Taiwan citing national security in Chinese streaming site block: Report

Baidu and Tencent's services will reportedly be blocked in the countdown to the 2020 Taiwan election.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The streaming services of Chinese giants Baidu and Tencent are expected to be blocked in Taiwan as the nation prepares for a presidential election in 2020, with the Taiwanese government expressing concerns the sites will spread propaganda and pose a threat to its national security.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Deputy Minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council Chiu Chui-Cheng said Baidu's iQiyi platform will likely be banned and that Taiwan will block Tencent's plan to launch its streaming service 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 is quoted as telling the publication. "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."

The Nikkei Asian Review also reported that Chiu said Beijing had stepped up its "cultural infiltration" into Taiwan after Chinese President Xi Jinping used a speech in January to push for an accelerated reunification process.

Unlike China, Taiwan's internet is relatively unrestricted.

China has long operated what has become known as the Great Firewall.

At the beginning of 2016, China upgraded its Great Firewall and began cracking down on the use of VPNs with the aim of fostering the "healthy development" of the internet in China.

Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked in the country. While there has been a pilot free-trade zone in Shanghai in the past that allowed some access to such content, the zone was still heavily restricted. Services including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail are also been banned under the laws.

The Chinese government has also shut live-streaming services and websites, tightened regulations governing internet access, and issued repeated warnings to companies about the need to clean up content through various agencies.

Google withdrew from China in 2010 in opposition to the country's censorship rules after revealing it had been hacked by the Chinese government. The company, however, has since moved on from its policy of opposing censorship, having made plans for a censored version of its search engine -- code-named Dragonfly -- for China.

Following the project being made public, 1,000 Google employees signed a letter in August that called for the search company to abandon its efforts to create the censored Chinese search engine. Another open letter protesting against Dragonfly was sent to Google in November, signed by almost 300 of its employees.

"Providing the Chinese government with ready access to user data, as required by Chinese law, would make Google complicit in oppression and human rights abuses," the November letter created by Google Employees Against Dragonfly states.


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