Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang has vowed that the government will ensure measures against Chinese propaganda are enforced to the fullest and that new rules are pushed to close loopholes.

Taiwanese lawmakers are demanding that the Ministry of Culture introduce rules to regulate activities by Chinese media outlets or those operating on the island owned by mainland entities, now that the sector is gearing up to cover January’s elections, when voters will select the next president and new legislators.

The Legislative Yuan is deliberating on a planned law against “agents of hostile foreign forces,” including reporters and academics exploiting the island’s freedoms to spread disinformation or meddle in local politics.

Specific rules are being considered to outlaw local and non-local media organizations from the mainland and Hong Kong that propagandize for China.

One incident that caused not a few raised eyebrows and subsequently sped up the bill was the fact more than 20 online news outlets on the island ran a statement by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office in July slamming President Tsai Ing-wen’s “irresponsible” remarks supporting the protests in Hong Kong.

Su said China would tap all avenues to annex Taiwan, including infiltrating Taiwanese media and using the island’s democracy and freedom against it.

Guidelines

The Ministry of Culture should also introduce guidelines for Chinese reporters working in Taiwan, as currently it only has guidelines for journalists from Hong Kong and Macau, he added.

Su has appointed Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai to convene a panel of agencies responsible for ensuring information security, including the defense ministry and national security agency, to formulate contingency plans and countermeasures including a partial shutdown of “recidivist” news outlets spreading fabricated content in the run-up to the elections, which are seen as vital for the country’s future.

It is believed that correspondents working for Xinhua, the People’s Daily and China Central Television and its spin-off China Global Television Network will be among the first batch subjected to extra checks when they apply for visas or visa extensions to cover the elections, as authorities seek to apply more red tape when assessing their applications.

Taiwanese papers also reported on Thursday that Taiwan’s immigration agency had already stepped up checks on visitors from Hong Kong and the mainland and were comparing their identities against a database of “high-risk individuals” updated from time to time to turn away troublemakers or those who may help Beijing infiltrate the Taiwanese society.

Last week, a revered clergyman in Hong Kong, who was in contact with a murder suspect wanted by Taiwan but released in Hong Kong, was banned from visiting the island due to sensitivities arising from his involvement in the case and the fact he is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body.

In the meantime, Su also said an online platform would be established to make public cross-strait academic exchanges after a group of 100 Taiwanese students reportedly participated in Beijing’s 70th anniversary celebrations and appeared on CCTV earlier this month.