Taiwanese cabinet passes bills banning foreign-funded election ads

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Taipei, Dec 14 (IANS) Taiwan’s government on Friday approved two draft amendment bills banning political ads funded from abroad, including China, amid suspicions that Beijing interfered in the local elections held in November.

In a Cabinet meeting, Taiwanese Premier Lai Ching-te said the measure was aimed at countering misinformation and foreign influence in Taiwan’s elections, the state-run Central News Agency reported.

The move came amid suspicions that money from China was used to fund the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party’s campaign in November 24 elections.

The bills ban newspapers, magazines, radio and TV broadcasters, digital communications providers and Internet service providers from running election-related commercials funded by sources in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao or other foreign countries.

They also state that all election ads should specify the name of the advertiser and hold media organizations and advertising brokers responsible for verifying the source of the funding.

Given the ruling party’s absolute majority in the legislature and its opposition during the election campaign to Chinese interference in favour of the KMT, the bills were expected to be soon approved by the island’s Parliament.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party suffered a resounding defeat in the elections, managing to win only six of the 22 mayoralties at stake as opposed to the 15 taken by the KMT and independent candidate Ko Wen-je.

–IANS

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