Driving around Pingtung County in a blue delivery truck, one could be forgiven for thinking that all you would hear on the radio would be Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) talk shows and Taiwanese folk songs. In Pingtung and Greater Kaohsiung, you don’t expect to hear radio programs from China, so what are they doing on the air?
In a move that hearkens back to the propaganda wars of the 1960s and 1970s, but with a twist, China is invading the AM radio frequencies in southern Taiwan with programs that push Beijing’s agenda — unification, economic interdependence, cultural exchanges and friendly sentiment aimed at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). These programs are being beamed from Fujian Province and although they are mostly from private stations, there is no doubt that Chinese officials have a say about their content.
This type of radio onslaught is to be expected from an aggressive neighboring country with territorial designs, but where are Taiwan’s countermeasures? What is the National Communications Commission (NCC) doing about this? The answer is that commission officials and the government-at-large are doing nothing, while southern Taiwanese are subjected to pro-unification propaganda.
Not so long ago, an invasion of high-powered broadcasts from Chinese radio stations would not have been tolerated. The commission or the military would have taken the propaganda threat seriously and adopted technical countermeasures rather than let Chinese radio waves blanket the south and west of the nation unopposed.
NCC acting spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) threw cold water on this idea, saying interference could only be conducted via legal means, a difficult thing to obtain in a clandestine propaganda war.
Under the Ma government, the commission does not bat an eye at this type of propaganda. No wonder, considering how some of the so-called news radio programs originating in China push the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China that Ma championed and discredit reports that his popularity is declining.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) was right when she described the large-scale influx of Chinese radio programs across the AM frequencies in Taiwan as “cultural unification.”
However, what is more deplorable is the government and the commission’s lack of attention regarding this issue, which borders on outright collusion. Even worse is the attitude of former Radio Taiwan International president Cheryl Lai (賴秀如), who dismissed Taiwanese radio stations in the south as platforms for quack health products and implied that they need to compete with Chinese stations on an equal playing ground if they want to succeed — this is not fair considering that their competitors in Fujian Province are likely backed with government money.
From the look of things the Ma government has not only thrown in the towel in the propaganda war, it is actively colluding with China to allow pro-Beijing content onto the radio waves, especially in the south where pro-DPP sentiment runs high. Although many people will dismiss these programs, others will listen, especially when they are also subjected to a barrage of pro-China media outlets in TV and print form.
Ma’s so-called policy of detente with China is nothing but a smokescreen used by Beijing to mask an outright cultural and economic blitzkrieg of Taiwan for the purpose of integration. Given the government’s clear lack of enthusiasm for dealing with this threat, this is a battle China looks set to win.