Taiwan and CCP political warfare: A blueprint

Taiwan serves as a “testing ground” for CCP interference tactics. Many of the tools and methods that prove effective could eventually be used in other societies.


Taiwan is a perfect case study for multifaceted political warfare efforts against a democratic society by an authoritarian regime. Many of the tactics used against the democratic island-nation and its government today are derived from, and exhibit refinements of, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP, 中國共產黨) “Underground Front” activities in Hong Kong in the lead-up to and following the territory’s return to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in July 1997. Tellingly, the terms offered by Beijing for the “peaceful reunification” of Taiwan are almost identical to those that have been applied for Hong Kong’s Retrocession and the creation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR, 中華人民共和國香港特別行政區), i.e., “one country, two systems” (一國兩制). In fact that framework, devised by Beijing in the early 1980s, was initially intended for Taiwan and subsequently adopted for the former British colony.

While political warfare efforts against Taiwan have been a reality since the conclusion of the Civil War in 1949 and the retreat to the island of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣中正) Nationalist (KMT, 中國國民黨) regime, the marked intensification of such insidious activities in recent years has coincided with the realization by the CCP that “soft” and “hard” power — the simultaneous application of economic incentives and outright military coercion — have failed in their aim to convince the Taiwanese of the appeal of “peaceful unification” or of the futility of resistance. Two crucial developments have compelled the CCP United Front and intelligence apparatus to accentuate their active measures, or “sharp power,” efforts against the island-nation. One is the emergence, and consolidation, of Taiwan’s democracy from the late 1980s onwards, which has acted as a virtual “firewall” against rapid and socially unaccountable change that can only be brought about in authoritarian and totalitarian systems. The internalization of democratic rules by Taiwan’s main political parties, as well as a vibrant civil society that has repeatedly mobilized whenever Taiwanese authorities were suspected of engaging in activities which threatened to compromise Taiwan’s sovereignty and the integrity of its institutions, have consistently frustrated, and perhaps even confused, the CCP, whose inability to dictate the terms in the Taiwan Strait and to control a territory’s destiny has compelled it to embark on strategy which is directly aimed at breaking the democratic “firewall.” Conversely, the freedoms afforded by democracy have also created openings for hybrid tactics by the CCP to undermine Taiwanese society. The second is the coming to power of CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), who immediately ramped up the scope of United Front work (統戰工作) worldwide.1

Moreover, as China transformed from a regional into a global actor of influence, a secondary aspect of China’s interference activities has been to use Taiwan as a “testing ground” for political warfare, a laboratory for adaptation and improvement on political warfare instruments which can then be unleashed against other targeted democratic societies.

CCP aims and toolkit

The aims of PRC political warfare against Taiwan are manifold and can be narrowed down to five main categories:

  1. corrode, bypass and manipulate democratic institutions, elections, and public trust therein;
  2. undermine morale of the targeted society and weaken resistance to Beijing’s objectives by exacerbating feelings of abandonment, isolation and inevitability;
  3. sow confusion, exacerbate divisions and contradictions within society;
  4. co-opt elites, businesspeople, politicians, retired military officers, civil society, and the media; and
  5. coerce the CCP’s opponents.

The CCP United Front apparatus seeks to atomize, “Lebanonize” or “balkanize” Taiwanese society and its body politics. One key goal is to bypass central state and government institutions — especially, but not limited to, the current Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration (2016-) — and directly capture local politicians, municipal leaders, grassroots organizations, the agricultural and fisheries sectors, the tourism industry, land development; and create associations via United Front-linked local proxies with counterparts in China, such as the Tainan Cross-Strait Exchange Promotion Association (台南市兩岸交流協會) and the “Cross-Strait Taiwan Guangdong Exchange Association (台粵交流協會會).2

Trade, tourism and cultural exchanges as political weapons

Beijing has also weaponized trade by bypassing municipalities that are governed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) through tourism/investment denial, while rewarding those that recognize the so-called “1992 consensus” or are governed by politicians whom the CCP believes it can work with.3 Rewards include all-expenses-paid junkets for such officials to Beijing and other parts of China for meetings with top CCP officials, investment delegations from China, increases in tourism, massive purchases of agricultural produce at premium prices, and so on. Such municipalities have also been “rewarded” by being allowed to organize cultural events and concerts with partner cities in China. In many cases, organizers on the Chinese side have included organizations with suspected ties to the CCP’s United Front Work department.4

CCP organs, such as the Communist Youth League (中國共產主義青年團) and others, with the assistance of ultranationalistic Netizens and cyber armies, have also launched a campaign to identify and shame Taiwanese members of the entertainment industry who are alleged supporters of Taiwanese independence; such targets are then compelled to issue public apologies and identify themselves as “Chinese.”5 Failure to comply to such demands has resulted in the removal from roles in films funded by China as well as the cancellation of concerts in China.

Political parties, organized crime and other proxies

United Front efforts have also taken advantage of the inherent leniency of Taiwan’s democracy by supporting a number of political parties, chief among them the China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP, 中華統一促進黨), New Party (新黨) and the Taiwan Red Party (中國台灣紅黨 ─ 红黨),6 to promote the unification agenda and “one country, two systems” formula. Those parties, which are legally registered and can field candidates in elections, have questionable sources of funding which have resulted in police raids and longstanding investigations.7 Under Taiwan law, it is illegal for a political party to receive funding from the PRC or the CCP. The CUPP in particular has been the target of investigations to establish where its funding comes from. Its leadership denies any illegal funding, though it is suspected that it may be using companies in China, Taolue Group (韜略集團) and its subsidiary, Strategic Sports Ltd (韜略運動器材), to recycle CCP money. Other possible sources of funding for the CUPP and other pro-unification groups include proceeds from criminal activities (e.g., prostitution, drugs, debt collection, underground gambling and more “legitimate” business activities), Buddhist temples (most of the incense comes from China, and their creative finances benefit from poor oversight by the state), donations by CCP “front” companies, and by participation at “cross-Strait developments forums” co-organized by United Front organizations worldwide — e.g., the New York chapter of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Unification (CCPPR, 紐約中國和平統一促進會) and the U.S.-China Cultural Exchange Society (美國美中文化交流促進會). Regional groups, such as the Bangkok-based Asian Association for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (AAPPRC, 亞洲地區中國和平統一促進會聯合總會) and local affiliates may also be involved in fundraising for pro-CCP groups and political parties in Taiwan.

Moreover, some political parties, such as the CUPP, have a history of collaboration with pro-Beijing organized crime, chief among them the Bamboo Union (竹聯幫) and the Four Seas Gang (四海幫) “mainlander” triads. The founder of the CUPP, Chang An-le (張安樂, aka “White Wolf”), is a former head of the CUPP and served a 10-year prison sentence in the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges. Chang was also once on Taiwan’s most-wanted list of criminals but somehow eluded arrest after he returned to Taiwan in June 2013 after being a fugitive in China for a decade and a half. The CUPP has been involved in violent protests and intimidation of civil society, and during the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration (2008-2016) often hired muscle from local gangs (角头) to provide extra security for visiting CCP officials. Organized crime such as the Bamboo Union and Four Seas Gang have access to and traffic in firearms.8 The CUPP and its symbiotic ally, the Bamboo Union, also have control of a taxi company which has been used to transport controversial individuals.

Pro-unification parties in Taiwan also collaborate with a constellation of ideologically aligned “civic organizations” (e.g., Concentric Patriotism Association, 中華愛國同心會) in promoting their agenda, organizing protests and, on occasion, using intimidation or violence against elected officials and their opponents within civil society.9 In some instances, they have coordinated their efforts with likeminded groups in Hong Kong to protest against, intimidate and assault visiting pro-localization and -democracy activists from the HKSAR.10

Buddhist temples are also suspected of involvement in United Front activities through visits to and exchanges with China, where pro-unification ideology is drummed into visitors, often with involvement by the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO, 國務院臺灣事務辦公室). Money transfers, co-optation of religious figures and their followers are likely areas for exploitation by the CCP. Buddhist temples are also highly penetrated by organized crime. According to the organizers, not one Buddhist faction in Taiwan agreed to participate in the Asia Religious Freedom Forum in Taipei earlier this year, a high-profile event co-sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the U.S. State Department.

Electoral interference

In the lead-up to elections in Taiwan, the CCP has increasingly supported “outlier” candidates it can better control, either “independent” or marginal/populist voices within existing parties. Its efforts have been bolstered by extensive coverage in pro-Beijing media. Frustrated with the main parties’ embrace of democratic norms, Beijing has sought to erode/bypass longstanding checks and balances within established political parties. To do so, it is suspected of providing funding for preferred candidates, political parties and civil society. Such funds are believed to be made available via Hong Kong, “dual use” Chinese companies (this includes a Taipei 101-located firm11, which according to comments by a Chinese defector to Australia was allegedly involved12 in unspecified efforts to influence elections in Taiwan), Taiwanese companies with a presence in China, as well as hard cash brought by couriers (e.g., businesspeople on visits across the Taiwan Strait). Weeks before the Nov. 24, 2018, “nine in one” local elections in Taiwan, the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (法務部調查局) revealed it had launched investigations into 33 cases of suspected Chinese funding of various candidates, with evidence that the money was coming directly from the Chinese government. In most cases, the funds were reportedly funneled to candidates favored by Beijing via Taiwanese businesspeople with operations in China.13 Underground gambling is also believed to have been a factor in those elections, in which the ruling DPP lost a large number of municipalities. Special attention also appears to be given to local officials (legislators, city councilors, borough chiefs) from small parties or running as independent candidates, often by granting them and their family members preferential access to the Chinese market, experimental trade zones, and so on.14 Although active measures may not in and of themselves have dictated the outcome, there is reason to believe that, in conjunction with other factors, they may have exacerbated trends which ended up favoring candidates whom Beijing regards favorably. Finally, suspicions of external interference can also undermine the legitimacy of electoral outcomes with the public and contribute to social tensions as well as loss of faith in electoral processes and democracy in general.15

Youth capture, brain drain and the ‘ghost island’

The CCP has also launched attempts to capture/indoctrinate students, academics, teachers and professors through all-expenses-paid trips to China, where they receive briefings by CCP officials. The extent to which such attempts at co-optation succeeds in furthering Beijing’s political objectives remains a matter of dispute. Alongside such activities, the CCP has sought to exacerbate a loss of faith in Taiwan’s economy through propaganda, disinformation, and the propagation of the negatively connotated meme “ghost island” (鬼島) to refer to the low wages and alleged lack of opportunities for Taiwan’s youth. It has also endeavored to compound trends and perceptions through efforts to lure Taiwanese talent and intensify Taiwan’s “brain drain” by offering much-publicized preferential (or “equal”) treatment to targeted Taiwanese (e.g., “31 incentives,” 對台31項措施)16 and 26 additional measures unveiled in November 2019.17

Weaponizing media and dis/misinformation

Another major rung in CCP political warfare efforts against Taiwan is the co-optation of media. In early 2019, it was revealed that the Want Want China Holdings (中國旺旺控股有限公司) had received upwards of US$495 million in subsidies from the People’s Republic of China since 2007 via its holdings company in Hong Kong.18 Despite the company’s denial that the funding has influenced the editorial line of the media controlled by the Want Want China Times Media Group (旺旺中時媒體集團),19 a telling convergence of those outlets’ ideological stance with that of the CCP has nevertheless been observed. Other Taiwanese media have also adopted an editorial stance that suggests outside influence. Their participation in cross-Strait media fora (see below) has also drawn attention to this problem. Such efforts have resulted in censorship (e.g., the China Times has reportedly cleansed all reports that directly reference the Tiananmen Square Massacre from its archives),20 anti-government disinformation, and support for ostensibly pro-Beijing candidates through saturation. Big business/advertisement placement/denial has also been used to promote self-censorship on the part of media beholden to China. Such media have played a key role in manufacturing the popularity of certain Beijing-friendly political candidates through saturation.

Want Want Chairman Tsai Eng-meng 蔡衍明, Taiwan’s second-wealthiest individual who has made a fortune in China and acquired the China Times media consortium in 2008, has been intimately involved in cross-Strait media forums. Four “Cross-Strait Media People Summits” (兩岸媒體人峰會) have been held in Beijing since 2015. The first year, a total of 34 representatives from Taiwan participated in the summit. By May 2019, more than 70 did, from the print, TV, magazines, new media, film, and publishing sectors.21 The chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC, 中國人民政治協商會議), Wang Yang 汪洋, told participants it was their “responsibility” to promote “peaceful reunification,” the “1992 consensus” and the “one country, two systems” formula (「宣揚九二共識、支持和平、支持統一」). Delegates also reportedly signed a series of “cooperation agreements.”22

The Want Want Group has also been actively involved in organizing cross-Strait cultural forums used to indoctrinate targeted participants on the Taiwan side and create opportunities for contact. Partners have included the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC, 中華能源基金委員會), a now defunct Hong Kong-based “think tank” funded by the Shanghai-based CEFC Energy Co Ltd (中國華信), the China Institute of Culture Limited (CIOC, 中國文化院),23 another CEFC subsidiary, and many organizations with well documented ties to United Front Work Department or PLA political warfare units, among them the China Association for Friendly International Contact (CAIFC, 中國國際友好聯絡會), Nishan Forum on World Civilizations (尼山世界文明論壇) and the Fujian-based 311 Base (61716 Unit).24 Before its demise following the arrest of Patrick Ho Chi-ping 何志平 in New York in late November 2017 on conspiracy and bribery charges involving UN officials,25 CEFC was involved in the co-optation of academics, government officials (active and retired), the UN, as well as businesspeople and heads of state worldwide (U.S., Taiwan, Czech Republic, Georgia, Myanmar and elsewhere), promoting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s territorial claims in East/South China Seas, and Beijing’s Taiwan policy.

The PRC has used legal measures, or the threat thereof, to silence critics. China Times Group media outlets have been used as vehicle for the targeting of Beijing critics (e.g., CEFC in its case against the author, or Han supporters’ attacks on critics in the China Times newspaper, on CTiTV talk shows, etc).

New online media, such as Master Chain Media (大師鏈), that have emerged since 2018 have also received Beijing’s blessing. Besides being the first Taiwanese media to be officially accredited by Beijing, Master Chain Media counts among its senior employees a handful of retired top military and intelligence officers from Taiwan’s National Security Bureau (NSB) and Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB).26 Beijing, often working through firms based or registered in Hong Kong, has also sought to co-opt influencers—well known personalities with millions of followers on YouTube or Facebook channels. Public figures who refused to play along have seen their contracts cancelled.

Besides state-owned media such as Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, Global Times and the China Association for Promotion of Chinese Culture (CAPCC, 中華文化發展促進會)27-linked China Review News (CRN, 中國評論通訊社), pro-unification groups in China, Taiwan and elsewhere have exploited Facebook,28 social media (e.g., Line groups, WeChat (Weixin QQ)), microblogging sites and content farms/mills29 to generate and spread disinformation aimed at undermining support on the Tsai administration,30 widening social divisions and promoting “peaceful reunification” and “one country, two systems.” To date, dozens of such sites, which increasingly employ Taiwanese to generate more “credible” content, have been uncovered. There are also signs of automation and/or coordination on Facebook and in social media, and such platforms have also been used to swarm and bully Beijing critics or opponents of candidates favored by the CCP. Complicit traditional media have in turn provided coverage intended to legitimize disinformation. A vulnerable media environment, where poor corroboration practices, circular corroboration and overworked journalists are the norm, has exacerbated the problem. Disinformation has also been used to overwhelm and exhaust the Taiwanese government by compelling it to respond and debunk “fake news.”

Disinformation has been most successful when it has a basis in truth and exacerbates divisions and contradictions within society and parties, encouraging polarization between the “green” (DPP) and “blue” (KMT) as well as within both camps. Some overlap has also been observed with controversies and groups that are opposed to certain government policies (e.g., pension reform, same-sex marriage legislation. There is reason to believe that such groups have been infiltrated by the CCP; they have also rallied in their support for Beijing’s favorite candidates for the 2020 presidential election, who among closer ties with China have also vowed to overturn pension reform and same-sex marriage.

Imagery disinformation, such as that used by the official People’s Liberation Army Air Force PLA (PLAAF) Weibo account posting images which suggested passage by H-6K bombers near Taiwan landmarks (e.g., Jade Mountain), has also been used as part of a psychological warfare campaign to exacerbate feelings of helplessness and of the inability of the Taiwanese military to defend the sovereignty of Taiwan.

Other measures

There is reason to believe that the CCP has been attempting to split the Taiwanese pro-independence movement and “green” camp in ways similar to the penetration of Uyghur, Tibetan and Chinese democracy activists worldwide. Such efforts have relied on a combination of co-optation, intimidation, and disinformation.

Beijing has also resorted to the kidnapping of Taiwanese nationals, such as Lee Ming-che 李明哲, a democracy activist,31 to pressure the Taiwanese government. Overreaction on Taipei’s part can provide Beijing the justification it needs to escalate; conversely, a perceived lack of interest or mishandling by the Taiwanese government can serve to delegitimize the administration and foster divisions within a political party (DPP) and with civil society, or highlight the “powerlessness” of a targeted government.

Abroad, United Front organs have sought to co-opt academics, journalists, retired military personnel, intelligence officers and politicians to encourage the abandonment of Taiwan, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and arms sales in papers, talks and at academic conferences (related areas include Japanese rearmament and China’s territorial claims in East/South China Sea). Co-optation has mainly occurred through access, all-expenses-paid trips to China, conferences, lucrative positions at PRC firms, casinos, etc.

Taiwan’s response

Countering Chinese political warfare has proven to be a great challenge to the Taiwanese government. For one thing, pro-Beijing elements, including some of the would-be candidates in the 2020 elections, have used democracy against itself to create a “moral equivalence” by depicting any measure and legislative amendment adopted by the government to address hostile external influences as “undemocratic.” If successful, such efforts can devaluate democracy and create opportunities for the CCP to appeal to the masses on other topics (e.g, economy, efficiency, etc).

Efforts to counter Chinese “sharp power” have been complicated by legislative blind spots, including problems caused by the inability, due to the Republic of China Constitution, to categorize the PRC as an “enemy state.” Those shortcomings are in the process of being addressed at the Legislative Yuan. Amendments to the Criminal Code, for example, will help law enforcement and intelligence agencies take action against individuals who collude with enemy forces in China, Macau, Hong Kong and elsewhere.32 Several bills have also been proposed by DPP legislators. Media literacy and awareness campaigns, apps that can flag disinformation, and ramped up legal punitive measures against media that willingly generate or spread disinformation are also in the process of being formulated and/or implemented.

Another challenge has been that much of the evidence collected to date is circumstantial, although recent revelations in Australian media based on information provided by a purported Chinese defector have lent much credibility to the claims made over the years.33 The accumulated evidence may be highly suggestive of CCP involvement and orchestration, but more needs to be done to expose such activities in a manner that is convincing to the public. Among other things, the Taiwanese government should find ways to sanitize and make public a report that presents the full extent of the threat. Greater coordination, arguably at the National Security Council (NSC, 國家安全會議) level, of the many ongoing efforts to identify, track and counter active measures, will also be necessary. More resource allocation to branches of government like the NSB and the MJIB as well as civil society, from the central government or through external funding, will be needed as well to ensure the long-term sustainability of Taiwan’s counter-influence strategy. Like other democratic societies, Taiwan is still in the process of identifying the challenge of authoritarian influence. Although it can share some lessons with its partners within the international community, it would be highly premature, despite expectations in some circles, to assume that it has found solutions to the problem. More information sharing among democracies, and more openness to learning from others, will be essential. Finally, besides having the legal tools to take action against united front efforts, the political will in the upper echelons of government, at the NSC and the Presidential Office, will be needed. Taking action will require some risk-taking and flack from critics, but given that foreign active measures pose an existential threat to Taiwan, governments should not shy away from taking appropriate action.

J. Michael Cole (MA, War Studies, Royal Military College of Canada) is a Taipei-based senior fellow with the Global Taiwan Institute (GTI) in Washington, D.C., senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) in Ottawa, Canada, senior fellow with the Taiwan Studies Program at the University of Nottingham, UK, and an associate researcher with the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC). He is chief editor of Taiwan Sentinel and the Taiwan Democracy Bulletin, published by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD). Prior to relocating to Taiwan in 2005, he was an analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in Ottawa. His latest book, 《島嶼無戰事2︰難以迴避的價值抉擇》(The End of the Illusion: Cross-Strait Relations Since 2016), was published in July 2019.

  1. See Groot, Gerry, The Expansion of the United Front Under Xi Jinping, ANU Press, 2016. See also Joske, Alex, “Reorganizing the United Front Work Department: New Structures for a New Era of Diaspora and Religious Affairs Work,” China Brief Volume 19 Issue 9, Jamestown Foundation, May 9, 2019.↩︎
  2. 白狼的統促黨比你想的更接地氣!宮廟、農漁會、深綠鄉鎮都有它 : 天下, 2018-08-13.↩︎
  3. China to work with ‘1992 consensus’ areas: delegation,” Taipei Times / CNA, Oct. 16, 2016. See also Cheng, Ting-fang and Lauly Li, “Taiwan’s pro-Beijing mayors spur hopes of Chinese tourist boom,” Nikkei Asian Review, Jan. 13, 2019.↩︎
  4. See for example Hsiao, Alison, “‘Sing! China’ Controversy Sheds Light on China’s United Front Tactics,” Taiwan Democracy Bulletin, Sept. 26, 2017.↩︎
  5. See Dou, Eva, and Jenny Hsu, “K-Pop Singer’s Apology Strikes a Chord in Taiwan’s Election,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17, 2016, and Lew, Linda, “Taiwanese actress Tiffany Ann Hsu apologises for liking post insulting mainland Chinese,” South China Morning Post, April 12, 2019.↩︎
  6. The lesser known Taiwan Red Party was created in Taichung on March 25, 2017. It states in its declaration that it aims to “integrate the majority of Taiwanese farmers and fishermen” (「統合廣大農漁工」). Historically, those have been areas of KMT influence.↩︎
  7. Wang Yang-yu and S.C. Chang, “Prosecution probes sources of pro-China party’s funds,” Focus Taiwan, Aug. 7, 2018.↩︎
  8. Cole, J. Michael, “Nice Democracy You’ve Got There. Be a Shame If Something Happened to It,” Foreign Policy, June 18, 2018.↩︎
  9. Groups include the Peace and Development Research Center (四川國際和平與發展研究中心), the National Society of Taiwan Studies (全國台灣研究會), the China Painting Academy for Friendly Contact (中國友聯畫院), the Alliance for Unification of China (中國統一聯盟 (統盟)), China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification (Taiwan) (CPPRC, 中國和平統一促進會 (台灣)), the Chinese Democratic Progressive Party (中國民主進步黨), the Cross-Strait Integration Society (兩岸統合學), the Chinese Huangpu Four Seas Alliance Association (中華黃埔四海同心會), the China People’s Democratic Unification Association (中國全民民主統一會), the Cross Strait Unification Association (海峽兩岸統一促進會), the Taiwan Cross Strait Peaceful Development Association (台海兩岸和平發展研究會), the Taiwan One Country Two Systems Studies Association (台灣一國兩制研究協會), the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands (中國民間保衛釣魚台聯合會), and the Chinese Association for Political Party Liaison (中華政黨聯誼會). Many of them were created in 2008 or 2009.↩︎
  10. Mok, Danny and Clifford Lo, “Nathan Law attacked at Hong Kong International Airport by pro-China protesters,” South China Morning Post, Jan. 9, 2017. See also, Miu Chung-han, Wang Cheng-chung and Christie Chen, “Violence erupts as Hong Kong activist, lawmakers visit Taiwan,” Focus Taiwan, Jan. 7, 2017.↩︎
  11. Liu Shih-yi, Wang Cheng-chung, Chiu Te-chen and Elizabeth Hsu, “Hong Kong firm executives stopped at Taiwan airport amid spy probe,” Focus Taiwan, Nov. 25, 2019.↩︎
  12. Nick McKenzie, Paul Sakkal and Grace Tobin, “Defecting Chinese spy offers information trove to Australian government,” The Age , Nov. 25, 2019.↩︎
  13. 調查局長呂文忠:有中資金援特定候選人 : Liberty Times, Oct. 22, 2018.↩︎
  14. Cole, J. Michael, “Candidate Claims ‘Nobody Loves Taiwan More Than Xi Jinping,’,” Taiwan Sentinel, Oct. 21, 2019.↩︎
  15. Wang Cheng-chung and William Yen, “China may try to influence Taiwan public opinion in 2020: NSB,” Focus Taiwan, April 22, 2019.↩︎
  16. See for example, Chung, Lawrence, “Taipei faces brain drain as Beijing dangles ‘equal status’ offers,” South China Morning Post, March 6, 2018.↩︎
  17. China adds 26 more incentives to lure Taiwanese talent, enterprises,” Radio Taiwan International, Nov. 4, 2019.↩︎
  18. Kawase, Kenji, “Chinese subsidies for Foxconn and Want Want spark outcry in Taiwan,” Nikkei Asian Review, April 30, 2019. See also Cole, J. Michael, “An Analysis of Possible Chinese Influence Operations Against Taiwan: The Want-Want Case,” Prospect Foundation, May 6, 2019.↩︎
  19. The Want Want China Times Media Group operates the China Times (中國時報), Commercial Times (工商時報), CtiTV (中天電視), and China Television (中國電視公司). Want Want, which made a fortune selling food products in China, also operates hotels in various Chinese cities including Shanghai, Nanjing, Huai’an and Xining.↩︎
  20. 中國時報下架六四相關報導 對外沒有回應 : CNA, June 13, 2019.↩︎
  21. 汪洋狂言「台灣當局2年後的事都保證不了」台媒高層聽訓陪笑 : Up Media, May 10, 2019.↩︎
  22. 兩岸媒體人峰會 肩負社會責任 : China Times, May 11, 2019.↩︎
  23. See Cole, J. Michael, “Unstoppable: China’s Secret Plan to Subvert Taiwan,” National Interest, March 23, 2015. The CIOC is now known as the China Academy of Culture Limited. In 2016, CEFC initiated legal action against this author in Taiwan court, requesting, among other things, that the article be deleted. The case was thrown out by the Taiwan District Court in February 2018.↩︎
  24. Also known as the Public Opinion, Psychological Operations, and Legal Warfare Base (輿論戰心理戰法律戰基地).↩︎
  25. Marsh, Jenni, “Disgraced former Hong Kong politician jailed for 3 years for bribing African leaders at the UN,” CNN, March 26, 2019.↩︎
  26. 台灣這家媒體竟能插旗北京 明邀連戰、吳斯懷見證 : Liberty Times, Dec. 3, 2019.↩︎
  27. The CAPCC is a key platform of the Political Work Department (中央軍委政治工作部) under the Central Military Commission (CMC, 中央軍事委員會) headed by Xi Jinping. It is actively involved in the promotion of a cross-strait “peace accord” and “re-unification.”↩︎
  28. For example, e.g., 愛與和平旗袍會台灣總會, 中华复兴论坛 Chinese Revival Forum, Taiwanese Chinese Heart (台灣人中國心) and 炎黃子孫 團結奮起共築 中國夢.↩︎
  29. E.g., COCO01, COCO0X, Read01.com, kknews.cc.↩︎
  30. E.g., the ostensibly “neutral” “What the government doesn’t dare to let you know” (政府不敢讓你知道的事) forum.↩︎
  31. China jails Taiwan activist Lee Ming-che for ‘subversion’,” BBC, Nov. 28, 2017.↩︎
  32. Wang Yang-yu and Evelyn Kao, “Legislature amends treason law to include collusion with China,” Focus Taiwan, May 7, 2019.↩︎
  33. Nick McKenzie, Paul Sakkal and Grace Tobin. “Defecting Chinese spy offers information trove to Australian government,” The Age, Nov. 25, 2019.↩︎