China has bought off two big Taiwanese media corporations and has provided funding and other resources to influence the nine-in-one election campaign, top government officials said.
“It is a fact that China has been giving money to groups in Taiwan for access to all kinds of conduits and networks to interfere with and influence our elections. Our judicial and investigation agencies have gathered a lot of evidence to back this up,” Premier William Lai (賴清德) said at a media interview on Tuesday.
Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau Director-General Leu Wen-jong (呂文忠) told lawmakers on Tuesday that Chinese funds have been flowing into Taiwan in recent months, with the money going directly to their designated candidates and their campaign managers.
The funds have been used to finance banquets, junkets to China and gifts for distribution to constituents and vote brokers to secure their support, Leu said.
“Other funds went to the pro-China political groups in Taiwan, to finance their publicity campaign and street activities to meddle in the elections and destabilize our society,” Leu added.
“We have been monitoring the situation for quite a while and have sufficient evidence for the bureau to investigate these cases,” Leu said.
Recent reports said that Beijing has bought off two leading media corporations and one polling company to release fictitious news and forge survey figures in favor of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and other pro-China pan-blue candidates.
“Two of Taiwan’s media corporations had their executives, led by their owners, visit Beijing earlier this year. They held talks with Chinese government officials, where the Chinese side gave them ‘working guidelines and instructions’ on working on election campaign news,” the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) and the Apple Daily cited a source working in a government intelligence agency as saying.
Beijing has already made inroads to disrupt society and to influence the election campaign by using Taiwanese as representative agents to buy up small media companies, deploying political pundits to present views and talking points that favor China and disparage the Taiwanese government, and producing and circulating election-related disinformation, the source said.
Netizens of Taiwan’s online political discussion sites have alleged the two corporations referred to are the United Daily News Group and Want Want ChinaTimes Media Group, which owns the China Times newspaper and CTI Television.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Bureau said it had received reports on 64 cases of alleged online dissemination of disinformation and fictitious news and turned over 40 of the cases to prosecutors.
The bureau’s criminal investigation section, computer technology section and other units have formed a taskforce to probe such cases and have discovered that some of these IP addresses are in Singapore and US, bureau Chief Secretary Chuang Ting-kai (莊定凱) said yesterday.
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