Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Taichung city councilor says 23 local Web sites spreading TAO’s fake news

By Huang Chung-shan, Lee Hsin-fang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Taichung City Councilor Chiang Chao-kuo (江肇國) is calling on the city government to investigate 23 Taiwanese Web sites found to be sharing “fake news” from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO).

The Web sites — 18 of which are registered in Taichung — are spreading false reports about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration, Chiang said, adding that the reports had been traced back to the “China Taiwan Network,” an affiliate of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

The city government should determine the funding source for the Web sites, he said.

The Taichung City Government said that while a company is subject to audits and is required to provide financial statements prepared by a certified accountant, details about a company’s operations and financial transactions are internal matters.

Of the 23 Web sites that he investigated, one was registered to an address in New Taipei City, one in Yilan County and two had no registration information, Chiang said, adding that the remaining 18 were registered in Taichung.

Taichung police said they would investigate whether the Web sites were spreading false reports.

The large number of sites in Taichung raised concern that the city has become infiltrated by Chinese content farmers, Chiang said, adding that it was a matter of national security.

The police should fully investigate the issue with the National Communications Commission and national security officials, he said.

The Taichung Economic Development Bureau should know about the operations and funding of the companies running the Web sites, he said.

In April, the Taichung City Government publicly expressed support for China and Taiwan belonging to “one China” and offered space in the city government building for activities held by Chinese organizations, Taichung City Councilor Chiu Su-chen (邱素貞) said.

Local pro-democracy groups protested the city’s openness toward China, calling for the “protection of Taiwan and opposition toward China,” she added.

Meanwhile, national security officials have begun to investigate the management behind several of the Web sites identified by Chiang, including Life News (民生新聞網), Finger Media (指傳媒) and Beneficence News (慈善新聞報), a source close to the matter said yesterday.

Officials were aware of “foreign forces” behind the false reports disseminated by the sites and were investigating the motivations of those involved, the source said.

The Executive Yuan and the Presidential Office had already determined the Web sites to be part of organized efforts to attack and undermine the central government, the source said, adding that they believed Taiwan urgently needs a legislative amendment prohibiting Taiwanese from acting as agents of the Chinese Communist Party.

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