There is nothing new in the view that the country’s pro-unification media are less than truthful in their reporting, so why did the China Times catch so much flak recently?
On Jan. 20, the Washington Post, one of the most important newspapers in the US, followed up on Taiwan’s presidential election with an interview with Want Want Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) in which Tsai gave his views on cross-strait unification, called China democratic, said that what happened at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989, wasn’t really a massacre and added that he could not wait for unification to take place.
He also admitted that he had fired the editor of the China Times because he “hurt me by offending people, not just mainlanders. On lots of things, people were offended.” The editor had called Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), the chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, a “third-rate” politician. In addition, Tsai said that reporters were free to criticize, but that they “need to think carefully before they write.”
Many think that the China Times is heavily biased, but the paper is allowed to continue in its ways thanks to the freedom of expression and of the market.
However, many academics felt that Tsai’s use of his big media empire this time to whitewash the Chinese regime’s suppression of democracy and human rights and distortion of facts in an attempt to denigrate Taiwan’s democracy and freedom has made an active and collective protest necessary.
A lot of people might worry that Taiwan’s freedom of the press is being undermined and that Taiwanese media outlets are being used to oppose democracy and freedom. Now Tsai wants to buy China Network Systems’ cable TV network, which will affect 23 percent of viewers in Taiwan.
The recent presidential election made it clear that many facts are being distorted in order to use talk of democracy and freedom as an excuse to destroy that very democracy and freedom. It is abundantly clear that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using China-based Taiwanese businesspeople to force political talks with Taiwan.
Those wealthy pro-CCP Taiwanese businesspeople are not really President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) friends or fans; they only love themselves, and what they want is the wealth the Chinese market has to offer. Some people are trying to find excuses for them by saying that businesspeople have no nation.
One can be sure that these people do not travel on a Republic of China passport only: With their wealth, they can buy themselves an “investor’s passport” in any country of their choosing.
However, normal people have to have a home country. There are at least 6.09 million Taiwanese voters who can begin by taking action for themselves — they can refuse to read the China Times, refuse to buy inferior Chinese goods and food products, and refuse to buy the products of pro-CCP companies.
Not only will that protect their own security, it will also help build Taiwanese awareness. Only by building and insisting on Taiwanese values can Taiwanese be free from fear.
Chang Yen-hsian is president of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.
Translated by Perry Svensson