Taiwan: Countering PRC influence

Taiwan: Countering PRC influence

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in May 2019 that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has stepped up efforts to infiltrate and gain influence in the self-ruled and democratic island and asked national security agencies to counter the campaign.

Tsai, speaking to reporters after a national security meeting, said the PRC’s influence operations included attempts to interfere with elections and fake news campaigns. Taiwan holds presidential elections in January 2020. She did not give details of specific incidents but said Taiwan’s national security agencies would be finding ways to tackle China’s moves. Tsai also said Taiwan would deter military aggression in the Taiwan Strait, vowing to boost defense capabilities, including upgrading military equipment and a recently launched program to build submarines. “The Chinese Communist Party continues to demonstrate provocative actions in the Taiwan Strait, destroying the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Tsai said.

Her comments followed a spike in cross-strait tensions in April 2019 when the PRC’s military staged extensive drills with warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft around the island. Taiwan scrambled jets to monitor the drills, which a senior U.S. official at the time described as “coercion” and a threat to regional stability.

Beijing suspects Tsai is pushing for the island’s formal independence and has steadily stepped up political and military pressure. Any formal independence move is a red line for the PRC, which considers Taiwan its sacred territory. Tsai, pictured, said she wants to maintain the status quo with the PRC but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.

Legislators in the United States have voiced concern about the PRC’s coercive activities. The U.S. House of Representatives in May 2019 unanimously backed legislation supporting Taiwan as members of the U.S. Congress pushed for a sharper approach to relations with Beijing.  Reuters