Taiwan TV falsely reports Chinese attack on Taipei

The alerts included messages such as "a war could break out," a major train station in Taipei being set fire by "Chinese agents" and Taiwan's president declaring a state of emergency.

 Military vehicles carrying hypersonic cruise missiles DF-100 drive past Tiananmen Square during the 70th founding anniversary of People's Republic of China in Beijing (photo credit: THOMAS PETER/REUTERS)
Military vehicles carrying hypersonic cruise missiles DF-100 drive past Tiananmen Square during the 70th founding anniversary of People's Republic of China in Beijing
(photo credit: THOMAS PETER/REUTERS)

A Taiwan government-backed television station apologized and urged people not to panic on Wednesday after mistakenly reporting a Chinese attack in Taipei, amid rising military tensions with Beijing.

During a live news broadcast on Wednesday morning, Chinese Television System mistakenly showed news ticker alerts at the bottom of the screen about military ships and critical infrastructure near Taipei being hit by Chinese missiles, according to local media reports.

The alerts included messages such as "a war could break out," a major train station in Taipei being set fire by "Chinese agents" and Taiwan's president declaring a state of emergency.

"Citizens, please don't be overly panicked. We hereby clarify the information and apologize," an anchor said in the network's news bulletin at 10 a.m.

She said the alerts were meant for a drill with the Fire Department in New Taipei City on Tuesday but were mistakenly displayed on Wednesday morning because of a technical error.

 Taipei, Taiwan (Illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Taipei, Taiwan (Illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

There were no overt signs of panic in Taipei after the accidental bulletins.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, and has stepped up military activities nearby in the past two years to press the island into accepting Beijing's sovereignty claims.

Taiwan has raised its alert level since Russia invaded Ukraine, wary of China making a similar move, though the government has not reported any signs an attack is imminent.

The war in Ukraine, which Russia calls a "special military operation," has prompted debate on the implications for Taiwan and ways to boost preparedness, such as reforms to the training of reservists.

Last week, Taiwan's military released a handbook on civil defense for the first time, giving citizens survival guidance in a war scenario.