This Saturday, the Taiwanese are called to the polls to elect more than 11,000 officials, ranging from heads of districts to the mayor of the capital, Taipei. These municipal elections are a test for the administration of Tsai Ing-wen. Elected in 2016 by an overwhelming majority, the president honnie by Beijing for its refusal of the principle of a “single China” is facing many challenges. The polls predict a decrease of its formation, the democratic progressive Party (DPP), as a result of unpopular reforms, such as the drop in pension and wage stagnation.
Separated since the end of the civil war in 1949 between the communists established in Beijing and the nationalists of the Kuomintang (KMT) refugees in Taipei, the two States have always refused to recognize their legitimacy reciprocal. The chinese regime considers the island de facto independent as a part of its territory may be annexed, while Taiwan has evolved into a vibrant and plural democracy at the turn of the 1990s. For the past two years, pressures from China have contributed to marginalizing a little more of Taiwan on the world stage.
“The misinformation is currently our greatest threat”
The battle for the mayor of Kaohsiung, a major port city in the south, crystallized the issues. Han Kuo-yu, a candidate of the party prochinois, would be set to win the municipality’s special, on a background of popular discontent. A return of the Kuomintang (KMT), after 20 years of absence, would be a blow to the executive branch in taiwan. Depopulated of its driving forces, exiled in Taipei or mainland China, the old industrial city suffering from an economy that is sluggish. And, more than elsewhere on the island, the pension reform has had a direct impact on the portfolio of many seniors.
But the rise is surprising, in a month, Han Kuo-yu could be due to another factor. From the month of October, voices are being raised about a possible interference of Beijing. According to statistics of Google Trends, the name of the candidate of the KMT has been mentioned three times more on the Internet than the one of Ko Wen-je, the very popular mayor of Taipei candidate to his succession. At the same time, an influx of abnormal messages that originate from the coastal provinces of China spilled over into the social networks, normally blocked on the mainland. With as common feature of incensing Han Kuo-yu, or to denigrate the government of Tsai Ing-wen.
Subvert democracy in taiwan
This would not be the first time that the communist regime tries to influence outcomes in its favour. In 1996, Beijing had tried to prevent the holding of the first presidential election by firing missiles in the strait separating the two rivals. Today, the chinese propaganda goes through Facebook, the chat application Line, and a discussion forum is very well known, PTT. The misinformation disseminated on this last tool has led, in September, the suicide of a diplomat from taiwan, posted in Japan. The man has not resisted the pressure after virulent criticism – based on false information – in relation to its management of tourists stranded on the archipelago.
According to the annual report of the board China United States of american Congress, published on 14 November, the China use social networks to create a “fake civil society”, in order to subvert the democracy in taiwan. “The misinformation is currently our biggest threat, due in October in Figaro , Francis Wu, the new representative of Taiwan in France. Social networks are immune to any oversight.” The return of the Kuomintang in Kaohsiung, which is home to the largest naval base in Taiwan would be a strategic victory for Beijing.