Beijing claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory despite Taiwan having its own military, democratically-elected government, and currency.
Researchers and Taiwanese authorities have previously highlighted indirect attempts at swaying Taiwan voters to elect pro-Beijing political candidates into office—including by spreading disinformation on Facebook—efforts that align with Beijings goals of convincing Taiwanese people to accept unification with the mainland. But the endeavors were difficult to trace directly to the regime.
The documents are the first of its kind to confirm the Chinese regimes direct hand in creating and spreading such propaganda on Facebook, fanning pro-unification sentiments.
The documents from the Beijing city government, dated in early June and presented as reports to higher-ups to show off their “accomplishments,” provide evidence that the regime is using various proxy Facebook pages to promote Beijings claim of sovereignty and the idea of a military invasion of Taiwan.
From May 25 to June 8, the platforms posted at least 74 posts across four pages, designed to “deflate the insolent air of the pro-independence Taiwan groups and draw a contrast to the outbreak handling between China, U.S., and Taiwan, thereby to demonstrate the advantages of our system,” according to the document. The term “pro-independence” has been a pro-forma accusation for Beijing to frame individuals and acts that demonstrate pride or solidarity for Taiwan identity—such as waving Taiwanese flags.
The pages have obscure names with a modest following that vary from as low as a few hundred to over 8,000 followers. But the effort proved rewarding: five of the best-performing videos from one page received more than 30,000 likes, shares, comments, and clicks during the two-week period, according to the document.
The top video, demonstrating a hypothetical military attack on Taiwan, drew more than 137,000 user reactions over a span of 13 days and was watched 1.02 million times in that period. The video claims Chinese soldiers are invincible and that Taiwan “must unify” with the mainland. The videos title read, “If war breaks out tomorrow, here is the answer from Chinas Peoples Liberation Army (PLA).”
The video currently has about 800 comments and close to 2,000 likes. It cost about $400 to boost the post, according to the document.
Separately, Hu Guangqu, an editor and reporter for the Taiwan-focused, state-affiliated news site Huaxia Jingwei through the end of 2019, presented a summary of the “Facebook special promotion work” in a June 7 document, touting that the videos have made a “significant impact,” and have “drawn widespread attention from overseas netizens and ignited spirited discussions.”
Hu conceded, however, that “most of them [overseas netizens] think the PLA doesnt dare to use military force” against Taiwan. Furthermore, he found that within the Facebook comments, many Taiwanese said that the United States would also come to Taiwans aid in the event of a military invasion, he wrote in the document. This represents the majority of Taiwan youths “who have an extremely low sense of identification with the motherland,” he concluded, describing such youths as “radical” forces.
“Only a small number of Taiwan internet users have an introspective awareness,” Hu said.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment about the above-mentioned Facebook pages.
Huaxia Jingwei, established in Beijing, has played an active role in projecting regime-endorsed narratives about Taiwan.
The website describes itself as having received “an avid interest and strong support” from the Taiwan Affairs Office and the State Council Information Office, both working organs of Chinas central government.
The news site also boasted being listed as a key government project in 2006 as a part of the Chinese regimes five-year plan. Wang Daohan, former president of the state-run, pro-unification Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, penned the website name himself.
Zhu Ming, a China-affairs commentator based in New York, called the site Beijings “pro-unification propaganda front” operating through multiple proxies.
He noted that the web page uses traditional Chinese rather than the simplified script, the standardized characters in the mainland, suggesting their target audience are non-mainland readers. Residents of Taiwan and Hong Kong predominantly use traditional characters.
While the Chinese regime, through its ever-tightening internet censorship, has long blocked mainland users from accessing Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, it has also increasingly taken to these platforms to push its views to international audiences.
All major Chinese state-run media outlets have opened accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Some, such as China News Service and China Central Television (CCTV), have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to <a href="https://www.theepochtimes.com/china-weaponizes-social-media-to-sway-perceptions-on-<a href=https://www.theepochtimes.com/chinese-regime-running-facebook-to-advance-military-agenda-in-taiwan-leaked-documents_3419076.html>Read More – Source</a></p>_
Dozens of Palestinians injured in police clashes as Jewish extremists chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ march in Jerusalem
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Spain drafts new foreign policy that incorporates gender perspective
The Spanish government has updated its guidelines for international relations. A draft of the 2021-2024 Foreign Action Strategy, which the Cabinet is planning to send to parliament on Tuesday, discusses the “opportunity” to improve relations with the United States now that Joe Biden is the new US president. It also emphasizes the need for “a feminist foreign policy” and “humanitarian diplomacy.”
This document will replace the previous foreign policy strategy drafted in 2015. Although it only represents the government’s opinion, other sources were consulted – including regional, provincial and local authorities, and national agencies such as the Council of State, the government’s top advisory body.
The 100-page text draws a somber picture of a fractured global scenario where the concept of multilateralism is in crisis. “We live in an increasingly volatile and fragmented world that tends to generate two opposing trends: an outward force of disunity marked by the rise of populisms and exclusionary nationalisms, and an inward force with inclusive answers to global challenges,” reads the document.
In this context, Spain hopes to gain added relevance in the international arena with a policy based on “reformed and reinforced multilateralism.” The strategy, drafted in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, holds that the health crisis has accelerated processes that were already underway, but that it is still too soon to know whether we are immersed in “an era of change or in a change of era.”
The following are some of the main points:
United States. The Biden administration “opens up a more optimistic scenario” and “an opportunity that has to be taken.” Spain wants “a broader agenda for bilateral relations in the economic and trade spheres,” and will seek to get “unfair unilateral trade measures lifted,” alluding to tariffs on olive oil and wine. The existing cooperation on defense issues should be maintained, and the Cervantes Institute will open a new branch in Los Angeles, adding to the ones in New York, Chicago and New Mexico.
Europe. Spain will encourage “a more federal European Union” with greater strategic autonomy, competence over more policy areas, and more matters that may be approved through qualified majorities rather than unanimous votes. Spain will play an active role in the Conference on the Future of Europe, which will address necessary reforms for the EU, and encourage the integration process when it holds the six-month rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2023. The document calls for the consolidation of permanent tools of joint debt issue and for Europe to create its own resources, as well as for a harmonized tax system that ends competition within the EU. The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU is described as “a great opportunity for Spain to take on greater leadership towards a more global Europe.”
Feminism. Spain will approve a Feminist Foreign Policy Strategy to incorporate gender issues “in all areas of foreign action” and it will “lead by example” by encouraging a greater presence of women in Spain’s external activities. Women currently represent 28% of diplomats and 20% of mission heads. Spain will also lead initiatives to promote diversity, “particularly LGTBI rights and the rights of all communities that are underprivileged or discriminated against.”
Latin America. Spain will encourage relations between the EU and Latin America and support the completion of an agreement with the Mercosur trade bloc. The king and queen will visit Chile to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first documented circumnavigation of the globe. Several Central American countries, as well as Peru and Mexico, are also celebrating the bicentennial of their independence. The latter country is also observing the controversial 500th anniversary of Hernán Cortés’ conquest, and Spain will work towards “a constructive dialogue about the celebration of historical milestones.” In Venezuela, “the priority will be restoring the democratic framework and providing support for overcoming the political and humanitarian crisis.” As for Cuba, the country is “updating its political and economic model” and Spain must stimulate this process “through critical yet constructive support.”
Immigration. Spain supports a European System of Immigration and Asylum guided by the principles of solidarity and equally shared responsibility. It wants to see “integral management of borders,” a zero-tolerance policy against smuggling rings, and the creation of “safe, regular and orderly migration channels.”
Health. Spain will support the European Commission’s efforts to create the foundations for “a European health union,” as well as the reform and reinforcement of multilateral global institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
United Nations. Spain will apply to sit on the UN Human Rights Council for the 2025-2027 period. The technological platform for the UN system in Quart de Poblet (Valencia) will be consolidated and expanded.
China. Spain will seek “more balanced relations” with China, especially on economic issues, avoiding “dynamics of confrontation.” It will encourage a strategic relationship through the EU, without ignoring “clear elements of rivalry in terms of values and interests” especially on human rights issues and unfair competition.
Development aid. The document maintains a commitment to earmark 0.5% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP) to development aid. A new law on international cooperation for sustainable development will be passed, and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency will undergo reform.
Climate. Spain wants to lead agreements on climate change with a “climate diplomacy.” It will encourage an international coalition on green hydrogen (hydrogen production from water) and will commit to the protection of biodiversity.
Western Sahara. Spain’s priority with regard to its former colony is to “contribute to the UN’s efforts to reach a political solution to the conflicts in the region in accordance with international parameters.”
Gibraltar. Gibraltar is only mentioned in reference to the recent agreement of December 31 laying out the groundwork to incorporate the British Overseas Territory into the Schengen space. Spain will “encourage the negotiation process for an agreement between the EU and the UK with regard to Gibraltar.”
Ukraine nursing home fire: Four arrested after Kharkiv blaze leaves 15 dead
Ukrainian authorities have arrested four people in connection with a deadly fire at a retirement home in Kharkiv.
15 people were killed after a blaze ripped through the nursing home on Thursday afternoon in the eastern Ukrainian city, according to emergency services.
Nine others were rescued, five of whom have been taken to hospital for treatment.
Pictures from the scene showed blackened rooms and barred windows on the upper floor of the two-storey building, which had been converted into a home for the elderly. 50 firefighters attended the incident to extinguish the flames.
In a statement on Facebook, the country’s attorney general, Iryna Venediktova, said four people have been arrested.
The suspects include those who owned and rented the building, as well as the manager of the retirement home. Authorities say they are investigating if the fire was started by arson or the short circuit of an electrical appliance.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the centre in Kharkiv and has announced a national day of mourning for Saturday.
In an earlier tweet, the President called on local authorities to do “everything possible” to help victims and relatives who had lost loved ones.
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