TAIPEI: Taiwan pledged on Wednesday (Aug 3) to step up security against possible disruptions by “overseas forces” including cyber attacks as tensions with China rise following the visit to the self-ruled island by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
China demonstrated its outrage over the highest-level US visit in 25 years to the island Beijing claims as its own with a burst of military activity in surrounding waters, summoning the US ambassador in Beijing and halting several agricultural imports from Taiwan.
Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday and left on Wednesday after pledging solidarity with the island and hailing its democracy.
Taiwan Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told a media briefing that authorities have stepped security at key infrastructure, including power plants and airports and increased the cyber security alertness level across government offices.
Lo said Taiwan expects to be the target in the coming days of increased “psychological warfare”, which describes influence campaigns including misinformation to sway public opinion.
“We are seeing psychological warfare that is stronger than ever before, and it will intensify in the coming days,” Lo said.
Taiwan officials have repeatedly warned about what they see as a Chinese campaign to weaken people’s support for the government.
China has never renounced using force to bring Taiwan under its control, which it has said is the most important issue in its relations with the United States. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and vows to defend itself.
Lo urged the press in Taiwan not to act as a “propaganda tool” for Beijing and said they should be careful when citing reports by Chinese state media.
Shortly after Pelosi’s arrival late on Tuesday, Chinese state media reported China’s Su-35 fighter jets were crossing the sensitive Taiwan Strait separating the island from China, before Taiwan’s military called the report false.
Digital minister Audrey Tang said cyber attacks on Taiwan government units on Tuesday surpassed 15,000 gigabits, 23 times higher than the previous daily record.
Several government websites including the presidential office were subject to overseas cyber attacks, some of which authorities said were launched by China and Russia.
Officials said planned Chinese military drills, starting from Thursday noon to midday on Sunday, would affect all 18 international flight routes near the capital Taipei.
They said the impact, however, would be limited, with slight travel time increases as planes fly alternative routes.