On Friday, representatives from several Taiwanese media organizations attended a cross-strait media summit in Beijing cohosted by China’s Beijing Daily Group and the Taiwan-based Want Want China Times Media Group. At the closed-door Cross-Strait Media People Summit — also attended by Taiwan’s United Daily News Group, Eastern Broadcasting Co and TVBS Media — Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Wang Yang (汪洋) called on Taiwanese media to promote a Taiwanese version of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” model of governance, advocated by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in a speech on Jan. 2.
Participation at the event by Taiwanese media organizations — the contents of Wang’s address was subsequently leaked to the wider Taiwanese media — is disturbing and should be viewed through the prism of Beijing’s wider effort to influence public debate in Taiwan. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) calls this its “united front” strategy — a decades-long “whole of society” campaign to infiltrate and subvert Taiwan’s open and liberal democracy, thereby achieving its goal of unification without the need to fire a single shot. The question is: What should the government do about it?
Predictably, the government has already issued several boilerplate statements criticizing the forum. On Saturday, the Mainland Affairs Council censured Wang for “using a cross-strait media summit as a platform for political propaganda.” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has also weighed in, rebuking the CCP for interfering in Taiwan’s internal affairs and the freedom of its press.
Tellingly, both statements refrained from directly criticizing the Taiwanese media organizations in attendance, instead focusing on the forum itself. This might be because officials believe that at least some of the organizations attended in good faith, but were ambushed by Wang’s speech. Officials might also be wary of attacking individual media organizations, lest they are accused of encroaching upon freedom of the press.
However, there are signs that the government is moving toward tighter regulation of the media. Last month, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: “We hope the media can regulate itself, but we have witnessed disconcerting developments, which the public has also condemned... Both self-regulation and laws are needed for effective regulation.”
The Executive Yuan is drafting a bill aimed at regulating false reporting in the media, while National Security Bureau (NSB) Deputy Director-General Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨) yesterday told reporters his organization is keeping a close eye on domestic media that are either pro-China or share the CCP’s values and are spreading disinformation to influence public debate.
The government is also looking at amending the Criminal Code to allow for the prosecution of individuals who help spread false information. This highlights a significant conundrum for the government: Beijing’s “united front” campaign does not limit itself to traditional media. China is also using Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms, through which much of the younger generation obtains news reporting, to influence public debate by spreading disinformation and fake news.
Nevertheless, the trend toward online media also presents the government with an opportunity. Beijing’s social media influence campaign, to a large extent, rests upon it being able to fund pro-China content creators in Taiwan. It should be possible for the NSB to track and cut off funding sources linked to China.
However, the government must tread carefully. If it goes down the road of overt media censorship, it will begin to undo all of the progress made through Taiwan’s democratic reforms and will be unwittingly assisting Beijing in its goal of unification by destroying the very freedoms that differentiate liberal Taiwan from totalitarian China.
In 2020, then-US president Donald Trump’s administration banned Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Samsung from manufacturing advanced chips for Chinese companies on the Entity List such as Huawei. Last year, US President Joe Biden’s administration announced that exports of high-performance computing chips from the US to China require approval; sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China that can be used to produce logic chips at or below the 14/16-nanometer technology node, DRAM chips with a half-pitch less than or equal to 18 nanometers and NAND chips with 128 or more layers also require approval; and all US citizens or permanent
The Twenty-Four Histories (中國廿四史) is a collection of official Chinese dynastic histories from Records of the Grand Historian (史記) to the History of the Ming Dynasty (明史) that cover the time from the legendary Yellow Emperor (黃帝) to the Chongzhen Emperor (崇禎), the last Ming emperor. History is written by the victors. These histories are not merely records of the rise and fall of emperors, they also demonstrate the ways in which conquerors embellished their own achievements while deriding those of the conquered. The history written by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is no exception. The PRC presents its
In August 2013, Reuters reported that Beijing had been gaining soft power with investment commitments and trade with countries in Latin America. However, instead of jumping on the chance to make new allies, China stalled requests to establish diplomatic relations with the countries to avoid galling Taiwanese voters. Beijing was also courting then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), and the tactic left China with a trump card if cross-strait relations turned cool. China had rebuffed at least five countries’ requests to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing, the report said, quoting a China analyst. Honduras could become the ninth diplomatic ally, and also the fifth
OpenAI has announced a major upgrade to the technology that underpins ChatGPT, the seemingly magical online tool that professionals have been using to draft e-mails, write blog posts and more. If you think of ChatGPT as a car, the new language model known as GPT-4 adds a more powerful engine. The old ChatGPT could only read text. The new ChatGPT can look at a photograph of the contents of your fridge and suggest a dinner recipe. The old ChatGPT scored in the 10th percentile on the bar exam. The new one was in the 90th. In the hours since its release,