Aug 17, 2022
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On Thursday,  multiple counties and cities across Taiwan experienced unexplained power outages, shutting down the power to five and a half million households. The power outages were affecting Taipei City, Kaohsiung City, Keelung City, New Taipei City, Hualien City, Keelung City, and Tainan City, according to Taiwan News. Rolling blackouts were also occurring in the central and northern parts of the country. The blackouts happened outside peak hours, which shows the problem was not due to power shortages

On Friday, the power company released a statement blaming the blackouts on human error. Chairman Yang Wei-fuu and General Manager Chung Bin-li of the state-run utility Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) tendered their resignations over the massive blackouts.

In May 2021, Taiwan experienced two major power outages that were also attributed to human error. In 2017, a massive blackout hit half of Taiwan, affecting 6.68 million households.

In December, Taipower claimed that they were targeted by cyberattacks almost every day, but operations of the power grid have not been compromised

According to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Yi-Ying, Taiwan suffers up to 5 million cyberattacks a day, which necessitates sound protection for key energy facilities to avoid incidents such as the massive blackouts in Ukraine caused by hacking. Ukraine was targeted by massive cyber attacks in the months preceding the invasion. 

In 2017, Taipower’s Dalin Power Plant in Kaohsiung fell victim to a WannaCry ransomware attack that plagued 700 computers involved in the administrative system. Fortunately, computers controlling the generators were running independently and thus not affected by the malware.

The power outage coincided with a visit by former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo was sanctioned by the Chinese government after leaving office. Upon arriving on his recent visit, he further angered the  Chinese government by referring to Taiwan as an independent country. The Taiwanese government has declared itself independent of China and refers to itself as the Republic of China, a title most world leaders refrain from using.

Many political experts are concerned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will open the way for China to invade Taiwan. 

“When we watch the events in Ukraine evolving … we are also watching very carefully what China may do to Taiwan,” Joseph Wu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China, said at a press conference on Monday. “The danger will be that the Chinese leaders think that the Western reaction to the Russian aggression is weak and not coherent, and not having any impact. The Chinese might take that as a positive lesson,” added Wu. 

Wu said the world has seen an “expansion of authoritarianism.”

“President Xi Jinping has also spoken about the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, including building up militarily around China,” Wu said.

In a related story, five Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday, marking the fourth intrusion by a total of 15 military aircraft this month. This included nine fighter jets, four spotter planes, and two helicopters. In response, Taiwan sent aircraft, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defense missile systems to track the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) planes.