR-700443_EN.pdf.
- 25“對抗不實資訊的臺灣模式：公私部門協力 展現活躍的公民能量,” [Taiwan Model Against Disinformation: Public and Private Sectors Collaborate to Show Active Citizen Energy],Taiwan FactCheck Center, May 7, 2021, https://tfc-taiwan.org.tw/articles/5393.
- 26Huang, Jaw-Nian, “China’s Propaganda and Influence Operations in Taiwan: A Sharp Power Perspective.” Manuscript, 2021, 25.
- 27“FakeNewsCleaner (假新聞清潔劑),” FakeNewsCleaner, accessed July 19, 2022, https://www.fakenewscleaner.tw/.
- 28“Watchout 沃草,” Watchout, accessed July 19, 2022, https://watchout.tw/.
- 29“68場資訊判讀工作坊：更有力的在地連結，更堅強的民主防衛,” [68 information interpretation workshops: stronger local connection, stronger democratic defense], Information Operations Research Group (IORG), August 30, 2021, https://iorg.tw/a/ce-2020.
- 30Hu Yuan-Huei, “網路不實訊息之影響與管制,” [The Influence and Control of Online Disinformation], The development trend and influence of new media, Taipei: CTCI Foundation, 2020, 69-89, https://www.ctci.org.tw/media/8619/2020-02-新媒體之發展趨勢與影響.pdf ; “你的 LINE、Facebook 被假資訊轟炸嗎？教育部推動分齡分眾宣導，積極防制假訊息,” [Are your LINE and Facebook bombed by disinformation? The Ministry of Education promotes media literacy for various types of audience, to prevent disinformation actively], Watchout, December 11, 2019, https://musou.watchout.tw/read/esktizpDQGL6CuXEgIPg ; “Google donates US$1 million to fund media literacy initiatives in Taiwan,” CNA English News, November 4, 2021, https://focustaiwan.tw/sci-tech/202111040022.
- 31Huang, Jaw-Nian, “China’s Influence on Taiwan’s Media: A Model of Transnational Diffusion of Chinese Censorship,” in China’s Influence and the Center-Periphery Tug of War in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indo-Pacific, ed. Brian C. H. Fong, Jieh-min Wu, and Andrew J. Nathan (New York: Routledge, 2020), 205–23 ; Cheng Chung-Lan, “ 臺灣「反紅媒」抗議凸顯世代對立的信任危機,” [Taiwan Anti-Red Media Demonstration the Trust Crisis Between the Generations ], British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), June 25, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/world-48753290.
- 32Ann Maxon, “Thousands protest pro-China media,” June 24, 2019, Taipei Times, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2019/06/24/2003717475.
- 33“避免境外勢力滲透 學者：資訊揭露是重點,” [Avoid infiltration from foreign forces. Scholars: Information disclose is the key point], Radio Taiwan International, October 22, 2019, https://www.rti.org.tw/news/view/id/2038725.
- 34Article 9 Paragraph 4 of the Cable Broadcasting and Television Law stipulates that “Total direct and indirect foreign investment in a company operating a cable radio and/or television system shall be less than 60 percent of the total shares issued by the company. Direct foreign shareholding is limited to legal entities; the total shares directly held by foreign shareholders shall not exceed 20 percent of the total shares issued.” “有線廣播電視法,” [Cable Broadcasting and Television Law], Law 9/4 (1993), National Communications Commission (NCC), accessed July 19, 2022, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=P0050008. Article 4 Paragraph 4 of Satellite Broadcasting Act stipulates that “The total shares of a satellite broadcasting business directly held by foreign shareholders shall be less than 50% of the total shares issued by the said business.” “衛星廣播電視法,” [Satellite Broadcasting Act], Law 4/3 (1999), National Communications Commission (NCC), accessed July 19, 2022, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=P0050013.
- 35“廣播電視法,” [Radio and Television Act], Law 5-1 (revised in 2016), National Communications Commission (NCC), 2016, https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=P0050001.
- 36“不要再惡意亂告了 民眾濫訴可罰12萬元,” [Stop filing lawsuits with malice. People may be fined 120 thousand dollars for vexatious proceedings], Central News Agency (CNA), February 13, 2021, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/asoc/202102130028.aspx.
- 37Jason Pan, “Tsai Eng-meng’s lawsuit for defamation tossed out,” Taipei Times, June 26, 2021, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/06/26/2003759834.
- 38“臺灣高等法院110年度抗字第1058號刑事裁定,” [No.1058 Criminal Judge of Taiwan High Court in 2021], Taiwan High Court, September 13, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/default.aspx.
- 39“記者批《中時》「頭版如紅衛兵大字報」 挨告判免賠,” [The Reporter doesn’t have to Compensate for Blaming China Times’ Front Pages became the red guards’ posters, According to the Judge], Apple Daily, March 17, 2020, https://tw.appledaily.com/local/20200317/ZPUQIAMBFRWV7KCIXRQ4MRJB7U/.
- 40“Legislative Yuan Passes Anti-Infiltration Bill to Strengthen Defense for Democracy and Preserve Stable and Orderly Cross-Strait Exchanges,” Mainland Affairs Council, December 31, 2019 https://www.mac.gov.tw/en/News_Content.aspx?n=2BA0753CBE348412&s=88E5E1… ; Matthew Strong, “Taiwan Legislative Yuan approves Anti-Infiltration Act aimed at China,” December 31, 2019, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3847852.
- 41“Deafening Whispers China’s Information Operation and Taiwan’s 2020 Election,” Doublethink Lab (DTL), October 24, 2020, pg.91, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FW35t93GvMJ3W6rqbPhAm6lNZ4uy66jD/view.
- 42“Legislative Yuan Passes Anti-Infiltration Bill to Strengthen Defense for Democracy and Preserve Stable and Orderly Cross-Strait Exchanges,” Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), December 31, 2019, https://www.mac.gov.tw/en/News_Content.aspx?n=2BA0753CBE348412&s=88E5E1…
- 43“「大師鏈」批政府濫用法令 急宣布放棄臺灣市場,” [Master Chain Blames Government Abusing the Law and Announces to Give up Taiwan Market], Liberty Times, December 31, 2019, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/3025948.
- 44Chien Hui-Ju, Jonathan Chin, “KMT sidelines foreign influence bill,” Taipei Times, March 15, 2021, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/03/15/2003753863.
- 45The government amended the “Agricultural Products Market Transaction Act”, “Food Administration Act”, “Communicable Disease Control Act”, “Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation“, “Disaster Prevention and Protection Act” to add the responsibilities of the people who spread disinformation. The “Criminal Law”, “Criminal Code of the Armed Forces” were revised to increase the criminal responsibility for spreading disinformation. Hu Yuan-Huei, “網路不實訊息之影響與管制,” [The Influence and Control of Online Disinfomaiton],” The development trend and influence of new media, Taipei: CTCI Foundation, February 2020, 69-89, https://www.ctci.org.tw/media/8619/2020-02-新媒體之發展趨勢與影響.pdf.
- 46Under the Act, online users can be penalized for "spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace" with up to three days of detention or a fine of no more than NT$30,000 (US$1,050). There is some criticism that the law is a remanent of the authoritarian martial law era, though Taiwanese courts have narrowly enforced it in order to protect freedom of expression. Shih-Shiuan Kao, “Taiwan’s Response to Disinformation: A Model for Coordination to Counter a Complicated Threat,” National Bureau of Asian Research Special Report no. 93, September 16, 2021, pg. 12, https://www.nbr.org/publication/taiwans-response-to-disinformation-a-mo….
- 47The NCC proposed drafts of the Media Monopoly Prevention and Multivariate Maintenance Law in 2017 and 2019. According to the bills, news channels should regularly disclose information about the investments of their major shareholders (those who hold stakes of more than 10 percent) and the sources of their advertising revenue. Violators would be fined NT$100,000 to NT$1 million. However, the bill had not been passed at the time of writing. “《媒體壟斷防制與多元維護法》草案總說明,” [The Explanation of Media Monopoly Prevention and Multivariate Maintenance Bill ], National Communications Commission (NCC), July 12, 2017, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/17071/3926_37605_170712_1.pdf. Interview with Hung, Chen-Ling (洪貞玲), Director of The Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University, Former NCC’s Commissioner, October 18, 2021.
- 48Vivienne Chow, “Taiwan Confirms Ban on Chinese Streaming Firms iQIYI and Tencent,” Variety, August 19, 2020, https://variety.com/2020/streaming/asia/taiwan-ban-china-streaming-serv….
- 49Vivienne Chow, “Chinese Streamer iQiyi Ready to Halt Taiwan Operations,” Variety, November 02, 2021, https://variety.com/2021/biz/asia/iqiyi-ready-to-halt-taiwan-operations….
- 50“Introduction of The National Communications Commission,” National Communications Commission (NCC), accessed September 25, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/english/content.aspx?site_content_sn=284&is_hist….
- 51Huang, Jaw-Nian, “China’s Propaganda and Influence Operations in Taiwan: A Sharp Power Perspective.”, Manuscript, 2021, 25.
- 52“Taiwan Shuts Down Pro-China CTi News,” The News Lens International, November 19, 2020, https://international.thenewslens.com/article/143510.
- 53Huang, Jaw-Nian, “China’s Propaganda and Influence Operations in Taiwan: A Sharp Power Perspective.” Manuscript, 2021, 25.
- 54Huang, Jaw-Nian, “China’s Propaganda and Influence Operations in Taiwan: A Sharp Power Perspective.” Manuscript, 2021, 25.
- 55Minnie Chan, Kristin Huang, Matt Ho, “How the storm over Hong Kong’s extradition bill battered Beijing’s ‘one country, two systems’ ambitions for Taiwan,” South China Morning Post, June 22, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3015578/how-storm-over….
- 56For example, Tsai Ing-wen wished the Dalai Lama a happy birthday on twitter, see: Tsai Ing-Wen (@iingwen), “Wishing a very happy 86th birthday to His Holiness the @DalaiLama. Thank you for teaching us the importance of coming together to help one another through this pandemic.,” Twitter, July 06, 2021, https://twitter.com/iingwen/status/1412309303860469761?lang=en ; The Taiwan legislature held a hearing on rights abuses against Uyghurs, see: “立法院人權促進會「維吾爾議題國際公聽會」,” [International Public Hearing on “Uyghur Issues” by the Legislative Yuan Human Rights Advocates], YouTube video, July 30, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lj4FzaUCVY&t=1s ; Tsai Ing-wen tweeted support of the documentary about the Hong Kong protests, Revolution of our Times, see: Tsai Ing-Wen (@iingwen), “Revolution of Our Times @RoOT_film, a film documenting the democracy movement in #HongKong, is now showing in #Taiwan.,” Twitter, March 10, 2022, https://twitter.com/iingwen/status/1501713549319876612 ; and as of 2020, Taiwan is the only place in the Chinese-speaking world to hold an officially-supported June Fourth Tiananmen Massacre memorial. See: Micah McCartney, Chris Chang, “Taiwan hosts only Tiananmen Square Massacre memorial in Chinese-speaking world,” Taiwan News, June 04, 2021, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4216559.
- 57“凱道反紅媒遊行 總統：提高對中國滲透媒體醒覺,” [President said Anti-Red Media Movement Could Raise The Awareness of China’s Infiltration in Taiwanese Media], Central News Agency (CNA), June 23, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201906230106.aspx?topic=1722.
- 58Lai Yu-Chen, “ 政院：中國藉疫情對臺發動認知作戰 積極查辦,” [Executive Yuan: China Took Advantage of Epdimic to Launch The Cognitive Warfare against Taiwan. The Officials Would Investigate positively], Central News Agency (CNA), May19, 2021, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202105190202.aspx.
- 59You Kai-Siang, “國安局：中共對臺灣同路媒體放消息帶風向,” [National Security Bureau: CCP offer the information and guide the public opinion to their “fellow media” in Taiwan], Central News Agency (CNA), May 2, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201905020068.aspx.
- 60“公告「中天電視股份有限公司申請換發中天新聞臺衛星廣播電視事業執照案」召開聽證會,” [The hearing about CtiTV’s application of renewal the license of Satellite Broadcasting and Television Business], National Communications Commission (NCC), October 5, 2020, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=37&sn_f….
- 61“避免境外勢力滲透 學者：資訊揭露是重點,” [Avoid infiltration from foreign forces. Scholars: Information disclose is the key point], Radio Taiwan International, October 22, 2019, https://www.rti.org.tw/news/view/id/2038725.
- 62“立法院第9屆第8會期內政委員會「反滲透相關法制立法」公聽會,” [The Public Hearing of “Anti-Infiltration Related Legislation” Held by the Internal Administration Committee of Legislative Yuan, in The 8th Session of 9th Appointed Date], Legislative Yuan, November 28, 2019, https://www.ly.gov.tw/Pages/Detail.aspx?nodeid=33431&pid=190387.
- 63Chiu Chun-Chin, “東南衛視駐台記者違規被廢證 中午離境,” [Southeast Television's correspondent in Taiwan was disqualified for violating the law and left the country at noon.], Central News Agency (CNA), July 03, 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202007030066.aspx ; Lai Yan-Xi, “陸委會：陸媒勿在台製播節目 違者依法處理,” [MAC: Chinese media do not produce and broadcast programs in Taiwan, offenders are dealt with according to the law], Central News Agency (CNA), November 19, 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202011190308.aspx.
- 64Chen Yu-Fu, William Hetherington, “MAC to probe Chinese station over talk shows,” Taipei Times, April 10, 2022, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/04/10/2003776336.
- 65“調查局成立假訊息防制中心維護國家安全及公平選舉,” [Investigation Bureau Establish Disinformation Prevention Center to Protect National Security and The Fairness of Elections], Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau, Aug 16, 2019, https://www.mjib.gov.tw/news/Details/1/501. In April 2020, The center was upgraded to the “Information Security Workstation of Investigation Bureau.” “法務部調查局資安工作站正式揭牌,” [“Information Security Workstation” in Investigation Bureau Officially Unveiled to Work], Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau, April 24, 2020, https://www.mjib.gov.tw/news/Details/1/600.
- 66“防中國假訊息 國安局增列工作職掌強化應處,” [Preventing China’s disinformation Campaign, the National Security Bureau expands duties and strengthens its response], Central News Agency (CNA), July 7, 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/202007070193.aspx.
- 67Hu Yuan-Huei, “網路不實訊息之影響與管制,” [The Influence and Control of Online Disinformation],” The development trend and influence of new media, Taipei: CTCI Foundation, 2020, 69-89, https://www.ctci.org.tw/media/8619/2020-02-新媒體之發展趨勢與影響.pdf.
- 68Cheng Yu-Chung, “社交媒體假訊息的操作模式初探: 以兩個臺灣政治傳播個案為例,” [Exploring the Operation Modes of Disinformation on Social Media: Two Political Disinformation Cases in Taiwan], Chinese Journal of Communication Research 39 (June 2021): 3-41, http://cjctaiwan.org/word/47326242021.pdf ; “LINE TODAY謠言破解專區上線 政院222原則迎戰打假,” [LINE TODAY Establish Rumor-Busting Column, Executive Yuan Announced “222 principle” fight against disinformation], Radio Taiwan International, July 22, 2019, https://www.rti.org.tw/news/view/id/2028214.
- 69William Yang , “假訊息的危害與因應,” [The Damages and Solutions of Fake News], Prospect and Explorations 17, no. 12 (December 2019): 95-116, https://www.mkcity.gov.tw/uploaddowndoc?file=msg/202001171728110.pdf&fi… ; “政院：公私協力推動事實查核 守護臺灣言論自由與民主價值,” [Executive Yuan: Public-private cooperation promotes fact-checking to protect Taiwan’s freedom of speech and democratic values], Executive Yuan, March 28, 2019, https://www.ey.gov.tw/Page/9277F759E41CCD91/680d80f3-7324-4886-a883-a3c….
- 70“Annual External Trade Report in 2020,” Ministry of Finance, 2020, https://service.mof.gov.tw/public/Data/statistic/bulletin/109/2020.pdf.
- 71Lin Chia-Nan, “PRC bans import of Taiwan pineapples,” February 27, 2021, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/02/27/2003752913.
- 72Yang Yuan-ting, William Hetherington, “China pineapple ban offset in four days,” Taipei Times, March 03, 2021, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/03/03/2003753138 ; Owian Lam, “Pineapple recipes flood Taiwan's social media after China bans imports,” Global Voices, March 02, 2021, https://globalvoices.org/2021/03/02/pineapple-recipes-flood-taiwans-soc….
- 73Wu Chia-Hao, “中國網軍散播武漢肺炎假消息 臉書下架逾60個帳號,” [Chinese cyber army spreads fake news about COVID-19, Facebook removes more than 60 accounts], Central News Agency, March 13, 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202003130322.aspx.
- 74Nathaniel Gleicher, “Meta’s Adversarial Threat Report,” Meta, December 1, 2021, https://about.fb.com/news/2021/12/metas-adversarial-threat-report/.
- 75William Kung (孔德廉) Ko Hao-hsiang (柯皓翔) Jason Liu (劉致昕) and Hsu Chia-yu (許家瑜), “Uncovering The Money And China Factor Behind “Mission” – Taiwan’s Most Controversial Content Farm,” The Reporter, July 24, 2020, https://www.taiwangazette.org/news/2020/7/22/uncovering-the-money-and-c….
- 76“Deafening Whispers China’s Information Operation and Taiwan’s 2020 Election,” Doublethink Lab (DTL), October 24, 2020, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FW35t93GvMJ3W6rqbPhAm6lNZ4uy66jD/view.
- 77“Defending Election Integrity in Taiwan, ” Facebook, August 2020, https://www.tca.org.tw/files/Facebook%20Taiwan%20Election%20Report%20EN….
- 78Judit Bayer et al., “Disinformation and propaganda: impact on the functioning of the rule of law and democratic processes in the EU and its Member States,” European Parliament, April 2021, Pg. 93, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/653633/EXPO_STU…
- 79“防假消息擴散 Whatsapp「1則訊息限轉發5次」,” [Whatsapp Limits One Message Can Only Be Forwarded 5 Times to Prevent Disinformation Spreading], CTS News, Jan 22, 2019, https://news.cts.com.tw/cts/life/201901/201901221949702.html ; Manish Singh, “Whatsapp's new limit cuts virality of "highly forwarded" messages by 70%,” TechCrunch, April 27, 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/04/27/whatsapps-new-limit-cuts-virality-of-….
- 80Shih-Shiuan Kao, “Taiwan’s Response to Disinformation: A Model for Coordination to Counter a Complicated Threat,” National Bureau of Asian Research Special Report no. 93, September 16, 2021, pg. 17, https://www.nbr.org/publication/taiwans-response-to-disinformation-a-mo….
- Weak press council tasked with handling complaints: Taiwan has an independent press council, the Republic of China News Review Council (中華民國新聞評議委員會), that deals with complaints against media outlets through investigations and hearings. Despite its reputation and efforts, the council’s power is limited; it receives few complaints each year, and it lacks the authority to compel outlets to undertake remedial action.1 The press council has not issued any guidance on ethical standards or best practices for engagement with foreign state media.
- Lack of legislation on cross-ownership and regulations on transparency: Despite a degree of political momentum stemming from a 2012–13 campaign against media monopolies, draft legislation that would prohibit monopolies and limit cross-ownership of outlets in different media formats has stalled in the legislature.2 The Foreign Influence Transparency Law is still in draft form at the time of writing and there are concerns over weak enforcement of the Anti-Infiltration Act.
- Partisan divisions over CCP influence: Opposition politicians from the KMT, which generally supports closer relations with China, have denounced efforts by President Tsai and the DPP to respond to CCP interference in Taiwan’s media and democracy.3 Pro-KMT or pro-unification media tend to publish fewer reports that are critical of Beijing. The KMT has opposed measures like the Anti-Infiltration Act, warning that they could be used in a politicized manner and violate fundamental rights.4 KMT leaders also denounced the NCC’s decision to revoke the broadcast license of CTi News, arguing that it violated free speech guarantees and was an attempt by the DPP to suppress political rivals.5
- Lack of business resistance to advertising pressure: While outspoken outlets such as Apple Daily and Liberty Times are unlikely to receive advertising money from Chinese state-linked companies, there has been little research on businesses’ refusal to accept CCP-linked advertising funds. None of the 13 Taiwanese journalists who responded to the survey conducted for Freedom House in late 2021 could point to any Taiwanese businesses that avoided advertising or investing in pro-Beijing media.6
- 1“社團法人中華民國新聞媒體自律協會章程,” [Constitution of National Press Council], National Press Council (中華民國新聞媒體自律協會), November 29, 2016, http://www.xn--fiq46nqybr7dy7ug1bx8o7l6bxygejr70c.tw/%E5%8D%94%E6%9C%83…. Interview with Hu, Yuan-Huei (胡元輝), Professor of the Department of Communication, National Chung-Cheng University, Chairman of Taiwan FactCheck Center Foundation, October 1, 2021.
- 2“Taiwan blocks anti-media monopoly bill, raising fears for press freedom,” Reuters, January 11, 2013, https://www.reuters.com/article/taiwan-media/taiwan-blocks-anti-media-m….
- 3Shih Hsiao-Kuang, “Ma calls on US to ‘keep an eye on’ CtiTV hearing,” Taipei Times, October 18, 2020, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2020/10/18/2003745372.
- 4Matthew Strong, “Taiwan Legislative Yuan approves Anti-Infiltration Act aimed at China,” Taiwan News, December 31, 2019, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3847852 ; Some KMT legislators like the New Taipei City mayor Han You-Yi said he viewed it positively it the law could protect Taiwan‘s national security, “韓國瑜狂轟"反滲透法" 侯友宜:我是樂觀其成,” [Han Kou-Yu bombarded the " anti-infiltration law " Hou You-Yi: “I am optimistic about it.,”], CTS News, December 27, 2019, https://news.cts.com.tw/cts/politics/201912/201912271985643.html.
- 5Brian Hoie, “KMT Likely to Make CtiTV’s Operations License Renewal into a Contested Issue,” New Bloom Magazine, October 24, 2020, https://newbloommag.net/2020/10/24/ctitv-license-renewal/.
- 6A survey of 13 Taiwanese journalists specializing in China affairs, conducted by Jaw-Nian Huang, September-October, 2021.
The overall impact of Beijing’s media influence in Taiwan is limited, due in part to the multisector response and widespread awareness of the issue in Taiwanese society. The country already has strict rules on Chinese investment in domestic media, though these barriers do not fully block CCP efforts to shape the media landscape. Chinese media and pro-Beijing Taiwanese media have low credibility in Taiwan, and recent civil society–led efforts have exposed CCP-linked tactics for manipulating news content. Taiwan’s robust civil society, and the highly publicized resignations of journalists, have done a great deal to raise awareness of CCP influence operations and push for a response. The CCP itself, by resorting to a heavy-handed approach in its propaganda, disinformation, and censorship, has alienated Taiwanese news consumers and generated greater public concern about manipulated content. Taiwanese government countermeasures, such as fact-checking reports and the 222 principle for responding to disinformation, have been positively received. Some 70 percent of Taiwanese said fact-checking could weaken the effect of fake news, according to a March 2021 poll.1
CCP influence efforts, combined with Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong, have largely backfired with respect to Taiwanese public opinion on the Chinese government and the idea of unification, instead pushing many Taiwanese citizens to favor closer relations with the United States. Polls showed that Taiwanese opposition to Beijing’s “one country, two systems” formula for unification jumped from 75.4 percent in January 2019 to 85.6 percent in November 2021.2 Another annual survey showed that the number of Taiwanese who view the Chinese government as friendly is decreasing, while the number of Taiwanese who view the Chinese government as an enemy is increasing.3 According to a June 2020 Pew Research Center poll, Taiwanese respondents are more supportive of greater economic engagement with the United States (85 percent) than with China (52 percent).4 Following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, and comparisons of a potential invasion of Taiwan by China, a public opinion poll in April 2022 found a slight majority of Taiwanese respondents tend to support the independence of Taiwan..5
CCP disinformation in Taiwan has also caused the public to become more aware of the threat posed by manipulated information and “red media.” According to a poll conducted by the China Impact Studies Research Team at Academia Sinica in 2021, 71.4 percent of Taiwanese respondents agreed that the “Taiwan government should regulate news media if they are used by Chinese government to conduct its propaganda,” and slightly more (72.1 percent) called for regulation in relation to social media.6
However, disinformation targeting Taiwan has become more refined and unpredictable. While opinion polls show that a majority of respondents do not believe the false information injected into Taiwanese media, it still has a significant impact, muddying the waters and increasing uncertainty as to whether certain points of information are true or false. For example, according to an opinion poll conducted in September 2019, 24.6 percent and 25.7 percent of respondents answered “yes” or “don’t know/no opinion,” respectively, to the question of whether there was a problem with the authenticity of Tsai Ing-wen’s doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics. This false narrative, amplified by CCP-linked actors in 2019, gained enough traction to sway public opinion.7 In a poll conducted in 2020, the share of respondents who either continued to believe that Tsai’s doctorate was not real or had no opinion persisted at 37 percent.8
- 1“假新聞瀰漫 民調：8成民眾相信政府與媒體報導,” [Fake News Flooded. Poll: 80% people believe the government and media reports], Commercial Times, March 26, 2021, https://ctee.com.tw/livenews/ch/chinatimes/20210326003962-260405.
- 2Polls conducted by Mainland Affairs Council, November 10-14, 2021, https://ws.mac.gov.tw/001/Upload/295/relfile/7837/77357/8845a1ea-6ff5-4….
- 3China Impact Survey conducted by the “China Impact Studies Research Team” (中國效應主題研究小組) at the Institute of Sociology at the Academia Sinica. The statistics are provided by Jaw-Nian Huang, a research team member for China Impact Studies.
- 4Kat Devlin, Laura Silver and Christine Huang, “In Taiwan and across the region, many support closer economic ties with both US and mainland China,” Pew Research Center, June 10, 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/10/in-taiwan-and-across-t….
- 5Keoni Everington, “Majority of Taiwanese now want independence amid Ukraine war,” Taiwan News, April 26, 2022, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4519642.
- 6China Impact Survey conducted by the “China Impact Studies Research Team” (中國效應主題研究小組) at the Institute of Sociology at the Academia Sinica. The statistics are provided by Jaw-Nian Huang, a research team member for China Impact Studies.
- 7You Tsun-Ren, “台灣民意基金會民調》蔡英文博士論文爭議 近5成民眾不相信有問題,” [Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation: Tsai Ing-wen's Doctoral Dissertation Controversy, Nearly 50% of the Public Do Not Believe There is A Problem], Newtalk, September 24, 2019, https://newtalk.tw/news/view/2019-09-24/302559 ; Chu Kuan-Yu, “台灣民意基金會民調》蔡英文博士論文有問題？逾5成民眾不相信!,” [Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation: Tsai Ing-wen’s Doctoral Dissertation Has A problem? More than 50% of the People Do Not Believe It.], The Storm Media, October 28, 2019, https://www.storm.mg/article/1873285.
- 8China Impact Survey conducted by the “China Impact Studies Research Team” (中國效應主題研究小組) at the Institute of Sociology at the Academia Sinica. The statistics are provided by Jaw-Nian Huang, a research team member for China Impact Studies.
The following are potential developments related to Beijing’s media influence in Taiwan that should be closely monitored in the coming years.
- Local online influencers masking CCP narratives: The Chinese government likely mobilize more local collaborators to carry out propaganda and disinformation campaigns online. Some influencers may be used unwittingly, with the CCP employing multiple proxies to mask the effort’s origins, as there is a growing understanding that narratives coming directly from Beijing have little traction. CCP-linked actors could develop more sophisticated tactics to target Taiwanese users, employing big-data analysis of social media accounts to understand the preferences, interests, and ideological tendencies of Taiwanese people.
- Meddling in elections and dividing public opinion: The CCP’s attempts to interfere in Taiwan’s democratic elections are unlikely to recede, and significant media manipulation efforts should be expected ahead of upcoming local and national balloting, even if there is a great awareness in Taiwanese society towards such tactics. Beijing will probably seize on the January 2024 presidential election—in which Tsai Ing-wen will not run due to term limits—as an opportunity to further divide public opinion through disinformation and other tactics.
- Implementation of legislation on CCP influence: Long-standing Taiwanese laws like the Cross-Strait Act ban on CCP-linked propaganda and direct media investment in the country are important, but Beijing has successfully used proxies and local collaborators to reach Taiwanese news consumers, presenting the government with the challenge of regulating such activity without violating press freedom or freedom of speech. New legislation on foreign interference or amendments to existing laws would strengthen transparency mechanisms, including deeper reviews of shareholders investing in local companies, and foreign agents operating in the country. It remains to be seen whether these bills, once enacted, can be implemented in a way that counters CCP influence while protecting fundamental rights and diverse political viewpoints. There are concerns that the draft Foreign Influence Transparency Act, if enacted, could create a chilling effect on the freedom of individuals or media outlets to promote candidates or policies supported by Beijing; limit Taiwanese entrepreneurs’ rights to invest in and operate Taiwanese media organizations; label Taiwanese media owners as CCP collaborators; and stifle freedom of expression.
- Greater protection for independent and diverse media: Taiwan’s government should dedicate greater resources to ensuring the existence and sustainability of an independent and diverse media sector, for instance by sponsoring an independent fund to support independent and pluralistic news outlets. The government could also establish a reasonable profit-sharing model between traditional media and online or social media to promote the long-term development and diversity of traditional media, address distortions and inequities in the information market, and ensure healthy competition across formats and platforms. Furthermore, more dedicated funding should be provided for public education and awareness around media literacy, especially non-news media such as celebrities and influencers pushing CCP narratives for market access or financial reasons.
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Global Freedom Score94 100 free
Internet Freedom Score79 100 free