Some Taiwanese news sites have become mouthpieces of the Chinese government in promoting measures aimed at Taiwanese that are part of Beijing’s “united front” tactics, a source said.
China last year launched a Web site registered in Taiwan to promote its 31 measures aimed at attracting Taiwanese businesspeople and students, but closed the site after it was discovered by Taiwanese authorities.
This time, Beijing is cooperating with 20 Taiwanese media companies to advertise 26 measures that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) announced on Monday last week, the source said.
The sites were asked to post the full text of the measures, explanations of each measure, a diagram provided by the TAO that it said “sums up the 26 measures in one picture” and commentary about the measures by the TAO-affiliated China Taiwan Network Web site, the source said.
“Who is harming the interests of Taiwanese for personal gain? The answer is easy to see,” the commentary said, seemingly referring to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
The 20 Web sites, along with three others, in July also published an article by the TAO vilifying Tsai and her administration, the source said.
Some of the Web sites, including Life News (民生新聞網), Finger Media (指傳媒) and Beneficence News (慈善新聞報), list their addresses as being in Taichung, and 14 of them are associated with Finger Media, the source said.
Tsai in July said China’s use of proxy Web sites in Taiwan is part of its information war against the nation and is a threat to the nation’s democracy.
Authorities are investigating whether the Web sites contravened the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法) or the National Security Act (國家安全法) by posting articles for the TAO, the source said.
However, a previous administrative investigation was inconclusive due to the lack of an official authority for online media, making it difficult to regulate their activity, they said.
Web sites acting as mouthpieces for Beijing fall outside the scope of free speech and are a national security issue, National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of Journalism professor Flora Chang (張錦華) said on Saturday.
The government should define which government agency has jurisdiction over online media and pass a “Chinese Communist Party agent” bill to respond to Chinese infiltration, she said.
The government has extricated itself from the media following the end of martial law in Taiwan, but now China is taking advantage of the nation’s freedoms to manipulate public opinion, she said, adding that China’s actions also threaten the freedom of the press.
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