QUAD’s Next Worry: China’s Information Warfare Against Taiwan

QUAD’s Next Worry: China’s Information Warfare Against Taiwan

by Swarajya Staff - Nov 26, 2022 01:13 PM +05:30 IST
QUAD’s Next Worry: China’s Information Warfare Against TaiwanPosters wishing Taiwan on National Day outside the Chinese Embassy (Aditya Raj Kaul/Twitter)

Beyond the aggressive military patrolling in the Taiwan Strait, Beijing is now going a step ahead in its preparation for the invasion of Taiwan.

Engaging in non-military warfare, Beijing, under President Xi Jinping, is now running misinformation campaigns and even psychological manipulation, according to a report released by a think tank under the Japanese Defense Ministry.

Beijing is cultivating social media platforms and the cyberspace as the next frontiers of conflict against Taiwan, as reported in Asia Nikkei

Further, the report states that the nature of the digital operations is highly diversified, ranging from influencing public opinion and perceptions to psychological warfare that includes legal threats and virtual intimidation.

Even during the Hong Kong protests, China deployed similar tactics to silence the protesters, both in the city and abroad, through the National Security Law. The sweeping dictatorial law extended to non-permanent residents of Hong Kong, with trials in mainland China. 

Along with the military operations, Beijing aims to deploy these tactics ahead of the potential invasion, as per the report by the think tank.

The report also affirmed what has been advocated by the Taiwanese government; that Beijing may attempt to takeover the island without an elaborate military operation, and before Washington could make a move.

Thus, the non-military operations and their impact cited by the report become even more worrisome in the current context. 

The report also mentions the Chinese Stragetic Support Force, created to run operations in the cyber realm. The force was a part of Xi’s military reforms ushered in 2015.

In total, Taiwan was hit by over 1.4 billion cyberattacks between September 2019 and August 2020, as per the report.

The attacks were carried out to destroy or steal data, and were targeted against political, civil, military, and economic entities. Some of the cyberattacks have also been directed towards TSMC, Taiwan’s crown jewel and the world’s biggest semiconductor player.

In the past, China’s non-military warfare against Taiwan has extended to the corporates as well. Apple, for instance, in all its financial declarations, includes Taiwan in the ‘Greater China’ region.

More recently, it was reported that shipments to China from Pegatron, one of the Taiwanese electronics manufacturers, were delayed.

According to reports that the company later denied, the boxes were held at Chinese customs for label examination. The authorities wanted to ensure that the words ‘Taiwan’ or 'Republic of China' were not used on the boxes.

The long-standing rule, now being enforced by the Chinese government more strictly, is that all the components and parts that are exported from Taiwan must be labelled as ‘Made In Taiwan, China’ or ‘Made in Chinese Taipei’ to ensure no hold-up at customs and consequently no delays in shipments. China is Taiwan’s biggest trading partner.

Furthermore, America’s hurried exit from Afghanistan and inability to contain the crisis in Ukraine is also allowing Beijing to look for a window for invasion in the Taiwan strait. 

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