Taiwan TV channel apologises after mistakenly reporting Chinese attack in Taipei: ‘Don’t panic!’

·3-min read
Screengrab of the Chinese Television System channel that ran news tickers that said that the Chinese had attacked several places in Taipei. The TV station later apologised for the mistake and asked citizens not to panic  (Chinese Television System)
Screengrab of the Chinese Television System channel that ran news tickers that said that the Chinese had attacked several places in Taipei. The TV station later apologised for the mistake and asked citizens not to panic (Chinese Television System)

A Taiwan government-backed TV channel apologised to its audience on Wednesday after it mistakenly reported a Chinese attack in Taipei.

During a live broadcast on Wednesday morning on the Chinese Television System, the television ran news tickers at about 7am at the bottom of the screen about military ships and critical infrastructure near Taipei being hit by Chinese missiles.

Local reports said that the news tickers ran messages like “a war could break out,” and that a major train station in Taipei was being set on fire by “Chinese agents.”

The graphics on the Chinese Television System also falsely reported that Taiwan’s president had declared a state of emergency.

It read: “New Taipei City has been hit by a Chinese Communist guided missile. Ships in Taipei Port have exploded, damaging facilities. Banqiao Station is reported to have been set on fire by explosives placed by special forces.”

However, the TV station soon apologised for its mistake. An anchor with the channel said on air at about 10 in the morning: “Citizens, please don’t be overly panicked. We hereby clarify the information and apologise.”

The anchor clarified that the tickers were meant for a drill with the fire department in New Taipei City on Tuesday but were mistakenly aired on Wednesday. She blamed a technical error for the mistake.

In Taipei, local news reported that there were no signs of people panicking after the accidental airing of the news about China’s attack.

Taiwan’s Ministry of national defence had asked municipal governments to include the Chinese invasion scenario in a video as part of an annual drill, according to Huang De-ching, commissioner of the New Taipei City Fire Department.

He told Bloomberg by phone: “This is for the drill of national defence mobilisation and disaster prevention. The Defense Department asked us to include the scenario of a China attack. So we have that scripted at the start of the video.”

China’s People’s Liberation Army, last year, sent almost 1,000 sorties into Taiwan’s air-defence identification zone. China has also stepped up its military activities nearby in the past two years to press the island into accepting Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

Last week, Taiwan’s military issued a civil defence handbook that carries information for citizens on how to respond in case a war breaks out. The 28-page handbook also features QR codes that citizens of Taiwan can scan to find bomb shelter locations. It also offers safety instructions for air raids, fires, building collapses and major power outages.

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