Hours before U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, several Taiwanese government websites were hacked. The arrival marked the visit of the first high-ranking U.S. official in 25 years to the self-governed island.
Chang Tun-Han, a spokesman for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, classified the hack as a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Chang claimed that an “overseas DDoS attack” caused the president’s office website to experience an increase in traffic of up to 200 times usual levels.
Amid the rising tensions between U.S. and China, Taiwan seems to be getting a lot of trouble from the latter. Though it was unclear who initiated the attack, some speculation suggests that China may have been responsible.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan plunges into a big controversy
Though the president’s website was restored 20 minutes after that attack, as stated by the spokesperson, several other government websites were compromised, and the English website for the president is still hacked and shows the word “OK” as the only text available in the top left corner of the page.
Official websites, including those of Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, National Defense Ministry, and its most significant airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International, was also compromised during the arrival of the U.S. House Speaker.
China said it would “pay the prize” if the U.S. official visited Taiwan during the Asia trip. China, in its statement, claimed that the visit of a U.S. official would be detrimental to the peace and stability between Taiwan and China since the latter considers Taiwan a renegade and opposes the separatist movement’s push for Taiwan’s independence from China.
Furthermore, the Taiwanese claim that hacking attacks on government websites were not the only ones that occurred during Pelosi’s visit to the Country. In Taiwan, multiple billboards and 7-Eleven locations were hacked and plastered with anti-Pelosi sentiments.
7-Eleven and billboards hacked with “‘Old Witch,’ ‘Pelosi get out of Taiwan!'” slogans
The DDoS attack is not the only thing that went wrong with Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Following the president’s office and government institutions, anti-Pelosi messages were posted on a number of billboards, convenience stores, and train stations in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s national security is being questioned at the moment after several display boards in convenience stores, and train stations were hacked stating the slogan “‘Old Witch,’ ‘Pelosi get out of Taiwan!'”
— 台灣屏東人 (@hdiojojo) August 3, 2022
The messages were a blatant indication that the defaulter was attempting to incite a war-like situation and telling the U.S. official to get out of Taiwan. The messages were captured by commuters at the Xin Zuoying station in Kaohsiung. One of the messages states, “The old witch’s visit to Taiwan is a serious provocation to the sovereignty of the Motherland… Greater China will ultimately be unified!”.
Nancy Pelosi replies to the allegation by China
Prior to the trip, on Friday, Xi Jinping, the president of China, informed the U.S. president that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would be in violation of the “One China” policy.
However, Nancy Pelosi finished her trip to Taiwan despite the criticism from China. On August 2, she tweeted about the incident and gave some definite cues on future collaboration between the US and Taiwan.
Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy.
Our discussions with Taiwan leadership reaffirm our support for our partner & promote our shared interests, including advancing a free & open Indo-Pacific region.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 2, 2022
Pelosi assured Taiwan in a tweet that the trip to Taiwan did not break Chinese law and that the United States would continue to support Taiwan’s strong democracy and integrity in the Indo-Pacific region.