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Remarks at GCTF Workshop: Defending Democracy through Media Literacy
Date: 2018/10/18    Data Source: Public Diplomacy Coordination Council
Oct. 18, 2018
Good morning! I want to welcome everyone to Taiwan, as well as acknowledge several special guests:

1. Deputy Assistant Secretary Busby
2. Professor Farley
3. My good friend AIT Director Christensen
As well as the dignitaries from Taiwan:
1. Speaker Su, Chairman of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
2. Minister Tang, popularly known as Taiwan's Digital Minister
3. Deputy Minister Hsu
4. and President Liao of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

Thank you all for coming to this important event.
Ever since I was in the National Security Council in 2016 I've had numerous discussions about the Global Cooperation Training Framework. I've participated in meetings that have talked about how good the GCTF is, and how many people it has benefitted. I have become an ardent supporter of this program. And I was pleased to significantly increase its budget, so that we can support more training sessions on issues of common interest.

The funny thing is: throughout this process - all these meetings, discussions, and speeches praising the GCTF - I've actually never had the opportunity to participate in an actual GCTF event. And so this is my very first time to be at a GCTF event to talk about this concrete example of Taiwan's longstanding cooperation with the United States. I could not be more pleased at this opportunity. And I want to thank the AIT, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, as well as my hardworking colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for putting this event together.

We're gathered today to talk about a topic that is at the center of today's political discourse. It's an issue that is critical if our societies are to separate fact from fiction, and information from disinformation. Media literacy is the answer to a major challenge posed to all democracies - that is the ever more sophisticated efforts by non-democratic actors to disrupt and degrade our democratic processes. But it is also an opportunity. As Thomas Jefferson once said, a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy. And similarly, if through media literacy, we are able to build a society that is more educated and better informed, we end up with a democracy that is stronger and more resilient.

In many senses, all of you are in the right place to talk about the issue of media literacy. Taiwan is on the frontlines when it comes to coordinated attacks of disinformation, designed to sow discord in society and disrupt our way of life. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is something we deal with on a daily basis. The topics of disinformation range from potential switches in diplomatic relations to issues with very real national security implications. For every falsehood we discredit, more come to take their place. This makes my job not only challenging. And I know this is an issue also prevalent across many government agencies in Taiwan and around the world.

When I was at the Legislature yesterday, one line of reasoning I heard was whether our efforts to fight disinformation were concealed attempts to discredit tough questions for the government. Well, I want to make clear that there is a clear difference between the two. Criticism of the government can take many shapes and forms. And it is our job - as an administration rooted in our fight for democracy - to ensure that this freedom is not only respected, but also enshrined as part of our society. But when this criticism is based on fake information and falsehoods, when it is based on unsourced and anonymous material, and when it comes coordinated from foreign actors that hold a vested interest in degrading our political system, that is when it becomes our responsibility to counter it.

Let me give you an example of this. In late May, there were widespread media reports that the foreign minister of one of our diplomatic allies was in Beijing about to establish diplomatic ties. We were concerned and immediately sent our ambassador to that country to verify. This ambassador sent very convincing evidence a few hours later: a picture of himself and the foreign minister is their capital. And as it turned out, this rumor originated from a social media account based in China's Hebei Province.

This example points to the fact that with the advent of new technology, disinformation and falsehoods are spreading faster than ever - in many cases faster than we can clarify. While the Executive Yuan has set up a real-time news clarification webpage, collecting 820 reports this year - this undoubtedly represents just the tip of the iceberg. And it's not just government working to fact check information, it's also civil society. Organizations like the Taiwan FactCheck Center are also working to verify news and information collected online and via social media. But in the long-term, the economics of disinformation dictate a need for a better approach. While China may pay netizens 50 cents to post fake information, it costs us much more than that to rebut it. And so, this approach must be centered not on government, but the very people that produce and consume information: journalists, academia, civil society, and citizens.

Taiwan is often termed as a beacon of democracy for the region. This was acknowledged by Vice President Pence recently when he referred to Taiwan's embrace of democracy. And so, given the importance of defending democracy, our most fundamental value, Taiwan must take the lead on issues like media literacy. On this issue, we seek to share information, contribute our strengths, and work more closely with our like-minded partners and countries from around the region.

This workshop is a step in the right direction. And it will be one step in the many to come. Thank you all for being here and I hope that you have a productive program. Thank you.



早安!歡迎各位來到臺灣,首先容我先介紹幾位特別來賓:美國國務院副助理國務卿科特巴斯比(Scott Busby)、美國「媒體素養計畫」主持人法莉女士(Maggie Farley)、美國在台協會臺北辦事處處長酈英傑(Brent W. Christensen),以及臺灣的貴賓:臺灣民主基金會董事蘇嘉全、行政院數位政務委員唐鳳、外交部政務次長徐斯儉、臺灣民主基金會執行長廖福特。感謝大家出席這場非常重要的活動。



今天我們齊聚一堂探討的是當前政治議題的焦點----我們的社會要如何分別事實與虛構、資訊與假消息。當前所有的民主國家都面臨此項挑戰----特別是非民主行為者透過運作成熟的假消息,擾亂及打擊民主發展;面對此一挑戰,媒體識讀即是解答!挑戰同時也是機會,美國前總統傑佛遜(Thomas Jefferson)曾說,在一個民主國家沒有什麼比選民知的權利更重要。同樣的,透過媒體識讀,我們能建立一個資訊更為流通的社會,最終能使民主更加穩固堅韌。



讓我舉個例子。 今年5月下旬,大批媒體報導說,我們某一個友邦的外交部長正在北京與中國密謀建交。我們十分關注這則消息,並立即請我們駐當地大使向該國政府查證。幾個小時後,這位大使提出令人信服的證據:一張大使本人與謠傳中訪問北京的外交部長在該國首都的合照。後來事實證明,這個假消息來自中國河北省的某個社群軟體帳戶。

這個例子說明,隨著新技術的出現,假訊息和虛假資訊(falsehood)的傳播速度遠較過去任何時候迅速,甚至在許多情況下比我們澄清的動作更快。行政院雖已設立即時新聞澄清網頁(real-time news clarification webpage ),並在今年即已蒐集820份報告,但這些數字不過是冰山一角。當前政府及民間團體都致力於查驗資訊的真偽,部分民間組織如「台灣事實查核中心」(Taiwan FactCheck Center)也正致力於查證從網路及社交媒體接收的新聞和資訊。長期而言,假訊息帶來的破壞力亟需一個更好的因應之道。中國也許只要支付其網民5毛來散播假訊息,但要駁斥這些資訊,我們卻要耗費更多成本。因此,相關因應作為不能僅以政府為中心,而是要以能夠宣傳及接收資訊的個人為中心,包括記者、學界,民間社會和每一位公民。


  • 相關圖片
    相關圖片 Related Picture(s)
    1. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (left), AIT Director Brent Christensen(centre) and US Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Busby(right) met in the opening ceremony.

      Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (left), AIT Director Brent Christensen(centre) and US Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Busby(right) met in the opening ceremony.

    2. Minister Wu addressed attendees at the opening ceremony.

      Minister Wu addressed attendees at the opening ceremony.

    3. Group photo of Guests of Honor and Speakers

      Group photo of Guests of Honor and Speakers