An online rumor that National Security Bureau Director-General Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) visited Thailand at taxpayers’ expense in July is “classic cognitive warfare” intended to signal to foreign officials that their whereabouts in Thailand are known to China, a national security official said on Saturday.
The rumor originated from a Twitter message posted on Monday last week by the account “somchai” (@andreny45652235), claiming that Chen took a sightseeing trip to Thailand at public expense.
As proof, the user posted a photograph of Chen allegedly taken at Thai customs, as well as screenshots of a customs clearance spreadsheet and a hotel bill.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
The post was also shared on Facebook, including the popular group Baoliao Commune.
The bureau the same day said details of the post were incorrect, although it did not specify whether Chen visited Thailand.
“The activities of bureau officials as a matter of course are not shared with the public,” it said.
The Twitter account was created only last month and posted six messages before being taken down, a national security official said on condition of anonymity.
The incident played out as “classic cognitive warfare from overseas,” they said.
The account posted unverified photographs designed to instigate public debate and urged viewers to “see for yourself,” the official said.
The post was then shared on different social media platforms by collaborators and rewritten into news stories, ensuring that the false narrative makes the switch from online to offline to expand its sphere of influence, they said.
If true, it reveals the extent to which Chinese agents have infiltrated security systems in Thailand, they said, adding that the post intentionally includes information from multiple sources to convey its reach.
Apart from attempting to cast doubt on the abilities of Taiwan’s national security apparatus, the post also intends to send a message to officials from other countries that China might be aware of the details of their trips to Thailand, the official said.
As for the purpose of Chen’s alleged visit, the official said that Thailand has always been an important international center for intelligence.
Distrust of Beijing has deepened among other countries in the region over the past few months, and consequently boosting security ties and cooperation has become an urgent matter, they added.
Additional reporting by Aaron Tu
CALL FOR PEACE: Czech President Petr Pavel raised concerns about China’s military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait and its ‘unfriendly action’ in the South China Sea The leaders of three diplomatic allies — Guatemala, Paraguay and Palau — on Tuesday voiced support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN on the first day of the UN General Debate in New York. In his address during the 78th UN General Assembly, Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr urged the UN and all parties involved in cross-strait issues to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution. “The well-being and prosperity of nations and their economies are intrinsically linked to global peace and stability,” he said. He also thanked partner nations such as Taiwan, Australia, Japan and the US for providing assistance
CROSS-STRAIT CONCERNS: At the same US Congress hearing, Mira Resnick said a US government shutdown could affect weapons sales and licenses to allies such as Taiwan A Chinese blockade of Taiwan would be a “monster risk” for Beijing and likely to fail, while a military invasion would be extremely difficult, senior Pentagon officials told the US Congress on Tuesday. Growing worries of a conflict come as China has ramped up military pressure on Taiwan, holding large-scale war games simulating a blockade on the nation, while conducting near-daily warplane incursions and sending Chinese vessels around its waters. US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said a blockade would be “a monster risk for the PRC [People’s Republic of China].” “It would likely not succeed, and it
IMPORTS: Fifty-four million imported eggs with a value of more than NT$200 million had to be destroyed, mostly because they expired in storage facilities Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) last night announced that he would resign from his post. Local media on Sunday reported that Chen had resigned due to controversy over the ministry’s egg import program. Later that same evening, the Executive Yuan said that Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) had asked the minister to stay on to resolve the issue. Chen Chi-chung last night made public his decision to resign on Facebook, saying that this time he would not be dissuaded. Chen Chi-chung earlier yesterday apologized for the furor surrounding the egg import program, but added that misinformation had made the problems worse. The government was
‘HARASSMENT’: A record 103 Chinese warplanes were detected in 24 hours, posing severe challenges to security in the Taiwan Strait and the region, the ministry said Taiwan yesterday told China to stop its “destructive unilateral actions” after more than 100 Chinese warplanes and nine navy ships were detected in areas around the nation. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) described the number of warplanes detected in 24 hours as a “recent high,” while Beijing has so far refrained from issuing any official comment on the sorties. “Between the morning of September 17th to 18th, the Ministry of National Defense had detected a total of 103 Chinese aircraft, which was a recent high and has posed severe challenges to the security across the Taiwan Strait and in the region,”