Taiwan’s presidential election frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen saw her Facebook page overwhelmed by a sudden surge of messages from mainland netizens, demanding the island’s return to China.
But Tsai, who is running under the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said she welcomes all messages left on her social media account, including those from the mainland, Ming Pao Daily reported on Thursday.
Facebook, which is blocked in China, appeared to have become suddenly accessible to mainland netizens since Tuesday night, and Tsai saw a flood of as many as 109,000 messages on her account as of 9 a.m. Thursday.
The DPP chairperson said she would rather look at the incident positively.
“We hope Chinese internet users have the opportunity to browse the Facebook accounts of different people, and I welcome them to visit my Facebook page,” Tsai said.
Most of the mainland netizens who left messages on her Facebook page criticized and insulted the DPP as well as Taiwan and Tsai.
The posts included China’s national flag, messages like “Taiwan is always part of China”, and personal attacks on Tsai.
Taiwan netizens also posted messages on Tsai’s page, welcoming mainland netizens to “come and experience democracy and freedom of speech”.
Tsai posted a photo that reads “Freedom” in English, and said she hoped the whole new experience would allow her “new friends” to take a closer look at a democratic, free and diversified Taiwan.
“Welcome to the world of Facebook,” she said.
DPP spokesperson Juan Chao-hsiung said the party respects freedom of speech and therefore would not delete any message or take legal action unless there were clear violations of the law.
Hu Yuan-hui, an associate professor at the Department of Communication of the National Chung Cheng University, said he believed the Chinese Communist Party was behind the sudden surge of messages on Tsai’s Facebook account.
Calling the flood of mainland messages “unwise”, Hu said it showed how irrational the regime in Beijing is and its attempt to influence Taiwan’s Jan. 16 elections can only be counter-productive.
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