Taiwan to Block Chinese Streaming Sites Ahead of Election

The Taiwanese government is set to block Chinese streaming services in the country ahead of its 2020 presidential election amidst fears of a propaganda push from Beijing, according to reports.

Although mainland streaming services aren’t allowed in the island state, which China still calls its own, Baidu operates there via a third-party known as OTT Entertainment after it was blocked in 2016.

The Taiwanese version of its iQiyi streaming site is said to be one of the most popular on the island, with millions of daily users.

However, Taipei is apparently looking to close this loophole for national security reasons, before the key January 2020 election date.

Chiu Chui-Cheng, deputy minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, told the Nikkei Asian Review that the government will most likely ban iQiyi and also block plans by mainland tech giant Tencent to bring its Tencent Video service to the island later this year.

"We are concerned that streaming media services that have close ties with Beijing could have cultural and political influences in Taiwan ... and even affect Taiwan's elections," Chiu reportedly said.

"If Tencent's streaming video service is trying to enter the Taiwanese market, it's very likely that it's a part of Beijing's propaganda campaign. What if the company inserts some content that Beijing hopes to advertise? What if it implements messages linked to the Communist Party or its army? We should treat this seriously and carefully at a national security level."

Taiwanese officials accused the People’s Republic last year of peddling fake news via social media bots to influence voters ahead of mid-term elections.

Beijing is trying to diminish the prospects of the pro-independence leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and in so doing strengthen the arm of the more China-friendly Kuomintang Party (KMT), the government claimed.

Xi Jinping would like to see current Taiwanese president and former DPP chairwoman, Tsai Ing-Wen, replaced by a KMT alternative in January.

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