A fake news report from China claiming that its consulate in Osaka evacuated 750 Chinese from Kansai International Airport on Wednesday caused chaos for the Taiwanese representative office in Japan.
The report claimed that Taiwanese could be evacuated if they identified themselves as “Chinese,” a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that Internet users contacted the office online asking why China could evacuate its people, but Taiwan could not.
The story was later confirmed to be fake when a Taiwanese traveler who was among those stranded at the airport confirmed that outside buses could not enter the airport’s pickup area, as the bridge to the airport was damaged and had been closed to outside traffic.
Instead, stranded travelers could take airport buses to nearby Izumisano Station, where they could board trains, or fast ferries to Kobe Airport.
The buses sent by the Chinese consulate picked up people from Izumisano, which is 11.6km from the airport, the traveler said.
The fake report showed that China was even willing to politicize disaster-response measures, the official said.
The report circulated on Chinese social media platform Weibo, with users commenting that their “mother country is so powerful” and one saying of non-Chinese trapped at the airport: “the foreigners trapped at Kansai International Airport are stupid.”
The use of fake news to cause social disruption is one of China’s “united front” strategies, the official said, citing Chinese interference in the aftermath of a Taiwanese man’s death in Kenya last month.
The man was traveling with a tour group near the shore of Kenya’s Lake Naivasha when he was attacked by a hippopotamus.
The Chinese embassy said that the man was Chinese, which was how media outlets then reported the accident, causing confusion for those responding.
Fake news affects countries worldwide and must be addressed by the government, the official said.
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