Sun, Sep 16, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China using fake news to divide Taiwan

‘UNEQUIVOCAL EVIDENCE’:Considering the state of the nation’s online ecology, China does not really need an Internet brigade to divide Taiwanese society, an academic said

By Chien Li-chung, Chung Li-hua and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Lai and Su were in fact making banana spring rolls at a promotional event, Chen said.

“Fake news is created by taking images or words out of context. It is often created to serve an agenda, such as discrediting the government or stirring public discontent,” he said. “Many of the stories bear the Chinese government’s mark.”

However, the nation’s Internet ecosystem is in such a shape that China does not really need an Internet brigade to manipulate Taiwanese public opinion or to spread fake news, he said.

While the government clearly needs to take action against disinformation, the response has to be measured to ensure that the freedom of speech is protected, Chen said.

Transparency and public communication are probably more important in maintaining the government’s credibility, he said.

Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文) said that the government should be more proactive and make better use of available tools to counter fake news.

“The government cannot expect posting statements on official Web sites to fix the problem. Most of the public does not bother to look at official Web sites,” he said, adding that prosecutors should enforce laws against the malicious and deliberate spreading of disinformation.

In related news, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who doubles as DPP chairperson, yesterday accused China of spreading fake news to discredit DPP Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who is seeking re-election in the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections.

“Lin’s opponent in the election is not the only party that is manipulating information. There is a lot of fake news from dubious sources and some of those are in China,” Tsai said at the opening ceremony for Lin’s campaign headquarters. “Disinformation damages the public’s trust in the government, polarizes society and intensifies partisanship in political elections.”

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Acting Deputy Director-General of Culture and Communications Tang Te-ming (唐德明) responded by saying: “The DPP and Chairperson Tsai are never wrong, it is always the KMT and the Chinese communists’ fault.”

Additional reporting by Aaron Tu and Su Chin-feng

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