New Report: China Flooded Taiwan with Election- and COVID-related Disinformation
In their report published on May 24 called “Deafening Whispers,” Doublethink Lab researchers revealed that the Chinese government has developed a sophisticated set of disinformation tools.
The report found that Chinese government-backed disinformation flooded Taiwan during the 2020 Taiwan general election and the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s disinformation operations primarily aim to degrade social trust in Taiwan’s democracy and government, propagandize China’s governance model and value, and alienate the relations between the U.S. and Taiwan. These attacks amplify discord, criticize democratic ideologies, and fabricate conspiracies.
The researchers analyzed thousands of disinformation posts and categorized them into four types of attack modes:
- Propaganda mode: Disguising China’s propaganda as legitimate news and broadcasting them through traditional news outlets, either Chinese state media or Taiwanese news outlets that have received hidden financial or other incentives from Chinese government.
- Pink mode: Mobilizing Chinese nationalists as pro-China “cyber troops” (known as “little pinks”) to post and amplify disinformation online.
- Content farm mode: Using some websites (known as “content farms”) that aggregate low-quality, high-engagement articles to amplify and spread disinformation, often through Facebook, YouTube, Line, and other social media platforms.
- Collaboration mode: Working closely with local partners in the target country (such as online influencers and political parties) and asking them to share distorted messages through their platforms.
At the end of the report, the researchers propose several possible regulatory actions that may help Taiwan to minimize the effects of Chinese government’s information operations. These proposals include, but not limit to, enhancing transparency legislation (such as mandatory lobbying disclosures like those required by the U.S.’ Foreign Agents Registration Act), blocking the collaboration between proxy actors and local actors, and implementing reasonable measures on social media platforms.
 Axios: https://www.axios.com/report-beijing-taiwan-coronavirus-disinformation-82a6b21b-d743-49e8-9c66-c445827de024.html
 Double Think Lab: https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd
 Full Report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FW35t93GvMJ3W6rqbPhAm6lNZ4uy66jD/view
U.S.-ROK and EU-Japan Joint Statements Call for Peace in Taiwan Strait
U.S. President Joe Biden and the Republic of Korea (ROK) President, Moon Jae-in, reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait during their first in-person summit in Washington on May 21. The concern over cross-strait peace was also referred to in an EU-Japan joint statement on May 27.
According to a U.S.-ROK joint statement, President Joe Biden and President Moon emphasized “the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” and discussed a range of other regional security issues, such as the maintenance of “freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and beyond” and the upholding of the “rules-based international order.”
In a post-meeting press conference, President Moon denied that President Biden had pressured him to adopt a tougher stance on China. “As for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, we agreed on how important the region is . . . and decided to work more closely on the matter going forward,” he said.
In response, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on May 22 thanked the U.S. and South Korea for expressing the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Given its important location in the first island chain of East Asia, Taiwan has been playing a key role in regional stability and prosperity, MOFA said.
Moreover, an EU-Japan joint statement on May 27 also stressed that: “We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.” The same concern was mentioned earlier in a similar U.S.-Japan statement by President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on April 16 and a G7 foreign ministers’ joint communique on May 5.
The Biden administration’s decision to prioritize meetings with the United States’ traditional allies in Asia and to issue joint statements regarding peace in the Taiwan Strait has been interpreted as an effort to counter the growing aggression China wields in the region and to warn Beijing against any plans it may have of annexing Taiwan by force.