Taiwan’s response to controlling the spread of COVID-19 is one of the most effective in the world. In a virtual interview for the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s (CIGI’s) Global Platform Governance Network, Chris Beall, policy lead, platform governance, CIGI, speaks with Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang about the key factors that helped Taiwan manage the spread of the virus so well. Minister Tang highlights a number of factors including civic technology, government transparency and trustworthiness, deliberative democracy reliant on community involvement and shiba inu humour. They also examine how Taiwan’s same approach to COVID-19 can be used to manage the spread of dis- and misinformation more broadly.
Cui Lei, China Institute of International Studies
The situation across the Taiwan Strait has seemed to be on the brink of crisis since 2018. Beijing has sent numerous sorties of military aircraft to conduct exercises near Taiwan and frequently crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait. It has been rumoured that the mainland is considering seizing Taiwan’s outlying islands, suggesting that it is increasingly eager to take Taiwan by force.
Many prominent analysts believe that a crisis over Taiwan is brewing and that the chances of a war between China and Taiwan, which has the potential to involve the United States, over the next year is not insignificant.
It’s time for the United States to be “crystal clear” it will not allow China to invade Taiwan and will end its longstanding “strategic ambiguity” about whether it would come to the island’s defense, said Sen. Tom Cotton, a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Taiwan “is becoming the most dangerous flash point in the world for a possible war that involves the United States, China, and probably other major powers,” warn Robert D. Blackwill, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy, and Philip Zelikow, University of Virginia White Burkett Miller professor of history.
Taiwan has long defended itself from political meddling, including disinformation, by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Attempts to influence Taiwan’s domestic politics have increased in both intensity and severity following the election of Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, with Beijing continuing to target the basic underpinnings of Taiwan’s democratic system. The disinformation campaigns carried out by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are often obscured by the secrecy and opacity of the CCP’s “united front” approach, which makes it difficult to accurately diagnose and right-size the problem of disinformation, complicating efforts to craft effective solutions. While CCP disinformation campaigns pose a clearly identifiable threat to the United States and Taiwan, they are only one part of a larger disinformation problem facing democracies in this era of instant and omnipresent communication technologies. Indeed, the experience of both Taiwan and the United States suggest that rival political parties are incentivized to exaggerate and weaponize charges of “foreign interference” against each other—charges which often are more damaging to underlying trust levels in a democracy than the original foreign disinformation attacks themselves.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly continued large-scale warplane exercises near the island of Taiwan on Sunday by sending 15 warplanes, two more than on Saturday, as Chinese mainland analysts said Monday that the routine drills are becoming increasingly closer to real-life combat.