The relationship between Beijing and Taipei has been extremely tense for years. The election of a new president and parliament in Taiwan in January could be a game-changer.
Around two months before the elections in Taiwan, the island state’s National Security Council sees increasing efforts by China to influence the outcome in its favor. Beijing is waging a disinformation campaign, threatening the military and putting pressure on Taiwan’s economy, the authority in Taipei said.
The leadership of the People’s Republic wants to prevent Vice President William Lai from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) from winning the election, said Secretary General of the Security Council responsible for intelligence work, Wellington Koo. China considers the democratic island republic to be part of its territory and has repeatedly openly threatened a violent takeover of power.
In Taiwan, the head of state and parliament will be elected on January 13, 2024. The party of Lai and incumbent Tsai Ing-wen, who is no longer running after two terms in office, is leading the polls by a significant margin. Behind them are the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), which wants to hold talks with China again and is therefore likely to be the preferred election winner from Beijing’s perspective. So far, however, the KMT and the TPP have not been able to agree to form an alliance to pose a threat to the DPP.
Beijing targets Taiwanese entrepreneur
China and Taiwan are separated from each other by a strait. The Communist Party in Beijing sees the island nation as part of China, which historically goes back to the Chinese civil war in the first half of the 20th century. Taiwan has had an independent government for decades. China threatens to invade and repeatedly demonstrates its power with large military exercises.
According to government official Koo, Beijing wants to dissuade the founder of the major Taiwanese company Foxconn from running in the presidential election by putting pressure on his company. This is intended to prevent billionaire Terry Gou, who is far behind in polls and whose company is one of the largest private employers in China, from stealing votes from other opposition candidates. Chinese authorities announced on October 22 that Apple supplier Foxconn would be subject to a tax audit. The final list of election candidates will be announced on November 24th.
Disinformation on social media
In addition, according to Koo, China is deliberately spreading false information about living conditions in Taiwan on social media such as Tiktok. This was intended to turn Taiwanese voters against the ruling DPP. Instead of blocking the platforms, Taiwanese authorities tried to correct the false claims, Koo said. “We trust the democratic resilience and media literacy of Taiwanese citizens.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.