Reuters has obtained information showing that some Taiwanese media have allegedly become Beijing’s mouthpieces after receiving Chinese money.
Although the news confirmed long-standing public doubts, the authorities overseeing news and prosecutors appeared to turn a blind eye and allowed Chinese influence to enter Taiwan and establish “red” strongholds.
Western democracies generally regard media as “the fourth estate,” independent from the government. This underlines the importance of the media and explains why political forces would resort to all means — including carrot-and-stick approaches — to manipulate them.
Former deputy minister of national defense Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) once warned: “For China, buying Taiwan is more economical than conquering it,” adding that Beijing would hollow out Taiwan by offering benefits and incentives to “impoverish the nation.”
Reviewing China’s measures regarding Taiwan in the past few years, Beijing has evidently adopted the strategic goal of unification without resorting to war.
A turning point occurred in 2016, when first Taiwan and the US changed leaders.
Donald Trump won the US presidency with his “make America great again” clarion call. Soon after assuming office, he replaced the US’ long-standing policy of engagement with Beijing with a confrontational strategy.
Affected by the US-China trade conflict, China-leaning Taiwanese businesspeople who had “gone west” have started to return home.
According to data released this month by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, investment from repatriated business capital has reached NT$537 billion (US$17.1 billion) so far this year, which is expected to create more than 45,700 job opportunities.
When President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her administration took office, they halted the pro-China policy of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.
They also set the tone for safeguarding Taiwan’s sovereignty, effectively wresting the spotlight away from China’s attempt to connect with Taiwan using the so-called “1992 consensus” and showing the “one country, two systems” framework to be mere empty talk.
Under these circumstances, China has had to find a breakthrough by using Taiwan’s media. Whether by inviting managers and academics to China to attend “lectures” or by directly paying them to build a pro-China network, China is confusing the public’s understanding of what it means to safeguard Taiwan and its sovereignty by using the fourth estate to foster the illusion that siding with Beijing will open the door to “getting rich” and “creating peace.”
Beijing hopes that this would build support and once again place a pro-China leader in the Presidential Office.
Has Taiwan deployed defenses as China’s “united front” tactics take hold?
The founders of Taiwan’s two major Chinese-language newspapers — the United Daily News and the China Times — were both members of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee during the Martial Law era, yet their tough stance against communist China, and their pursuit of democratic ideals and freedom demonstrate the strength of character of true newspaper workers.
In comparison, the “red” media of today that work only for their own interests are truly lamentable.
The Bible says: “No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money.” This passage has profound implications.
Paul Lei is a former editor of the Christian Tribune.
Translated by Chang Ho-ming
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