Chinese foreign policy


published: 23.01.2024

In a savvy disinformation offensive, China takes aim at Taiwan election

This article by MERICS former Senior Fellow Angela Köckritz is part of MERICS' series on Taiwan’s 2024 presidential election and discusses China's disinformation offensive targeted at Taiwan.

  • When Taiwanese face important elections, China’s efforts to influence voters become especially fierce.
  • Ahead of the January 13, 2024, election, China wants to thwart the campaign of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who stands for an autonomous Taiwan.
  • China uses a sophisticated, multi-pronged approach to influence public opinion, far beyond fake news, with AI posing an ever-growing threat. Research shows China is involved in massive influence operations.
  • The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) makes use of non-party or non-government organizations such as religious groups, businesspeople, influencers, pop stars or students to advance its agenda.
  • Taiwan is just the tip of the iceberg – examples of China attempting to influence other jurisdictions will likely evolve in the future. With its growing global ambitions, Beijing feels the need to create an information environment that is more favorable to its agenda.
  • But even sophisticated disinformation campaigns can backfire. In the past, military threats have driven Taiwanese voters to support candidates Beijing did not want to see elected at the time.