Ukraine disinformation fight sounds warning bells for Taiwan

The following article was published today on The Diplomat’s website

Taiwanese see propaganda everywhere. Decades of Martial Law will do that. Under the Kuomintang (KMT) dictatorship, indoctrination saw a generation of Taiwanese rendered “politically and socially inert,” to quote sociologist Hsiau A-chin. With that dark experience in living memory, the democratization of the 1980s and 1990s remains cherished – and any hint of backsliding triggers anxiety.

The 2018 local elections are a case in point. Following a drubbing at the polls for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), there were claims of external, mainly Chinese, interference in the vote and the concurrent referendum on same-sex marriage. A newly assembled Disinformation Coordination Team (DCT) advised the Central Election Committee to push for two bills – one to stop foreign sponsorship of campaign advertising and another to permit injunctions against misleading ads.

Both were rejected. The judiciary’s objection to involvement in the latter evoked memories of an era when the separation of powers in Taiwan was at best nominal.

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