Nationwide investigation launched to root out China's influence in Taiwan media

Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau 'Election Investigation Task Force' aims to mitigate foreign influence ahead of 2020 election

Organizational meeting of MJIB task force, June 28

Organizational meeting of MJIB task force, June 28 (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – This weekend the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) launched its official investigation into Chinese influence in Taiwanese media, to ensure that the upcoming presidential and legislative elections are conducted fairly and transparently.

Plans for the election investigation task force were announced in late June, and coincide with the Tsai administration’s amendments to the National Security Act to in an effort to toughen penalties for those conspiring with, or acting as agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The MJIB task force will be investigating news and entertainment media companies in Taiwan in an effort to tamp down on misinformation, and fake news designed to mislead voters. The task force will also pursue any evidence of bribery, espionage of influence peddling on behalf of the CCP among Taiwan’s so-called “Red Media.”

The Bureau notes that a recent study conducted in April by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, concludes that Taiwanese society suffered the most intrusive interference by a foreign entity of any country in the world in 2018.

Likewise, Japanese analysts have concluded that the CCP considers Taiwan a testing ground for its ability to manipulate public opinion and disrupt democratic societies using media influence campaigns.

The MJIB in its initial notice of the investigation declared that the problem of disinformation campaigns online to sway voters is a serious threat to the integrity of Taiwan’s democratic elections.

Each instance of fake news or malicious propaganda discovered by the task force will be investigated by a forensic information security team to determine the source of the news, and any relevant violations of Taiwanese law. Groups found to be disseminating fake news will also be subject to financial investigation to determine potential foreign donors or organizational ties.

UDN reports that the following media outlets are likely targets of the MJIB investigation; Crazy News (狂新聞), Mission News (密訊), Ghost Island News (鬼島狂新聞), and the OMGoose media group (老天鵝娛樂公司). Suspicious Facebook groups are also likely to be targeted in the investigation.

In late June, it was reported that Chinese administrators of a Facebook page successfully manipulated the social media platform to help engineer Han Kuo-yu's (韓國瑜) rise to fame and his victory in the Kaohsiung mayoral race in 2018.

The MJIB investigation aims to root out as much CCP influence as possible before the 2020 presidential election.