“Taiwan is bracing for a surge in Chinese influence operations ahead of upcoming elections,” a Financial Times (FT) report published on Sunday said.
Experts have called the hacking of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Web site on Tuesday last week the “latest sign of Beijing’s willingness to exert power beyond its borders,” the report said.
Hackers altered the contents of the dpp.org.tw Web site to display messages in simplified Chinese such as “Chinese netizens for re-electing Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)” and “The Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] is next.”
DPP spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said at the time that attacks against the party’s Web site have increased in the run-up to the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24.
“China’s desire to influence electoral outcomes in a manner that favors Beijing is hardly different than Russia’s use of cyber means to attain outcomes more favorable to the Kremlin in Crimea or the US,” Lauren Dickey, a Washington-based Taiwan analyst and King’s College London researcher, said in the FT report.
Taiwan is now “on the front lines of cyberwarfare, with hackers trying to steal information and spreading fake news to create dissent in Taiwan society,” the report quoted a spokesperson for Tsai as saying, adding: “Taiwan will become a global hotspot for cyberattacks and fake news.”
“China’s tougher approach comes as Xi Jinping (習近平), China’s president, acted nationalistically in response to domestic economic problems and closer ties between the US and Taiwan,” Willy Lam (林和立), a China expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in the report.
China is “turning to more overt measures and away from this old [former Chinese leader] Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) axiom of ‘keep a low profile’” when it comes to foreign policy, Lam added.
“Taiwanese cyber security officials said 90 percent of serious hacking attacks on government departments came from China,” the report said.
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