Asia

Pro-China posts spam Taiwan President-elect Tsai's Facebook

  • 21 January 2016
  • From the section Asia
Tsai Ing-wen, waving after her victory in the presidential election in Taiwan Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tsai Ing-wen has not made clear whether she supports Taiwanese independence from China

The Facebook page of Taiwan's new president-elect Tsai Ing-wen has been flooded with hostile posts, seemingly from mainland China.

Tens of thousands of posts demanded that the island be reunified with the mainland, under Beijing's control.

Meanwhile, China conducted military drills on its coast opposite Taiwan.

Ms Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a landslide victory in presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The DPP is broadly supportive of independence from China.

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province that must one day be brought back under mainland control.

It is concerned that Taiwan may declare formal independence although Ms Tsai has not declared herself in favour of such a move.

'Love the motherland'

Ms Tsai brushed off the Facebook campaign on Thursday, saying: "The greatness of this country lies in how every single person can exercise their rights."

Her party, too, said they "respected" those who exercised freedom of speech.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Several commenters have posted a set of Chinese communist slogans, urging "love for the motherland", in quick succession

Most of the posters wrote in the simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland, as opposed to the traditional characters used in Taiwan.

Many repeatedly spammed Ms Tsai's Facebook page with a series of Chinese Communist Party slogans known as the "eight honours and eight shames", which among other things encourages "love for the motherland".

Access to Facebook and most major Western social media sites are officially blocked in mainland China - although technologically savvy users often circumvent the restrictions.

The irony was not lost on Taiwanese Facebook posters, who sarcastically congratulated the mainland critics on bypassing the firewall.

Observers say the comments appear to be part of a campaign organised from China although it is not clear by whom.

Chinese officials have been known to pay online commentators to post opinions supportive of government policies. Some experts have estimated that China employs about 250,000 "paid commenters".

'Live-fire'

China said it had carried out live-fire landing drills at its base in Xiamen, near the Taiwan-controlled island of Kinmen, "in recent days".

The drills involved the use of long-range rockets and amphibious tanks, Chinese state TV said, without giving more details.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tsai Ing-wen will replace Taiwan's more pro-China current president, Ma Ying-jeou

Steve Lin, an official from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, which manages the island's affairs with China, described the drills as "very bad news".

"We'll raise our military deployment, and at the same time we'll deal with it via reasonable dialogue with the Chinese side," he said in quotes carried by Reuters news agency.

Ms Tsai says she wants peaceful relations with China. The island has ruled itself since Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled there in 1949 after being defeated by Communist forces in the civil war.

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