The Ministry of Digital Affairs on Dec. 5 last year listed TikTok and Douyin, the Chinese version of the video sharing app, as products “that endanger national cybersecurity.” The ministry also announced restrictions on the use of the apps on government devices and on the premises of government agencies.
This raises the question of whether TikTok and Douyin should also be banned on school campuses. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which has posted on TikTok as part of election campaigns, said such restrictions amount to “speech control,” and KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said that not everything should be about ideology.
Many young people also think that looming regulations on the apps are a matter of freedom and civil rights. They say there is no need for government interference and that they should be allowed to judge for themselves.
Due to its proximity to China, Taiwan faces a greater military threat from Beijing than any other nation.
However, many Taiwanese, who have become accustomed to living in freedom, do not think about needing to be prepared for danger in times of peace.
While an opinion poll showed that 60 percent of the US public are in favor of a full-scale TikTok ban and Japan is planning to implement a “security investigation” mechanism to restrict suspicious Chinese apps, including TikTok, many Taiwanese are happy to sit in the front row of China’s misinformation campaigns without worrying in the slightest.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that TikTok gives rise to “national security concerns.”
While TikTok is not available in China, Douyin has been called the app’s “spinach version,” as it is educational and offers limited services. Chinese children under the age of 14 are only allowed to use the app for 40 minutes a day, and can only watch “patriotic” or educational videos dealing with topics such as science experiments and museum exhibitions. TikTok, aimed at the rest of the world, is an addictive “opium version” that keeps children hooked for hours at a time.
Wray also said that Chinese companies have to do whatever Beijing tells them to do, potentially turning them into tools of the Chinese government.
This is worrying enough in itself.
Even before the US took notice, the Indian government in June 2020 temporarily banned TikTok on national security grounds. It did so because TikTok was suspected of stealing information from users’ devices without their knowledge, possibly including confidential data such as passwords, credit card information and sensitive e-mails.
Should TikTok be banned on school campuses? Do young people have sufficient ability to distinguish between true and false information? Has Taiwan underestimated the lengths to which China will go to infiltrate its society, eventually leading Taiwanese into the trap of its pro-unification influence operations and brainwashing?
While governments around the world are doing their best to prevent Chinese infiltration through TikTok, Taiwanese, who are threatened by China every day and are close to the brink of war, do not take this issue seriously enough and even think that the government is too nosey.
Meanwhile, certain political parties have the habit of speaking up for China. Taiwan has for nine consecutive years ranked first in the world for disinformation attacks.
Given this unenviable position, Taiwanese should take this national security issue more seriously.
Lin Han is a junior-high school teacher.
Translated by Julian Clegg
Criticisms of corruption, a poorly managed bureaucracy and uninformed, unprincipled or unaccomplished policy in China are often met with harsh punishments. Many protesters in the “blank paper movement,” for example, have been disappeared by the authorities. Meanwhile, the WHO has asked China to provide data on its COVID-19 situation, with the Chinese government choosing to disseminate propaganda instead. The first amendment of the US Constitution, written in 1791, prohibits the US government from abridging the freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, or religion. More than 200 years later, China, the world’s second-largest economy, still lacks the freedoms of speech and the press,
As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) constantly strives to rewrite the Taiwan narrative, it is important to regularly update and correct the stereotypes that the PRC tries to foist on Taiwan and the world. A primary stereotype is that Taiwan has always been a part of China and its corollary that Taiwan has been a part of China since time immemorial. Both are false. Taiwan has always been a part of the vast Austronesian empire, which stretched from Madagascar in the west to Easter Island in the east and from Taiwan in the north to New Zealand in the south. That
The latest Cabinet reshuffle retains top economic and finance officials in their posts. Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花), National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Thomas Huang (黃天牧) and Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) are all to remain. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), who is to be sworn in as the new premier tomorrow, reportedly wanted them to complete unfinished tasks and maintain coherent policymaking. This indicates that Tsai’s administration wants to formulate consistent and stable policies, reassure the business community and restore
To boost Taiwan’s international competitiveness, the government has launched a “bilingual nation” policy, pledging to achieve this goal by 2030. After the new Cabinet takes shape, it should promptly review the implementation of the policy, and then make adjustments if needed. How can Taiwanese’s English be improved? The answer is simple: Better English education would be a start. Oddly, many universities and even the College Entrance Examination Center (CEEC) are doing the opposite at the moment, taking Taiwan further away from becoming a “bilingual nation.” The CEEC, for example, which holds the General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT) in January as well