President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Saturday that a report by Reuters a day earlier saying that China was buying positive coverage in Taiwanese media confirmed Beijing's widespread infiltration of Taiwan.
Speaking with the reporters on the sidelines of a visit to a temple in Kaohsiung, Tsai said China's infiltration of Taiwan was "ubiquitous" and worries over Beijing's influence here were not unfounded.
She was responding to a Reuters report saying that Chinese authorities, including China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), have paid at least five Taiwan media organizations for favorable coverage in various publications and even on a TV channel.
Among the stories, the report said, were two feature stories about a new Chinese government program aimed at luring Taiwanese business people to China and winning the hearts of Taiwan's people.
According to Reuters, the articles, for which the TAO paid 30,000 Chinese yuan (US$4,300), lauded the Chinese government program, saying China "treated Taiwanese businessmen like its own people."
Tsai said the judicial system will launch an investigation into the articles if the deals between the Taiwanese news media and China violated the law.
People in Taiwan should be aware of China's influence and establish clearly whether the reports they see are real or false to eliminate false news in the first place.
"Getting rid of false news and stopping the circulation of false news is critical to protecting democracy" in Taiwan, Tsai said.
Tsai also urged news media in Taiwan to provide fair and objective coverage to gain credibility with readers and viewers.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also issued a statement Saturday, saying DPP lawmakers will speed up efforts to amend laws to counter what they said was "red infiltration" and do moreto educate the public on detecting such Chinese propaganda.
Beijing should not underestimate the will of Taiwan's people to defend their freedom and democracy, DPP spokeswoman Lee Yen-jong (李晏榕) said in the statement.