China’s “No Eggs” Propaganda Fails To Dent Voters; Report Claims Beijing Tried Its Best To Undo Taiwan Elections

The Chinese propaganda machinery went into overdrive before Taiwan’s recent general election and spread wild rumors ranging from egg shortages, the country’s submarine production, and political & sex scandals to create confusion and sow doubts among Taiwanese, according to Reuters News Agency. 

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In the run-up to Taiwan’s January 2024 general election, unsubstantiated reports circulated about outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen’s alleged plans to escape the island aboard a US military aircraft in the event of conflict with China. It has now been disclosed that Chinese state media spread these reports.

These claims, first published in 2021 and recently echoed, suggest that President Tsai had made preparations for her escape, including providing confidants with VIP “runaway” passes. But the veracity of these reports remains highly questionable.

Reuters, citing an analysis conducted by the Information Environment Research Center (IORG), a non-governmental organization based in Taiwan, reported that these narratives originated from Chinese state media outlets, particularly those controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

The analysis revealed that the idea of Tsai planning to flee in the event of a conflict with China and Taiwan’s military drills being portrayed as rehearsals for such an event emerged as early as June 2021.

Tsai Ing-wen, Outgoing President of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

IORG identified a specific instance on June 10, 2021, when the Fujian Daily labeled a US military C-17 transport plane that had visited Taiwan that month as a “runaway plane” for Taiwan’s leadership.

The Taiwanese government has vehemently denied these reports, stating that they are false and unsubstantiated. It has not publicly disclosed any plans for the leadership in the event of a conflict.

Independent verification of these purported escape plans has been challenging, with the reporter unable to confirm their existence.

IORG, comprised of social scientists and data analysts funded by academic institutions and organizations supported by Britain and the United States, found over 400 stories perpetuating the narrative that Taiwan’s military exercises were preparation for leadership desertion. 

IORG argues that Beijing is deliberately trying to undermine Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

In response, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office dismissed IORG’s research as “fabricated and ill-intentioned,” accusing the DPP of engaging in “cognitive warfare” by disseminating misinformation. The office alleged that the DPP had created a misinformation supply chain that damaged cross-strait relations.

Despite these efforts, the DPP’s Lai Ching-te won the presidential election on January 13, 2024, although the party lost its parliamentary majority. Lai, who will take office on May 20, has reiterated his commitment to maintaining the status quo and not seeking independence from China.

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Over the past decade, Beijing has consistently aimed its cyberwarfare, disinformation campaigns, and other influence tactics at Taiwan, intensifying these efforts, especially during election periods. 

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Several reports disclosed that Taiwan has been the primary target of foreign-originated disinformation. During Taiwan’s January 2024 general election, disinformation campaigns included amplifying controversies related to egg shortages, the country’s submarine production, political and sex scandals, and its readiness for war. 

These efforts have also stoked concerns about conscription and the potential for young people to be compelled into military service while also sowing doubts regarding the extent of US support for Taiwan.

Beijing views both Tsai and Lai as separatists and has intensified its efforts to pressure Taiwan into accepting Chinese sovereignty claims. 

The CCP’s stance remains steadfast on eventual “reunification” with Taiwan under “one China,” refusing to rule out the use of force to achieve this objective.

During election cycles, China consistently seeks the removal of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which it categorizes as separatist, in favor of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT). 

China’s Cyber Warriors For Representation Only. (File Image)

China presents the KMT as a preference for “peace over war.” Beyond overt statements, Beijing employs subtler tactics to influence Taiwan’s electorate, reflecting a multifaceted strategy to sway electoral outcomes. 

Meanwhile, Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, a member of Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), embarked on an 11-day visit to China on April 1. During this trip, he is expected to have his second meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week. 

Ma, who served as President from 2008 to 2016, made history last year by becoming the first former Taiwanese leader to visit China. Since the Republic of China’s government retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists, no sitting Taiwanese leader has visited China. 

In late 2015, Ma held a key summit with Xi Jinping in Singapore just before the current Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen, took office. Although neither Ma nor China’s government has officially confirmed the upcoming meeting with Xi, Taiwanese media have widely reported on the anticipated encounter.