Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Taïwan : 2000 civil servants mobilized against interference Chinese

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Meeting as part of a forum against Chinese interference

  • Philippe Leblanc (View profile)Philippe Leblanc< /li>

Chinese interference in Taiwan's presidential campaign is so worrying that the 2,000 employees of the investigation office of the Ministry of Taiwan's justice system was reassigned to this case for the final month of the election campaign.

The methods used to manipulate the outcome of the vote are multiple, but disinformation remains at the heart of Chinese attempts. Many Taiwanese are also mobilizing to limit the consequences.

He is easily recognizable by his small glasses and his messy hair: Puma Shen is on every platform. He attends conferences and training sessions on disinformation almost every week. He has dedicated himself to this cause for five years.

Puma Shen also founded the Kuma Academy five years ago and he directs Doublethink Lab with the aim of raising awareness and training Taiwanese people to fight against disinformation originating from China. In the workshops he leads, he teaches how to recognize misinformation online.

This really is my life. My goal is really to stop this misinformation, because I know that China's ultimate goal is to invade Taiwan.

A quote from Puma Shen, founder of Kuma Academy

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Last Saturday, dozens of young people participated in workshops of all kinds, particularly on disinformation, as part of the g0v Hackathon held at the Academia Sinica institution.

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An image taken in April 2023 during a civil defense course offered by the Kuma Academy shows the organization's logo.

The portion on the disinformation was organized by another citizen group, CoFacts. Courses of this kind on disinformation are increasing in Taiwan.

We want to ensure that civil society can take responsibility, says Billion Lee, co-founder of CoFacts. That means we want everyone to be able to become a fact-checker. Everyone needs to think critically and know real ways to check facts.

Before the campaign, Taiwan suffered six million cyber attacks and disinformation every day. This figure exploded during the election period.

Between January and September, Google removed nearly 60,000 fake news channels originating from China.

Fake news relayed on a large scale on social networks, especially on TikTok thanks to its algorithm controlled by China, is more difficult to control, this which worries Puma Shen.

To screw up the results of local elections in Taiwan, he explains, it is enough to manipulate between 3,000 and 5,000 votes per constituency. So it's not that difficult for China.

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Puma Shen is founder of Kuma Academy.

According to the Taiwan FactCheck Center, those who spread disinformation take advantage of Taiwanese people's distrust of the media.

They seek to suggest that political factors interfere with the media environment and conceal the truth, for example the holding of demonstrations or the population's discontent with the government.

Disinformation that undermines the credibility of Taiwanese media is not new or unique to Taiwan. Over the past few years, disinformation articles claiming to reveal the truth that the media isn't telling you have appeared on social media platforms frequented by Taiwanese.

< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">The report of our correspondent in Asia, Philippe Leblanc

And there is no than misinformation. Beijing employs a vast arsenal to try to manipulate the outcome of the elections.

Daily military maneuvers across the Taiwan Strait continue and Chinese balloons have been flying over Taiwan every day for the past month. And Beijing is also exerting economic pressure.

Religious leaders with links to China are even suspected of influencing their followers. Taiwanese elected officials were offered all-expenses-paid trips to China by the Chinese Communist Party, which caused quite an uproar in Taiwan.

The China is also employing new methods that we cannot yet talk about publicly, says Liu Wen-Ping, an expert from the Investigation Bureau of the Taiwanese Ministry of Justice.

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A patrol ship sails in the strait separating Beijing and Taipei. (File photo)

For the final month of the election campaign, the investigative bureau’s 2,000 employees were assigned to a single task: documenting and monitoring attempts at Chinese interference. They will produce a report that the government will make public after the election.

From a national security perspective, we are providing detailed warnings about pressure by China or Beijing, continues Liu Wen-Ping.

There is a Chinese saying: “esteem the enemy generously.” We must continually understand any conspiracies or activities that Beijing may engage in against Taiwan and publicize these activities in order to educate the Taiwanese people. This gives them the ability to resist.

A quote from Liu Wen-Ping, expert from the Investigation Bureau of the Taiwan Ministry of Justice

For its part, the Chinese Ministry of Defense claims that the United States is spreading disinformation in Taiwan. He also accuses the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, the sovereignist party, of blowing up the matter.

They are exaggerating the risks of interference, claimed on December 28 a ministry spokesperson. They want confrontation and want to manipulate the election.

In addition to its training and education activities, Puma Shen is now leading its fight against interference and a possible Chinese invasion in the political arena. He is practically guaranteed to enter the Legislative Assembly under the colors of the Democratic Progressive Party.

He intends to present a bill as soon as next year in order to limit interference from Beijing. We need a digital services law that would incentivize social media platforms to do something to eliminate all these fake accounts or fake channels, he believes.

Like what experts recommend Ottawa do, Puma Shen would also like to create a registry of foreign agents, which Australia and the United States United have already established.

But immediately, a few days before the presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan, a decisive vote for global geopolitics, the calls for vigilance are multiplying and the war against disinformation is intensifying.

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