Taiwan and South Korea made solid bounds in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2010 World Press Freedom Index released yesterday, rising 11 and 27 places respectively, while China languished in 171st place.
“Taiwan and South Korea rose … after noteworthy falls in the 2009 Index,” Paris-based RSF wrote, placing Taiwan in 48th place and South Korea 42nd.
“Although some problems persist, such as the issue of the state-owned media’s editorial independence, arrests and violence have ceased,” RSF said.
In a press release on Oct. 1, the media watchdog called on Taipei to respect the independence of public media and said it was “disturbed” by Sylvia Feng’s (馮賢賢) ouster as president of Public Television Service (PTS).
It reminded the government “of its undertakings to respect the state-owned media’s independence.”
Explaining its decision to rank Taiwan 59th last year, RSF had said: “The new ruling party [Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)] in Taiwan tried to interfere in state and privately owned media while violence by certain activists further undermined press freedom.”
In its latest report on Taiwan released earlier this year, US-based Freedom House also raised questions over the independence of state-owned media and the impact of media conglomerates on freedom of expression.
During the last two years of the administration of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Taiwan ranked 36th (2008) and 32nd (2007).
RSF meanwhile came down hard on China, writing: “When the press lives under the control of an authoritarian regime, it is obliged to censor and to self-censor. Chinese intellectual Liu Xiaobo [劉曉波] was sentenced to eleven years behind bars for denouncing this situation — a struggle which was rewarded by the Nobel Peace Prize — bringing new hope to the Asia-Pacific area.”
“China, despite its dynamic media and Internet, remains in a low position because of non-stop censorship and repression, notably in Tibet and Xinjiang,” the report said. “[It] still censors and jails dissidents and continues to languish in 171st place.”
Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden continued to top the list, while Eritrea ranked worst, at 178th, preceded by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iran and Myanmar. Japan ranked 11th.