Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Fake news undermining DPP

Former minister of education Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) has just resigned from his post. After he stepped down, Beijing cooked up fake news to discredit him, saying he would be hired by the Presidential Office. The stories were distributed on social media and through texts to the mainstream media in Taiwan, so that they could misinform the electorate and increase people’s bad impression of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

This is clearly a psychological war of public opinion, the likes of which we have seen play out in Taiwan on numerous occasions in the past. The process is that Beijing cooks up some kind of fake news, takes policy details and statistics wildly out of context and then distributes them to certain media outlets, online forums, content farms and social media platforms from where the fake news and manipulated statistics are disseminated.

Meanwhile, online trolls aid and abet the process. Over time, the impression builds up that the government has achieved next to nothing over the past two years.

Yet, if you look objectively at the government’s performance, you can see that the DPP has got the stock market back up to more than 10,000 points, the unemployment rate is falling and great strides have been made in pension reform and long-term care.

On the foreign relations front, Fan Shih-ping (范世平), a political science professor at National Taiwan Normal University, reminds us that Japan changed the name of the Interchange Association, Japan to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrote to Taiwan with words of encouragement following the Hualien earthquake; President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) made a historic telephone call to then-US president-elect Donald Trump; the US passed the Taiwan Travel Act and is debating items favorable to Taiwan’s defense in the annual National Defense Authorization Act budget; and high-ranking US officials have visited Taiwan.

These diplomatic successes far outstrip what former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) achieved in his two terms in power.

If the DPP does not do something to deal with the fake news rolled out by certain online media and groups supported by the Chinese Communist Party, public opinion in Taiwan will turn against the governing party.

This, coupled with the manipulation and misinformation peddled about in opinion polls, means the green camp could be hit hard in this year’s elections.

Lin Chien-chih

Tainan

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