Beijing Launches Psychological War Against Taiwan After COVID-19 Outbreak

May 21, 2021 Updated: May 21, 2021

Taiwanese government criticized the Chinese communist regime for using the island’s COVID-19 outbreak to attack the self-ruled island on May 19.

Beijing authorities made and spread fake information mixed with truth on Taiwan social media platforms and pro-Beijing Taiwanese media with a purpose to “deepening the conflicts among Taiwanese people,” “worsening the outbreak,” “reducing the whole society’s productive activities,” “damaging the economy and stock market,” and “frustrating Taiwanese people,” spokesman for the unicameral legislature of Taiwan Lo Ping-cheng said at a press conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei on Wednesday.

Lo said the acts of psychological warfare were performed by the network system department of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese Ministry of National Security, and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

Lo emphasized that the CCP’s disinformation being spread among Taiwanese is as bad as the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, and can only hurt the people and the society. He urged Taiwanese people to be aware of the psychological warfare and not let the fake news change their behavior. He also asked people not to share and spread it.

Seeding Disinformation and Fear

Taiwan started to suffer a new COVID-19 outbreak in May, and new cases of local transmission are still increasing in recent days. Capitalizing on people’s worries and fears, disinformation was seeded by the CCP. It was quickly spread by people on social media.

The Taiwanese government warned people that some of the rumors they are seeing were created by the CCP across the Taiwan Strait, in an act of psychological warfare.

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwanese president, on May 14 sought to clarify one rumor in a Facebook post, which claimed that disinfectants used by Taiwan’s Chemical Corps in Taipei and New Taipei City “are highly toxic,” causing many people to worry.

Tsai said that the “disinfectant used is 1:50 diluted bleach, which has no direct harm to the human body and can ensure the effectiveness of our disinfection effect.” She criticized the “many false messages” being circulated and said that the epidemic prevention team would make greater efforts to better explain its operations.

On May 16, Tsai urged people to only follow government notices because “there is too much information” being put out regarding the unfolding outbreak.

“We don’t know if they are true or false,” Tsai said.

covid-surge-in-taiwan
Medical workers prepare to perform COVID-19 rapid tests on residents, following an increasing number of locally transmitted cases in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 15, 2021. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Lo pointed to another example of psychological warfare during the press conference on May 19.

On May 17, Zhu Fenglian, the spokeswoman of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said at a press conference in Beijing: “A large number of Taiwanese compatriots are eagerly looking forward to using mainland China-made COVID-19 vaccines. The top priority of us is to remove the political barrier that Taiwanese government created and vaccinate the majority Taiwanese people with China-made vaccines.”

Chinese state-run media, Taiwanese pro-Beijing media, and Taiwanese pro-Beijing politicians then promoted Zhu’s statement.

Lo pointed out that what Zhu said wasn’t correct, and the CCP was trying to convince Taiwanese people that mainland China had successfully curbed the pandemic, and that the Taiwanese government hasn’t done well.

Meanwhile, authorities in numerous Chinese provinces are also dealing with their own local outbreaks of the CCP virus.

Professor Tung Li-wen from the Department of Public Security at Central Police University told The Epoch Times on May 20 that the Chinese regime attacks Taiwan by spreading fake news.

“Once there’s a significant development in Taiwan, the Chinese communist regime will strengthen its use of psychological warfare,” he said.

Tung listed the methods that the CCP uses: creating fake stories using content farms, using artificial intelligence to generate and spread the fake news, and organizing a large number of trolls to target Taiwanese people on social media platforms.

“They use extreme words to defame and discredit the efforts and achievements of the Taiwan government during the pandemic,” Tung said, like “Taiwan will collapse soon … even a lockdown of the cities won’t work.”

Tung said that, unfortunately, some Taiwanese people have believed the fake news, as the crafted messages are written in a way that is easily accepted by people.

Taiwan Outbreak

Epoch Times Photo
A homeless person (R) receives free facial masks and a bottle of alcohol for disinfection from a local resident in Ximen, a commercial zone, at the Wanhua District in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 19, 2021. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

Taiwan had barely any locally acquired CCP virus cases until the middle of May. On May 20, the government announced 286 newly diagnosed patients from 10 different cities and counties.

Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s Health Minister, told a press conference that 2,825 patients had been diagnosed in Taiwan since January 2020, with 1,103 of them being international arrivals. To date, 15 patients have died of COVID-19 in Taiwan.

Since May 15, the first day that over 100 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Taiwan, the majority of Taiwanese people in Taipei and New Taipei City—where most cases were reported—decided to stay at home without any requests from the government.

Now, both Taipei and New Taipei City have announced level three restrictions, requiring people to wear masks in public areas, limiting get-togethers to five people indoors or 10 people outdoors, and the recommended closing of non-essential businesses.