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China cyberattacks targeting Taiwan on the rise ahead of Lai inauguration

05/16/2024 08:10 PM
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Unsplash image for illustrative purpose
Unsplash image for illustrative purpose

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Cyberattacks targeting Taiwan's government websites have significantly risen in the months leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) on May 20, the country's top intelligence agency revealed Thursday.

National Security Bureau (NSB) data shows there have recently been more than 2.5 million rounds of cyberattacks launched daily by the Chinese side targeting different Taiwan government websites, an NSB official told a hearing at the legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Previously, following the Jan. 13 presidential and legislative elections, there had been around 1 million rounds of daily cyberattacks, the official added.

The NSB official refused to be named due to not wanting his identity to be revealed.

Other than the rising number of cyberattacks, no irregularities concerning the People's Liberation Army that could be a warning sign for Taiwan have been identified, NSB deputy chief Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨) told lawmakers during the same session.

Ko, however, added that the Chinese Communist Party is continuing to beef up its gray zone warfare on Taiwan, without elaborating.

Gray-zone tactics are generally defined as coercive actions that do not meet the threshold of conventional warfare.

Meanwhile, during the same legislative session, Vice Foreign Minister Remus Chen (陳立國) told lawmakers that Taiwan's Pacific ally Palau is scheduled to hold its general elections later this year.

Taiwan is now closely watching to see if China will try to intervene in those elections through economic coercion or other means, Chen said.

General elections are scheduled to be held in Palau in November. Sitting President Surangel Whipps Jr., who has been in power since 2021, is seeking a second term against former president Thomas Remengesau Jr.

Chen said China has a record of trying to influence the outcome of elections by trying to pay for media reports in countries Taiwan is allied with that spread false information.

He cited a previous example in Tuvalu, another Pacific ally. Chinese state-run media reportedly sent emails to Tuvalu media asking them to write news articles in an attempt to influence its January election.

Chen was referring to a Chinese-language Liberty Times report in January, which said it had seen a photo of an email sent from an account presumably belonging to someone at China Global Television Network -- a Chinese state media outlet -- to Tuvalu media.

The email asked that a senior person at the Tuvalu Broadcasting Corporation write an 800-word opinion piece focusing on the Tuvalu election and hinting that the country could cut ties with Taiwan. It also stated that there would be a payment of US$450 for the article.

(By Wu Sheng-hung and Joseph Yeh)

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