Taiwan Investigates Possible Chinese Influence on Local TV Political Programs

Written by Kathrine Frich

Jun.26 - 2024 8:54 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
The inquiry centers on allegations that China attempted to impose a pro-Beijing editorial line.

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The National Communications Commission (NCC) of Taiwan is investigating potential Chinese interference in the direction of political programs on a local television station, according to the Swissinfo.

The inquiry centers on allegations that China attempted to impose a pro-Beijing editorial line.

An anonymous source reported that the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council (the Chinese executive) contacted several Taiwanese TV channels earlier this year, offering "commercial interests" in China in exchange for participation in producing interview programs.

Unveiling the Influence Operation

According to the source, the agreement included having a Xinhua News Agency correspondent in Taiwan involved in topic proposals, scriptwriting, and overseeing recordings.

Only one TV channel accepted these conditions and subsequently aired a series of programs praising former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's (2008-2016) policy towards Beijing during his recent trip to China.

The production team was unaware of the Xinhua journalist's identity until editorial interference started raising questions in the newsroom, as reported by the Taipei Times.

Official Response and Investigation

In a statement to the Taipei Times, Wong Po-tsung, NCC Vice President and spokesperson, confirmed that the commission is investigating "the details of the situation."

He noted that the Xinhua correspondent, who returned to China shortly after his involvement was revealed, may have undertaken actions "incongruent" with the purpose of his stay in Taiwan.

The Ministry of Culture and the NCC will determine if the journalist and the TV channel violated any regulations, including the law governing relations between Taiwan and China.

Wong emphasized that the NCC has formally notified the Satellite Television Broadcasting Association and other media organizations to rectify the situation and adhere to ethical standards.

China's Denial and Continuing Tensions

China has denied the accusations, with Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office, labeling the claims as "pure fabrication."

Zhu asserted that Taiwanese authorities are "misleading the Taiwanese public with malicious intentions." The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan's ruling party, has been accused by Zhu of dividing Taiwanese society and fostering hostility towards China, while intimidating and punishing media with differing views.

This situation highlights the ongoing struggle between Taiwan's efforts to combat Beijing's influence and China's persistent pressure campaign, which includes disinformation operations peaking during Taiwan's recent presidential elections.

Despite these challenges, Taiwan remains vigilant against such external interference to safeguard its democratic processes and media integrity.