Taiwan mayor talks Indo-Pacific strategy at Washington DC event

Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng discusses US-Taiwan cooperation and Chinese fake news

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Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan speaking at the Wilson Center (by Taoyuan City Government)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In a speech given at Washington D.C.’s Wilson Center on July 10, Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) broached the topics of security in the Indo-Pacific region and the spread of fake news from China.

At an event entitled “Taiwan's Democracy and the Free and Open Pacific: A Mayoral Perspective,” Mayor Cheng spoke about China’s buying off of diplomats, promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative, and use of debt traps to expand its international influence, reports the Liberty Times. The mayor mentioned that Taiwan has been the victim of China's increasingly bold attempts to hem in the island nation diplomatically.

Cheng said both Taiwan’s self-defense and the creation of a national security risk index pose major challenges. As part of the first Pacific island chain, Cheng believes that Taiwan needs to come up with strategies to confront China’s regional hegemony, the LTN report continues.

The mayor pointed to University of Gothenburg research project V-Dem, which shows that China has bombarded Taiwan with more fake news than any other country. Chinese internet trolls’ most common tactics are creating confusion about the truth with fake news and writing fake articles peppered with bits of truth, causing readers to doubt legitimate news sources.

In response, the Taiwanese government has built a fake news-checking platform to curb its spread via social media and messaging apps.

Cheng also spoke about the anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong, maintaining that they had further entrenched the Taiwanese consensus against the “one country, two systems” policy. The Taoyuan mayor asserted that under the U.S. strategy for the Indo-Pacific, it is imperative that Taiwan and the U.S. cooperate to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.