Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at the opening of a daycare centre in Taipei, Taiwan, August 2, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Shortly before the expected visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan, unknown persons paralyzed the website of the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Taiwan’s Office of the President confirmed that the Office’s website was hit by an overseas DDoS attack around 5:15 p.m. local time on Tuesday. Traffic was 200 times higher than on a normal day, resulting in the official website being unavailable for 20 minutes, Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS reported on Twitter.

The Office of the President said countermeasures had been taken so that the website is now functioning normally again. All government agencies have increased their vigilance and protective measures against the cyber attacks, said a spokesman for the President’s Office in Taipei. It was not said where the attacks came from.

As the third most powerful politician in the United States by protocol – after the President and Vice President – Pelosi had already planned a visit to the island state for April before a Covid infection thwarted her plans. Her trip to Taiwan is the strongest US political signal of support for Taipei in many years.

The People’s Republic of China regards Taiwan as an “inseparable part of Chinese territory,” while the Republic of China regards Taiwan as a sovereign state from which mainland China “broke away” with the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. In the past, both states claimed the right to sole international representation for all of China as part of the one-China policy.

Today, only a minority of the international community maintains formal diplomatic relations with the government in Taipei. Despite recognizing the People’s Republic of China, the US is supporting Taiwan with military equipment.

In the cyber sector, countries have been upgrading for years. The Chinese government added a specialized branch to its own military in 2015. As part of a military reform, the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Combat Support Force was established to operate as the fifth branch of the military. Their sphere of activity: outer space and the cybersphere.

“Successful cyberattacks can cripple Taiwan’s critical infrastructure and leave Taiwan vulnerable to subsequent attacks by the People’s Liberation Army,” Chen Yi-fan, a diplomatic and international relations expert at Tamkang University in New Taipei, told US radio station Voice of America”.

Successful cyber attacks from the People’s Republic of China could sow chaos and weaken Taiwan’s defenses. An invasion might be less costly for Beijing because there would be less resistance

Taiwanese government bodies and operators of the country’s critical infrastructure are already exposed to numerous cyber attacks from the People’s Republic of China every month. Taiwanese officials have previously said the island faces millions of cyberattacks every month, about half of which are said to originate from mainland China.