Jan 08, 2013

Taiwan: Minister Expresses Concern Over Media Freedom In China

After an unjustifiable censoring incident, Taiwan is concerned about developments of media freedom in the Peoples’ Republic of China. Mainland Affairs Minister Wang hopes that mainland Chinese authorities will respect freedom of the press, and cooperate in cross-strait journalistic exchanges. 

Below you can find an article published by Focus Taiwan:


Taiwan is concerned about developments of media freedom in China, Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi said Monday [January 7th, 2013].

Fielding questions at a Legislative Yuan hearing, Wang also expressed the hope that mainland Chinese authorities will respect freedom of the press.

He was referring to allegations that Guangdong Province propaganda chief Tuo Zhen had unjustifiably censored a major Chinese newspaper's New Year's editorial.

The incident has sparked protests from staff of the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly newspaper, which is known for hard-hitting journalism that often tests the Chinese government's tolerance.

Many prominent Chinese public intellectuals and Internet users have voiced support for the newspaper's editorial staff and are even pushing for Tuo's resignation from his post over the incident.

A New York Times report said the turmoil is "pitting a pent-up popular demand for change against the Communist Party of China's desire to maintain a firm grip."

The Wall Street Journal said in a Monday article that the Southern Weekly controversy poses a test of new China leader Xi Jinping's views on media freedom.

The following are local media coverage of the latest developments in the controversial event in China:

Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi told lawmakers that his council is concerned about developments of media freedom in China.

"Therefore, we have spared no efforts to promote cross-Taiwan Strait journalistic exchanges in the hope of inspiring changes and reforms in mainland China," Wang said.

Over the past years, he said, the Mainland Affairs Council has commissioned private organizations to invite reporters and editorial staff of major mainland media outlets to visit Taiwan and see for themselves developments of media freedom and democracy in the country.

In addition, he said, Taiwan has opened doors for major Chinese media outlets to post journalists in Taipei.

"We believe that increased cross-strait journalistic exchanges will inspire changes on the mainland gradually and unobtrusively," Wang explained at the legislative hearing. [Jan. 7, 2013].

More than 20 scholars from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong have signed an open letter urging Hu Chunhua, the Communist Party chief in Guangdong Province, to dismiss the province's top propaganda official Tuo Zhen over the Southern Weekly issue.

Only Tuo's departure can safeguard Guangdong's status as the trailblazer of China's economic reform and opening to the world, the signatories said in their open letter.

According to Southern Weekly editorial staff, Tuo secretly overhauled a New Year's editorial in the paper, replacing its call for greater checks on government powers with a propaganda puff piece.

The signatories said they were worried that allowing Tuo to stay in office could bring about more negative impacts on the province's future developments.

Mao Yushih, a Chinese economist who was one of the petition's initiators, said the campaign has drawn warm response from many mainland intellectuals and Internet users.

"We hope the Guangdong provincial party committee will not ignore calls for Tuo's removal and for sweeping reforms," Mao said.

Chiang Ming-hsiu, a public administration professor at Taiwan's National Chengchi University who has singed the petition, said he could not sit on hands when a mainland news media outlet was enduring rough interference.

"Many cross-strait issues are correlated. While we in Taiwan are enjoying press freedom, we should not turn a blind eye to Chinese journalists enduring headwinds," Chiang said.

The letter was posted on major Chinese social networks such as Sina and Tencent microblogs, on Sunday, but was removed by those websites’ censors shortly afterwards. (Jan. 7, 2013).