Taiwan campaign clip misleadingly shared as 'KMT supporters endorsing opposing candidate'

As campaigning hit fever pitch in crucial Taiwanese elections in January 2024, misleading posts have shared a video they say shows supporters of the main opposition Kuomintang backing competing presidential candidate Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People's Party. While talks to have a unified opposition ticket fell apart dramatically, the two parties have agreed to cooperate to consolidate legislative votes against Taiwan's ruling party. The video shows a KMT legislative candidate waving at Ko as he drove by his office in New Taipei City while campaigning.

The TikTok video, which has been shared more than 1,000 times, was posted here on January 2, 2024.

It shows several campaign vehicles driving slowly down a narrow street with people on board chanting in support of TPP chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je.

Overlaid traditional Chinese text on the video reads: "Kuomintang supporters know that their candidate Hou Yu-ih has no hope in the election, so they turn to Ko Wen-je."

The video circulated ahead of a crucial January 13 election -- a vote that is being closely watched because it will shape Taipei's future relations with China, which claims the self-ruled island as its territory.

Voters will concurrently elect a new legislature in the January poll.

The pro-Beijing KMT had initially planned to join forces with the less-established TPP to increase their chances against the ruling Democratic Progressive Party  (DPP).

But the parties registered separate tickets for the presidential election after negotiations broke down in spectacular fashion when a televised live meeting between the parties descended into cross-talk and arguments.

Screenshot of the misleading TikTok video, captured on January 8, 2024

The video was also shared elsewhere on TikTok here, here and here.

But it is not proof that KMT supporters have shunned their own presidential candidate in favour of Ko.

Campaign motorcade

An analysis of the misleading video shows the front of the vehicle carrying Ko is affixed with the number "1" -- Ko's ballot number in the upcoming election (archived links).

Subsequent keyword searches found the video corresponds to a livestream of Ko campaigning in the Xinzhuang District of New Taipei City that was uploaded to Ko's verified YouTube channel on January 2, 2024 (archived link).

The clip used on TikTok matches with footage seen between the livestream's 36:58 and 38:06 marks.

Below are screenshot comparisons of the misleading TikTok video (left) and Ko's livestream (right):

Screenshot comparisons of the misleading TikTok video (left) and Ko's livestream (right)

The people waving as Ko drives past, identified in the video as being KMT supporters, are in fact a KMT legislative candidate for Xinzhuang District -- Chiang Hsin-chang -- and his campaign team.

The Central News Agency (CNA) -- a partially state-funded news outlet in Taiwan – reported that Ko drove by KMT legislative candidates, including Chiang, while campaigning (archived link).

"When passing by Chiang Hsin-chang's campaign headquarters, Chiang and his campaign team came out of the headquarters and shouted 'Come on, Ko Wen-je'," CNA reported.

Although the proposed single opposition presidential candidate fell apart, some KMT and TPP candidates have called for "unity" to consolidate votes against the ruling DPP in the legislative race.

According to a January 8 report from CNA, some legislative candidates from KMT and TPP have shared campaign moments (archived link).

The TPP has not fielded a legislative candidate in Chiang's district (archived link).

Local newspapers United Daily News and Liberty Times and broadcaster Taiwan Television also reported on the campaign event and the interaction with Chiang (archived links here, here and here).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image taken from the misleading TikTok video (left) and clearer photo of Chiang in front of his campaign headquarters published in the Liberty Times report (right), with corresponding features highlighted by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the image taken from the misleading TikTok video (left) and a Liberty Times photo of the interaction (right)

AFP has previously debunked misinformation related to the Taiwan presidential poll in January 2024 here and here.

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