Liberal International Invites Liu Shyh-fang to Share How Foreign Disinformation Influences Taiwan
Liberal International (LI) hosted their 206th Executive Committee Meeting in the Canadian Capital, Ottawa, from May 2 through 4. On the morning of May 4 local time, Legislative Yuan member Liu Shyh-fang was invited to participate in the “Democracies in Decline?” panel to discuss how China has tried over the past several years to harm Taiwanese democratic institutions through military force and disinformation.
While introducing Li Shyh-fang, LI Vice President and former Macedonian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Emil Kirjas particularly highlighted how only through the past struggle and hardship of DPP’s founding members, was Taiwan able to transform from a one-party autocracy into a flourishing democracy today. Liu Shyh-fang was also present when LI hosted a meeting in Taiwan in 2004.
On the topic of “Taiwan’s Challenges”, Liu Shyh-fang expressed to the audience—comprising 38 countries and over 130 representatives—that besides unceasing Chinese military threats, the most numerous and thorny problem faced by Taiwan is that of disinformation, which has pervaded Taiwan, and that its impact on Taiwanese media and society is the most serious threat.
According to the results from the”China Index 2022”, a collaboration between Taiwanese and global think tank scholars, the level of Chinese influence Taiwan receives in its media and society is the highest in the world. Not only this, a Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) investigation targeting disinformation found that Taiwan ranked highest in the world over the past five years for receiving disinformation attacks. Looking further, statistics and expert interviews show that the proportion of these attacks coming from China was also the highest.
Liu Shyh-fang further said that some of the unceasing disinformation flooding in was no longer within the bounds of freedom of speech, since in democratic countries disinformation can reduce people’s trust in government and destabilize national security. Moreover during the process of democratization, the challenges posed by disinformation to democratic countries crosses borders, regions, and ethnic groups, and is no less salient than the threat from war.
With this in mind, Liu calls on the global democratic community and political parties to unite as one, and to prevent the malicious dissemination of disinformation—whether through drafting legislation, increasing international alliances, or brainstorming, in order to protect democratic legitimacy and ensure true freedom of speech and thought. While responding to questions from the moderator and attendees, Liu Shyh-fang especially stressed that regardless of the results of the national election, the Taiwanese people understand that protecting democratic institutions is of the utmost importance. Lastly, we must be particularly mindful of the gray area between freedom of speech and propagating disinformation.
Today’s speakers also included Vlado Mirosevic, President of the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, Canadian MP Anita Vandenbeld, and Senior Advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Zivan. In addition to Liu Shyh-fang, Peifen Hsieh, DPP Spokesperson and Director of the International Affairs Department was also in attendance at this LI Executive Committee Meeting.