Taiwan news station erroneously reports Chinese invasion, triggering panic and state investigation

A Taiwanese news station accidentally reported that China had invaded the island nation yesterday, triggering a government investigation into the mistake.

On the Wednesday morning news broadcast at 7 a.m. local time, Taiwanese public broadcaster Chinese Television System (CTS) mistakenly released a news crawl at the bottom of one of their segments that read, “the Chinese communists have stepped up their preparations for war,” and that President Tsai Ing-wen “has issued an emergency order.”

“New Taipei City has been hit by missiles from the communist military; Taipei port has exploded, facilities and ships have been damaged,” a news ticker read, according to CNN. “It is suspected that enemy agents have arsonized and planted explosives at Banqiao train station.”

One ticker reported war was on the “brink of erupting,” and another read, “Special agent suspected of setting fire to Banqiao Station and planting explosives,” reported Taiwan News.

The network also reported false information about a magnitude 7 earthquake taking place in New Taipei City.

A user on a popular online forum called PTT posted screenshots of the CTS news broadcast after.

CTS issued an official apology later that day, explaining how the messages were part of the New Taipei City Government’s disaster prevention drills and were accidentally televised during that morning’s news.

According to the statement, an employee had failed to assign the appropriate links in the system, but the news director “corrected” the error at “7 minutes and 49 seconds into the broadcast.”

The Taiwanese government also conducted their own investigation due to the severity of the incident, which caused unnecessary panic among the public.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture released an apology on Wednesday, assuring that the incident would be “thoroughly reviewed” and “not be repeated.”

Following the incident, seven CTS staff members were reportedly held accountable over the erroneous news crawl, including two program directors and five editors and producers.

CTS acting general manager Chen Ya-ling (陳雅琳) offered her resignation yesterday during a video conference board meeting. Her resignation was rejected by many board members, and Chen publicly apologized on the network’s evening news, stating that she would “accept any reprimand.”

The false alarm comes in light of Taiwan’s ongoing concerns over a potential attack from China, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Tensions have grown over the past few months between the two countries, who have long been involved in a heated dispute about China’s sovereignty over the island.

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