The Taiwanese government announced on Thursday that it will block — or, more precisely, finish the job of blocking — video streaming services from Chinese mega-corporations Tencent and Baidu.
The lockouts will go into effect on September 3.
The Verge explained that mainland Chinese streaming services have been largely illegal in Taiwan for some time, but Tencent and Baidu have services called WeTV and iQiyi, respectively, that were allowed to operate under a “legal loophole” because they have partnerships with Taiwanese firms. Thursday’s directive from the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs closed that loophole.
“The move shows how Chinese tech companies are facing increasing difficulty in pushing into other markets as geopolitical tensions continue to rise. President Donald Trump has moved to ban Tencent’s WeChat and ordered ByteDance to divest itself of TikTok’s US operations, while India blocked dozens more Chinese apps earlier this year,” The Verge observed.
Nikkei Asian Review (NAR) said the “clampdown” on Tencent and Baidu is “part of a broader move by the Taiwanese government to ramp up scrutiny by mainland Chinese companies.” More regulations are coming soon to control Chinese investment in sensitive Taiwanese industries, notably its world-class semiconductor manufacturers, whose technology China desperately covets.
Taiwanese officials are also “considering redefining Hong Kong investments as Chinese investments following the controversial National Security Law imposed in July by Beijing on the former British colony,” according to NAR.
As with the controversy surrounding efforts to ban TikTok in the U.S. and India, some Taiwanese users grumbled about the government blocking content they enjoy watching. Many supported the idea of additional regulations, but thought outright bans to close loopholes were crude, and unlikely to have much of an impact on the Chinese corporations, since Taiwan’s population is relatively small.
“If watching the content on iQiyi carries the risk of being brainwashed, what about watching Chinese dramas on YouTube Premium?” a Taiwanese user of Baidu’s platform asked NAR, pointing out that content from the Chinese mainland is readily available from other sources.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted analysts who noted that Taiwan’s market might be small and Chinese content may be easy for Taiwanese to find, but the new Taiwanese regulations join a growing worldwide movement of restrictions against Chinese influence that should have Beijing worried.