A video circulating online that purportedly shows Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) flaunting COVID-19 prevention rules is part of a Chinese disinformation campaign to demoralize the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.
The video clip, in which Chen, who heads the center, is shown singing indoors without wearing a mask, was filmed last year, the minister said, but began circulating online on Wednesday, suggesting that the incident occurred earlier this year in contravention of rules mandated by a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert.
Chen on Thursday denied attending any event without wearing a mask while restrictions were in place.
The clip alleges that Chen had contravened CECC regulations at the height of an outbreak that started in May, but the video was shot on June 15 last year, shortly after restrictions had been rolled back on June 7 last year following 56 days with no new COVID-19 infections, Chen said.
Su yesterday said the clip was intended to demoralize and malign the CECC and sow doubt against the government.
A national security source said an account named “Silly Things in Taiwan” on China’s Weibo first shared the video at 5:48pm on Wednesday before it was picked up by a YouTube channel and later reported on by local news at 7:45pm.
The Weibo account also had accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, where it posts on controversial issues in the US and Taiwan, the source said.
The Chinese Communist Party is believed to be behind the channel, the source added.
The video is intended to reduce public trust in the government’s epidemic prevention policies, the source said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu’s (蔡易餘) office director, Wang Hsuan-mao (王宣貿), said that another Weibo account, known as the official promoter of Internet culture for the Guangdong Provincial Government, had also shared the video at about 6pm on Wednesday.
There is legitimate cause to suspect that Beijing is spreading disinformation on the Internet to undermine the public’s trust in the government, and attempting to cause strife and discord in the nation, Wang said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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