On June 23, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei, Taiwan, and braved pouring rain to call for a ban on “red media”—local news outlets that have close ties to the Chinese communist regime and push Beijing’s agenda.
Holger Chen, a rally organizer and internet personality, speaking at the rally, said the communist regime had tried to silence him through financial pressure since he and Huang Kuo-chang, a lawmaker from Taiwan’s New Power Party, announced the rally on June 12.
The Chinese regime, which views the self-ruled island as a renegade province, has stepped up efforts in recent years to infiltrate local media, political parties, and other facets of Taiwan society in an effort to persuade Taiwanese citizens to accept a future in which the island is “unified” with the mainland.
Chen, who is also an owner of a fitness chain in Taiwan, is known for his live-streamed videos on YouTube and other video platforms commenting on fitness and political affairs. His YouTube channel has over 639,000 subscribers.
In a live-streamed video on June 21, Chen described the challenges he faced for being a “patriotic businessman.” He said he lost ad endorsement deals from several companies with business interests in China, while other companies have also threatened to cancel contracts with his companies.
Chen added that record companies refused to lend music copyright for the rally, and his videos were also recently blocked on mainland Chinese platforms. He said the mounting pressure could soon drive him out of the live-broadcasting business.
During the June 23 rally, Chen told the cheering crowd that the turnout was a tremendous encouragement and that he was willing to make sacrifices for a greater cause.
“I want to tell the Chinese Communist Party: Money can buy certain things, but not everyone is willing to put a price tag on their dignity,” he said during the rally.
Chen said he hoped fellow Taiwanese will come to see the extent to which the communist regime has infiltrated the democratic island.
He then called on people in Taiwan to “resolutely oppose red media.”
“In terms of rallies in Taiwan, we have just sketched out a new page in history, and everyone present here is really writing your own history,” Chen said.
In a conference on the same day, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen expressed support for the protest.
“I believe the rally can awaken Taiwan society,” Tsai said.
“With a more solid legal foundation and enhanced legal enforcement, plus international cooperation, we can remove fake and false information from Taiwan society,” she said in a Facebook post on June 23.
Tsai also indicated that she will continue pushing for legislative reform to counter Beijing’s infiltration.
Her party, the Democratic Progressive Party, is planning on introducing legislation that would require entities that have connections with a government outside of Taiwan to disclose their funding sources—similar to “foreign agent registration” laws in the United States.
Huang, during the rally, urged legislators to pass the act.
He condemned the red media for ignoring the important political affairs and “feeding poison” to the Taiwanese people.
“The red media take subsidies from the CCP with one hand, then turn around and create fake information in Taiwan with the other to sabotage Taiwan’s democracy,” Huang said.