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Session B5
China‘s Influence on Taiwan's Media and Implication on Taiwanese Politics
許建榮 Chien-Jung Hsu
Department of Taiwan and Regional Studies, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan

After the Chinese Nationalist Government took over Taiwan in 1945, it used the mass media as a tool to “Sinicize” Taiwanese. This was carried out alongside its propaganda war against the Communists and pro-democracy opponents. No media could report any news without the approval of the authoritarian regime. But Taiwanese identity rose to challenge hegemonic Chinese identity after Taiwan became a democracy. The Internet in Taiwan is an open network environment that allows the accumulation of information and enables individuals or societies to become information providers. Therefore, many Taiwanese people use the Internet to promote Taiwanese identity and resist media that advocate Chinese identity. From the 1990s, Internet users who advocate Taiwanese identity maintain their voice on the cyberspace against pro-Chinese identity media. Presently, the Internet/social media have expanded its influence on Taiwan's politics while contributed to the rise of Taiwanese identity. In the meantime, media that promote Taiwanese identity media also rose to challenge pro-Chinese identity media and gradually occupied significant market share. 

However, despite Taiwan being a free democracy, closer economic ties across the strait allow China to exert pressure on Taiwanese media industry. China's political and economic pressures, media owner's cozy relationships with Chinese politicians, and close business interactions with China, all have placed an undue shadow on the political orientation of much of Taiwan's media, which created a negative influence on press freedom and the political self-determination of Taiwanese media owners. These conditions justifiably worry Taiwan's people regarding freedom of the press and freedom of speech. 

There are four ways in which China wields influence on Taiwanese media. First, China uses its economic power to co-opt some Taiwanese media. By facilitating pro-Beijing tycoons' acquisition of media outlets on the island, China can shape editorial content, coverage and viewpoints of China. Second, China exerts pressures on Taiwanese media owners who have invested, or intend to invest, in China, thereby prompting self-censorship on any China-related issue. Third, Chinese government agencies publish various types of advertorials disguised as news coverage in Taiwan's media. This placement tactic facilitates political influence by providing a source of advertising revenue, often thereby making Taiwan's media into de facto propaganda agents of the Chinese government. Fourth, the Chinese government relies on “news content farms (nei rong nong chang),” outlets in mainland China that generate and distribute fake news that attack political parties or politicians sympathetic to Taiwanese identity. In the absence of systematic filtering, these fake news and information could easily shape people's political views and influence Taiwan's politics.