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Czech think tank mulls Taiwan office for next year

(pixabay image)

(pixabay image)

The European Values Center for Security Policy, a Czech Republic think tank renowned for its study of information related to China and Russia, is considering the possibility of opening an office in Taiwan.

Speaking at the Stratcom Summit 2020, Jakub Janda, head of the think tank, said Thursday that the organization is considering setting up an office in Taiwan in a bid to work with Taiwanese partners to counter the malicious influence of China.

The think tank aims to protect democracies in Central and East Europe as well as the Balkans from penetration by China and Russia.

The summit is an annual event organized by the Czech think tank and its American counterparts, while these partners also release regular reports on their studies in misinformation.

The two-day summit in Prague discusses the battles against misinformation from Russia, a cyber-authoritarian China as well as possible cooperation between Russia and China to undermine global democracy.

Taiwan's vice foreign minister Harry Ho-jen Tseng (曾厚仁) addressed the summit and shared Taiwan's experience fighting misinformation in a video clip.

In his speech, Tseng said Taiwan is particularly susceptible to China's influence due to its geographic, ethnocultural and linguistic proximity.

In addition, Tseng said Taiwan's high internet penetration rate, which is about 90 percent, has made the country vulnerable, adding that more than 50 percent of 30 million cyberattacks targeting Taiwan every month mostly originate in China.

However, Tseng said Taiwan's government has come up with a great number of effective measures to address the situation, citing steps such as passing amendments concerning cyberspace and creating real-time news clarification webpages at various agencies.

Moreover, "under the Global Cooperation Training Framework, (CTF), Taiwan, the United States, Japan and Sweden have cohosted workshops on combating disinformation, strengthening cybersecurity, and cultivating media literacy," Tseng said. "We sincerely welcome other European countries to join this framework."

On the non-government front, Tseng said some organizations in Taiwan have also been working to combat misinformation, citing the Taiwan FactCheck Center, which fact checks information relevant to public affairs, promoting openness, transparency and accountability.

Tseng said 2020 has been defined by COVID-19 and its repercussions, and unfortunately the pandemic has been accompanied by an infodemic, a pandemic of disinformation.

While China restricted the flow of news and information, Tseng said, Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center holds daily news conferences to update COVID-19 information for the public.

Tseng said more than 100 digital maps were created in Taiwan to provide real-time information on face masks available at pharmacies.

"The lessons learned from the Taiwan model for disease are clear: Timely public access to accurate information, transparency, and government accountability save lives in a pandemic," Tseng said.

"Combating disinformation has directly benefited Taiwan and encouraged its people to be civic-minded, take anti-pandemic measures and prevent the spread of the virus," he said.