Where is the fiercest battlefield in the Taiwan Strait?

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Source: wechat official account: Bu Yi Dao has been authorized to reprint

Writing / Hu Yidao

In response to the so-called “military pressure from the Chinese Mainland”, the DPP authorities announced that they would submit a record defense budget for next year. In terms of amount, it will increase to NT $415.1 billion, an increase of nearly 13% over 2022.

This has become the focus of media attention in the past two days.

However, one direction has been ignored by many people, and its role is very important.

That is, some US media reported that Google and some Western Internet technology companies may “step in” to help Taiwan fight a cognitive war, targeting the so-called “mainland false news”.

Under the situation that military conflict is unlikely to break out at present, cognitive warfare has become the forefront of the “Taiwan Strait game”.

Does the joining of Internet platform technology giants such as Google and Facebook indicate that these large enterprises in the United States are likely to give up their “neutral” status?

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According to the WSJ report, “as Chinese Mainland tries to disrupt the psychology of the people on the island with information warfare and cognitive warfare, the DPP authorities have strengthened the defense line by strengthening fact checking and other methods, and have also been supported by large technology companies such as Google”.

The report also claims that the effectiveness of this approach is gradually being concerned by us and European officials and network researchers.

After us speaker of the house of Representatives Pelosi visited Taiwan Island in disregard of China’s repeated warnings at the beginning of this month, the people’s Liberation Army took strong countermeasures, including test firing missiles, launching military exercises, and sending fighter planes to fly over the so-called “middle line of the Taiwan Strait.”. The huge gap in military strength has left the DPP authorities helpless.

However, the DPP authorities are trying their best to “gild” themselves. For example, the DPP authorities said that long before the landing of Pelosi’s special plane, they were on guard against Beijing’s “more covert attack”, that is, “spreading fear and disturbing the people’s hearts with false news”.

It seems to show that the DPP authorities and relevant departments have achieved good results in the field of cognitive warfare.

In fact, during his visit to Taiwan Island in July this year, former US Defense Secretary esper discussed with Tsai ing Wen’s “red man” — Taiwan’s “administrative Councilor of the Executive Yuan” and “Minister of digital designate” Tang Feng about Taipei’s Countermeasures against false news in the cognitive war. After returning to the United States, esper said that Taiwan’s approach “seems to be very effective. We try to bring back what we have learned.”.

The Taiwan military claimed that “more than 270 cases of false or misleading contents were identified in early August. This is an act of Beijing’s attempt to use false information to attack the morale of the island and damage the credibility of the Democratic Progressive Party government.”.

The DPP said that in the face of the false news attack of the cognitive war, the first line of defense on the island is a group of non-profit fact checking organizations. They use the tools developed by many technology companies to “closely contact with the government organs on the island, and identify and refute the false news before it is widely disseminated”.

The Taiwan media cited an example, that is, after Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan ended on August 3, the information that “the mainland intends to fully evacuate relevant personnel from Taiwan island by August 8” was circulated on the local communication software line user’s whistle blowing platform, because this action implies that the mainland is about to attack Taiwan by force.

The information circulated on the line seems to be the content of the CCTV anchor in Chinese Mainland. The screenshot with the caption “the Chinese central government decided to evacuate the mainland compatriots in Taiwan” is printed at the bottom of the screen. A fact checking organization determined that the information was false by checking CCTV pictures.

In fact, people who publish fake news on social media in order to attract attention often appear. Similar situations often occur on the mainland. However, the authorities of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regard this as a “catch” for politicizing operations and claim that the author of the document is likely to be “a mainland woman”.

Therefore, this false news was labelled by the DPP authorities as “the mainland launched a cognitive war against Taiwan”.

More importantly, follow-up operations.

After confirming that this message was false, the island side informed the offices of line, Google and Facebook (Facebook) in Taiwan. These Western Internet technology companies subsequently took measures to prevent this information from continuing to spread on their respective platforms.

This has also been publicized by the DPP authorities as “a case of successful cooperation between Western Internet platform enterprises and Taiwan”.

In fact, what these Western technology companies have cooperated with Taiwan is to crack down on false news, not to point at the so-called “cognitive war launched by Chinese Mainland”. In the latter part, the relevant departments of the Democratic Progressive Party forced themselves to “add drama.”.

Google has indeed announced recently that it has trained more than 110 officials, legislators and election team members in Taiwan to use tools such as reverse image search to combat false news. Google’s charitable organization also donated US $1 million last year to support Taiwan’s “fact checking center”.

In addition, in the past three years, line has also invested about US $5 million to launch the “digital accountability plan”, including using public chat robots to alert suspicious content and establishing a database containing more than 50000 audit documents.

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Why did the DPP authorities try every means to highlight that they can cope with the “cognitive war initiated by the mainland”?

The main reason is that Tsai ing Wen has regarded this field as her “special political achievements” in recent years.

In particular, Tang Feng, who claims to be “neither gender nor party affiliation”, has been regarded as Cai Yingwen’s right-hand assistant.

On August 26, “German voice” published an exclusive interview with Tang Feng. This Taiwan “digital political commissar” will take up the post of “digital development minister” newly established by the DPP authorities on August 27. In an exclusive interview with the voice of Germany, Tang Feng said that Taiwan’s biggest challenge in the digital age is “information and communication security”.

As for Tang Feng, the mainland media have basically listed his nature, such as “Taiwan independence politician” or “leader of the green camp network army”. The well-known Taiwan Cyber Army 1450 is said to be planned and led by Tang Feng.

However, the green camp media gave Tang Feng a lot of “auras”, such as “high IQ” and “talented it minister”. In the interview with “voice of Germany”, Tang Feng also introduced the situation of “Taiwan’s online army”.

Tang Feng said that Taiwan is at the forefront of the information war and cognitive war launched by the Chinese Mainland. How to deal with fake information from the mainland “has become one of the focuses of the digital development department after its establishment”.

The “Zitong power army” (that is, the “counter Cyber Army” unit set up by Taiwan’s defense department against the PLA’s cyber threat) is indeed necessary because it faces “mixed warfare”. Tang Feng disclosed that the relevant budget was compiled in the Taiwan Defense Department. The “digital development department” has nothing to do with it and has no such establishment.

This obviously means that we have to admit the existence of the “Taiwan Cyber Army” while denying any involvement with ourselves.

In the interview of the “voice of Germany”, there is a trend worth noting, that is, “from Taiwan to the EU”, how can democracy fight the “digital iron curtain”? In fact, this is the entry point where the DPP authorities hope to play a greater role.

Tang Feng believes that most of the information warfare and cognitive warfare are psychological warfare. “The fierce battlefield is in everyone’s mind.” it is the most important thing at present to ensure that they will not “scare themselves.”.

Taiwan’s “Academia Sinica” recently published research results in the journal global security research published by Oxford University. It said that the impact of cognitive warfare is quite complex. Even if the brain does not accept false information, it will still increase the cognitive processing cost of the brain and form a negative impact. On the contrary, young people who lack sufficient knowledge or interest in public affairs may rely more on external information and be vulnerable.

Scholars of the “Academia Sinica” said that the model of the mainland’s cognitive war against Taiwan has shown “diversified” development.

The article claims that “in the past, when the mainland’s economic development was strong, it was good at using positive publicity, including putting forward a number of incentives and measures to promote cross-strait exchanges to attract the Taiwan people”; In recent years, it has gradually turned into “mobilization of negative emotions”. For example, the use of false news to divide the people of Taiwan and the prohibition of the import of agricultural products from Taiwan are “a cognitive war of warning and disruption to Taiwan”.

Scholars of the “Academia Sinica” exaggerate that the Internet has become an important means of cognitive warfare in the mainland. In fact, it is precisely the “Taiwan Cyber Army” that is really engaged in cognitive warfare.

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On the other hand, the DPP authorities have compiled a record defense budget to purchase more offensive weapons.

Under the pretext of “responding to the unprecedented military pressure on the Chinese Mainland after the visit of US House Speaker Pelosi”, the DPP authorities announced that they would submit a defense budget of NT $415.1 billion next year, an increase of nearly 13% over 2022.

But this is not all.

If the “special procurement budget” of NT $108.3 billion, which is intended to be used to purchase new fighters and improve the combat effectiveness of the sea and air, is added together, the total budget for next year will reach NT $523.4 billion, an increase of nearly 15% over 2022.

In addition, Taiwan’s so-called “Executive Yuan” also listed a “special fund budget” of NT $62.9 billion, but did not specify the specific purpose of this special fund.

It can be seen that the DPP authorities have greatly increased defense funds.

What is the main purpose of these increased funds?

In the words of the DPP authorities, “the main emphasis is on improving asymmetric combat capability, including the acquisition of missiles capable of striking deep in the Chinese Mainland”.

Look, this is not the development of offensive weapons. What is it? The DPP authorities are using “asymmetric combat power” to cover up “offensive”.

An expert on the Taiwan issue said that Taiwan’s armed forces develop offensive military forces mainly through two channels: one is to directly purchase from the United States, and the other is not convenient to purchase. They develop in the so-called “independent research and development” mode, but in fact they also rely on the private technical assistance of the United States and other countries.

In terms of developing long-range strike missiles, Taiwan’s Defense Department announced in 2021 that the focus of Taiwan’s future army building is “long-range strike” and that it will continue to develop air launched missiles that can greatly increase their range.

According to publicly available information, the Xiongfeng 2E cruise missile developed and mass produced by Taiwan’s “Chinese Academy of Sciences” is a surface to surface cruise missile. In 2011, the range was openly stated to be 600 km, and the range was increased with the target of 3000 km, which was intended to pose a threat to the targets in the southeast of Chinese Mainland.

In terms of arms procurement, according to Reuters, an informed source said that the Biden administration would announce a new batch of arms sales to Taiwan as soon as September.

The focus of this arms sale is to “maintain Taiwan’s current military system and repeatedly place existing orders,” rather than providing military capabilities that are more likely to aggravate cross-strait tensions. “It is more likely to sell guns and ammunition to Taiwan, not just weapons,” the source said. “If there is a ban on Taiwan, Taiwan will need more military supplies and ammunition.”

Earlier, Campbell, the White House’s Indian Pacific Affairs coordinator, said that US arms sales to Taiwan would be aimed at meeting the ever-changing security environment faced by Taiwan. Since 2017, the US government has approved arms sales to Taiwan with a total value of more than $18 billion, most of which were completed during the administration of former president trump.

A researcher at the Taiwan Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said that gradually relaxing the transfer of offensive weapons has become a new feature of the US arms sales policy to Taiwan. Trump has sold 11 arms to Taiwan during his term of office, among which those that exceed the limitation of the “Taiwan Relations Act” on the United States providing defensive weapons to Taiwan include:

66 f-16v fighters valued at $8 billion, 135 agm-84h / K slam-er air to ground missiles valued at $1 billion (air launched land attack missiles with extended range and out of sight range, with a range of 250-300 kilometers), the “Haima Si” multi barrel rocket system with a range of more than 250 kilometers, and 100 sets of “shore based harpoon missile systems” valued at $2.37 billion.

After taking office in May 2016, Cai Yingwen proposed “defense independence and industrial development”, taking the defense industry as one of the six core strategic industries. For the “red zone” part of the equipment and technology required for manufacturing Submarines (including sonar systems and combat systems, which cannot be self-made and must be purchased).

In April 2018, the US State Department issued a marketing license for the sale of submarine manufacturing technology to Taiwan, allowing us military industrial enterprises to provide relevant sensitive technologies to Taiwan. During the trump era, the Taiwan Air Force sought to purchase agm-158 joint defense zone outer space to ground missiles from the United States, which were equipped on F-16 fighter planes. It was claimed that “it can accurately strike high-value military targets such as the command, control, and air defense systems of the mainland”, and it was obviously offensive.

After this large-scale military exercise of the PLA’s “island blockade”, the Taiwan military is reassessing its weapons procurement needs and hopes to acquire more large-scale weapons, including warships and fighters, “to counter the possible blockade war of the PLA”.

In the past, the United States believed that the Taiwan military should give priority to low-cost, small-sized and highly mobile weapons, such as the “stinger” air defense missile, which is crucial to resist the PLA’s actions. However, the Taiwan side now indicated that the strategy may need to be adjusted.

Since the PLA now often sends large ships to approach or cross the so-called “central line of the Strait”, it also sends ships to hover on the East and west sides of the Bashi strait between Taiwan and the Philippines, and maintains a regular military presence between Taiwan and Japan and Naguo island. Therefore, a Taiwan official said, “in order to counterattack these ships of more than 500 tons, medium and large warships are indeed necessary.”

Since this year, the Biden administration has rejected the requirements of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities for large and expensive weapons systems, and believes that these weapons are inefficient in preventing the PLA from attacking Taiwan.

According to German Marshall foundation expert Ge Laiyi, the first task of the US government seems to be to ensure the delivery to Taiwan of the previously large backlog of arms sales requests.

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