To this day, Beijing maintains its claim over Taiwan, seeing the island as part of its territory and hoping to one ray reunite it with the mainland. Over the years, various indirect attempts to influence Taiwanese voters to elect pro-Beijing political candidates have been identified. For the most part, tying these directly to Beijing has been difficult – that is, until now.
Documents obtained from the Beijing city government by the Epoch Times confirm the Chinese government’s direct involvement in creating and spreading pro-unification propaganda on Facebook.
Dating from early June, the documents are reports to be presented to higher-ups to show off various “accomplishments” in regards to Beijing’s propaganda efforts in Taiwan. They provide evidence that Beijing is using various proxy Facebook pages to promote its claim of sovereignty as well as the idea of a military invasion of Taiwan.
The documents show that, from May 25 to June 8, at least 74 posts across four pages were shared on Facebook. These posts were designed to “deflate the insolent air of the pro-independence Taiwan groups and draw a contrast to the outbreak handling between China, U.S., and Taiwan, thereby to demonstrate the advantages of our system.”
Beijing has been using the term “pro-independence” to frame individuals and acts that demonstrate pride or solidarity for the Taiwanese identity, including just waiving the Taiwanese flag.
Most of the pages have obscure names and modest followings, ranging from just a few hundred to over 8,000 followers. However, the report noted that five of the best performing videos from one page received more than 30,000 likes, comments, shares and clicks during the two week period.
The top video, which was watched 1.02 million times and drew more than 137,000 reactions over 13 days, demonstrated a hypothetical military invasion of Taiwan. It claims that the Chinese military is “invincible” and that Taiwan needs to unify with the mainland.
This, and other videos, were reported to have made a “significant impact” and “drawn widespread attention from overseas netizens” in another document. However, this report, written by Hu Guangqu, an editor and reporter for the state-affiliated news site Huaxia Jingwei, conceded that most Taiwanese feel that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s aid should an invasion happen. He also noted that this sentiment was shared by the majority of Taiwan’s youths “who have an extremely low sense of identification with the motherland.”
While Beijing’s propaganda campaign against Taiwan has been going on for quite some time now, the ongoing pandemic has put them in a new light.
Taiwan has largely been successful in fighting off the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). This is despite the island nation being locked out of the conversation as the Chinese government continues to oppose any moves to make the island nation a member of the World Health Organization (WHO).
This distance from the WHO and Chinese perceived influence over the health body seems to have worked in Taiwan’s favor, however. Early on in the pandemic, the country already started working with the assumption that COVID-19 was spread through human-to-human transmission – something that took the WHO awhile to admit, possibly hurting the countries aligned with the health body.
To date, Taiwan only has 451 cases and seven deaths from the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Taiwan’s success in dealing with the pandemic undermines Beijing’s efforts to convince the Taiwanese people that they would be better off reunified with the mainland. It tells the Taiwanese people that they can handle problems on their own, without the mainland’s help.
With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Chinese government doubles down on its propaganda efforts to undermine Taiwan.