China has intensified its “united front” campaign to influence Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 11, mainly by using media executives and journalists as its agents, experts said at a forum in Taipei yesterday.
Taking advantage of the freedom of the press in Taiwan, Beijing has been targeting local media outlets and university students for its campaign, Nanhua University professor of international relations Sun Kuo-hsiang (孫國祥) said.
“The Chinese government has organized many conferences and junket trips, inviting media personnel from Taiwan for ‘exchanges’ with their counterparts in China,” Sun said, citing as an example the Cross-Strait Media Summit in Beijing in May, which was attended by more than 70 Taiwanese media executives and senior journalists.
Some Taiwanese journalists have become Beijing’s puppets and mouthpieces, presenting biased reports to push the Taiwanese public to accept the “one country, two systems” framework, he said.
Taiwan should follow the US in enacting a “Foreign Agents Registration Act,” which required China’s Xinhua news agency and China Global Television Network in Washington to register as lobbyists acting on behalf of a foreign government and disclose their funding and expenditure, Prospect Foundation executive director Lai I-chung (賴怡忠) said.
There are many levels in the Chinese government for undertaking these “united front” works in Taiwan, including the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the United Front Work Department, both of which fall under the purview of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee, as well as the CCP Publicity Department and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, participants at the forum said.
Chinese government departments and party organs have infiltrated all social sectors in Taiwan to try to influence the elections, offering low-cost trips to China to attract young Taiwanese, religious groups, Aboriginal leaders and representatives, and borough wardens and village chiefs, they said.
The two-day forum was organized by the Institute for National Defense and Security Research.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is aware that Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong has weakened any possible sentiment for a “one country, two systems” arrangement for Taiwan, and has instructed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politburo member Wang Huning (王滬寧) to develop new ways of defining cross-strait relations, Japanese news magazine Nikkei Asia reported on Thursday. A former professor of international politics at Fu Dan University, Wang is expected to develop a dialogue that could serve as the foundation for cross-strait unification, and Xi plans to use the framework to support a fourth term as president, Nikkei Asia quoted an anonymous source
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