New research shows China's interference in recent Taiwan elections

10/29/2020 05:20 PM
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Image for illustrative purpose only (source: Pixabay.com)
Image for illustrative purpose only (source: Pixabay.com)

Sydney, Oct. 29 (CNA) China has been found to be one of the most active states worldwide engaged in cyber operations over the past decade to disrupt elections and referendums in other countries, including Taiwan, according to a report released Wednesday by an Australian government-funded think tank.

In particular, China has directed its cyberattacks against incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her Democratic Progressive Party, the research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) found.

Specifically, the Chinese government launched cyber-enabled interference in Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections in 2012 and 2020 and its local government elections in 2018, the ASPI said in the report titled "Cyber-enabled foreign interference in elections and referendums."

"China has developed interference strategies similar to Russia, such as blatantly destabilizing the general information environment in targeted countries with obvious mistruths and conspiracy theories," according to the report, which was based on research into 41 elections and seven referendums between January 2010 and October 2020 in countries where cyber-enabled foreign interference was reported.

In the report, the ASPI said the same foreign state actors continue to pursue foreign election interference, potentially undermining the integrity of elections and referendums and trust in public and democratic institutions.

While Russia and China are the two dominant players in those kinds of activities, Iran and North Korea have also been involved since 2019, and all four countries have been seeking to interfere in the United States 2020 presidential election, using different cyber-enabled tactics, according to the ASPI research.

The ASPI said its research relied on open-source information, including media reports from local, national, and international outlets, policy papers, academic research, and public databases.

This methodology may have led to "the underreporting of cases and a skewing towards English-language and mainstream media sources," the ASPI said.

The think tank, established by the Australian government in 2001, is partly funded by the country's Department of Defence, according to the ASPI website.

(By Chiu Te-chen and Louis Liu)

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