New regulations by China’s Propaganda Department on provincial and metropolitan news media could have serious implications for investigative reporting and press freedom in the country, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday — and could undermine the ability of Chinese media to obtain information about Taiwan.
The latest restrictions reportedly include a ban on exchanges of newspaper articles with media in other provinces, and a prohibition on media in metropolitan areas carrying their own reporting on national or international stories, or modifying the coverage of stories on such topics provided by state-owned media.
It remains to be seen if the regulations would apply to Chinese media operating in Taiwan.
At present, five regional Chinese media outlets operate in Taiwan. Reporters from Fujian SETV, the Fujian Daily, Xiamen TV, Hunan Television, the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily and the Shenzhen Economic Daily are posted here.
Five state-owned outlets — Xinhua news agency, the People’s Daily, China Network Television, China National Radio and China News Service — also have reporters filing from Taiwan.
If the regulations are applied to Chinese media operating in Taiwan, the regional media outlets based here could be barred from providing their reporting to media in Chinese provinces, or media in metropolitan areas could be prohibited from using reporting about Taiwan from sources other than state-owned media, such as Xinhua.
The new regulations also include a call to cease all negative reporting about the police and judicial authorities.
Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper said the new regulations were implemented on July 1.
Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) regrets the ban.
“We hope every nation will respect freedom of the press. This is a value we have upheld all along,” he said yesterday.
Asked if the restrictions would affect Taiwan-based correspondents, Chiang said he didn’t know, adding the GIO would never interfere in how Chinese journalists portray Taiwan.
The Propaganda Department in four southern provinces, as well as in Beijing, has issued warnings to the editors of the main liberal news media, RSF said. Starting this month, Hunan Province newspapers have only carried dispatches from Xinhua in their international news sections. Several editors in Beijing, Guangdong and Shandong said they would stop exchanging articles with newspapers in other provinces.
Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) chairman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) said the organization had noticed the Chinese government was placing more restrictions on media and NGOs.
“We must join coordinated efforts to protest against this phenomenon,” Yang told the Taipei Times by telephone. “We know that many media workers in China are trying to resist and we support them.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG AND LOA IOK-SIN