They banned officials from using TikTok. Taiwan speaks loudly: it is a harmful product

Official reason: threat to internal security. Unofficial: Taiwan is technologically more and more cut off from China.

Ming Ming is a real phenomenon in Taiwan. The cute dog’s account on TikTok is followed by over 5 million users, which is likely every single one of the 4.2 million residents of Taiwan who already have accounts on this social networking site. After Facebook, Tik Tok, owned by ByteDance, has a share of 17.4 per cent. of the entire population, it is the most popular social networking site on the island.

But even Ming Ming didn’t help improve TikTok’s image in the eyes of politicians, lawyers and anti-disinformation experts in Taiwan. Criticism of TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin has been going on for many months. And after the FBI reported a few days ago that it suspected TikTok may be deliberately manipulating its recommendation algorithm, the Taiwanese government stepped up its actions. And he announced: Public servants can no longer seek entertainment and respite from everyday life there.

The end of TikTok for Taiwanese officials.

The Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) announced that Douyin and TikTok were deemed “products harmful to the security of national information.” Back in November, the Taipei government banned Chinese-funded companies from operating online platforms in Taiwan.

The catch is that the owner of Tik Tok ByteDance has not opened a branch or office in Taiwan so far and therefore has not been subject to this regulation. However, the fact that the state-owned China Network Television has shares in it is quite controversial. Yes, it is only 1 percent, but for Taiwanese politicians, it is enough to consider the owner of Tik Tok as affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.

Hence the decision on a new solution: civil servants’ communication devices – and all of them: from smartphones to laptops – have been banned from downloading and using Tik Tok. However, there are no concrete plans for a full blockade, also for ordinary consumers. However, MODA announces that “an assessment should be made of the legality and feasibility of any restriction on the download of Tik Tok by private individuals.

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“We are seeing a massive amount of disinformation from China targeting our public. From constantly undermining Taiwan’s status, to trying to influence elections, as was clearly seen in the recent local elections that took place just a week ago. Such footage, sometimes really massively rendered, appears regularly on Tik Tok

– says SW+ Billion Lee, an analyst from the Cofacts organization, which deals with disinformation in Taiwan.

China vs China in a technological clash.

Tik Tok and Douyin are not the only Chinese social media platforms Taiwan has targeted. A similar ban by officials also appeared in relation to Xiaohongshu, a site sometimes called “China’s answer to Instagram”. It is clear that this decision is part of the increasingly strained relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. China considers Taiwan to be a “rebellious province” and Taiwan itself, ie. The Republic of China is considered the only official China.

The more muted Beijing’s statements toward Taipei are – and they intensified especially after the September visit to Taiwan by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi – the more Taiwan begins to distance itself from Chinese economic and technological influences.

Yesterday, the Ministry of the Interior announced that strict restrictions would be imposed on technology workers working in key sectors who want to travel to China. And not even for those who have to go to work, but also for those who have to travel or just want to drive through China.

If the new law is adopted, employees in the technology sector in companies co-financed by the public (and this is the case, for example, in the case of semiconductors, which are supported by a special state research body in the area of ​​patents) will have to ask for a special permit from the Danish Immigration Service 60 days before the planned departure. In addition, the new rules must apply up to three years after you stop working for such a technology company.

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The reason for such drastic regulations is an analysis published by the Mainland Council, that is, the government’s Council for Mainland China (responsible for contacts with China, Hong Kong and Macau). According to her, several Chinese companies pretending to be companies from Hong Kong or other countries are trying to “poach” Taiwan and pick up talented people. Especially those with access to the technological knowledge of such giants as TCMC, the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world. And since semiconductors are the crown jewels of all of Taiwan, he intends to defend them at all costs.

They banned officials from using TikTok. Taiwan speaks loudly: it is a harmful product

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