Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 8 News List

China’s Web trolls secretly jealous of Taiwanese

By Genzi Lim 林建志

When I was living overseas, when there was no Windows operating system and we were still using the bulletin board system and DOS, I was already engaged in arguments with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cyberwarriors. I found that many members of the “50 cent army” — Internet users hired by the CCP to manipulate public opinion — actually love Taiwan.

Be it cyberwarriors whose job is to carry out psychological “united front” tactics, or patriotic democratic movement activists living overseas who were brainwashed by the CCP, they all let off steam for not being able to criticize or question the long-standing authoritarian CCP government by instead criticizing a Taiwan in democratic transition, which Chinese have no way of changing or imposing sanctions on by voting.

In addition to Internet forums, there are now also political TV talk shows globally available on the Internet 24 hours a day, which many Chinese who can to circumvent China’s “Great Firewall” can watch and get upset at at the same time.

Behaving like the fans of South Korean dramas, Taiwanese soap operas and youth dramas, many Chinese get so involved that they almost think that they are Taiwanese, although what most of them mainly watch are extreme pro-unification programs, which are very unpopular in Taiwan.

The introduction of live video streaming and other Internet functions have led to a great increase in ordinary people making live broadcasts. This has provided the Internet army with even more options and many overseas Chinese have turned into commentators on Taiwanese political issues, although they seldom mention Chinese affairs.

Every day these KMT and CCP cyberwarriors badmouth Taiwan as being a “ghost island,” an opinion that is very different from the position of many foreigners and members of the pan-green camp, who think of Taiwan as a “treasure island.”

These cyberwarriors like to emphasize democratic rights even more than the pan-green camp does, and they say that they will liberate and unify Taiwan, wash it in blood and kill off all the “Japanese subjects” as they like to call Taiwanese. This is all part of the freedom of speech.

They have forgotten that they themselves are protectors of the authoritarian KMT and CCP regimes that crush the media’s freedom of speech and oppose democratic electoral systems.

People should try to avoid things that they really dislike: Why would they sit glued to the TV every day watching political talk shows, picking on and fussing about what they hear?

Some of Taiwan’s extremist pro-unification online videos might be very popular and receive many clicks, but the problem is that of all those people, perhaps no more than one in 10 can vote in Taiwan.

To paraphrase a well-known Chinese Internet pundit, whose family, it was revealed, emigrated to the US long ago, even though he became famous for his severe criticism of US imperialism: “Calling Taiwan a ghost island is my job; living on Taiwan, the treasure island, is my life.”

Scolding and dismissing Taiwan as a ghost island is what the cyberarmy gets paid to do, but moving to the treasure island, Europe or the US is the life they really want.

Genzi Lim is a writer.

Translated by Lin Lee-Kai

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