The Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) yesterday protested China’s refusal to issue visas to two Taiwanese journalists who had planned to accompany Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) on his visit to China, while urging the council to take action to defend the freedom of the press.
Wang is scheduled to meet with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) in Nanjing, China, tomorrow.
A total of 89 journalists from 43 media outlets in Taiwan have signed up to cover the upcoming Wang-Zhang meeting, according to MAC statistics.
According to a statement released by the ATJ yesterday, among Taiwanese media outlets accompanying Wang, visa applications from reporters from for the Chinese-language Apple Daily and Radio Free Asia were turned down by Chinese authorities without explanation.
“China’s unilateral restriction of reporters’ access is a serious violation of the freedom of the press,” the statement said. “If Wang cannot express the deepest regrets over the issue, he would be, in fact, agreeing to negotiate with China in an unjust way, and should explain to the public the reason behind his decision.”
The statement added that, since 2008, Taiwan has never rejected any visa application by Chinese journalists, but China has not treated reporters from Taiwan the same way.
“Prior to any talk about mutually creating representative offices, Taiwan should negotiate with China to better protect the freedom of news gathering, the freedom of movement, the freedom of reporting, the freedom of the Internet, the freedom of communications and the personal safety of journalists from Taiwan,” the statement said. “In addition, journalists should stay free of government intervention.”
There was no response from the council as of press time.
The Wang-Zhang meeting will be the first-ever meeting between the incumbent cross-strait policymakers of the two sides.
MAC officials said a key goal of the encounter was to institutionalize regular communications between the MAC and TAO, but added that it has nothing to do with paving the way for a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as has been speculated.
During his four-day trip in China, Wang will expect “reciprocal and dignified” treatment from his hosts, officials added. They said that China will not give Wang “red carpet” treatment, but is likely to expedite customs and immigration procedures for him and provide him with a police motorcade.
Wang, who is heading a delegation of close to 20 Taiwanese officials, is to be received by TAO Vice Director Chen Yuanfeng (陳元豐) upon arrival in Nanjing tomorrow, and will meet with Zhang in the afternoon. The following day, Wang is scheduled to visit the mausoleum of Republic of China founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) in Nanjing and speak at Nanjing University.
Wang is to head to Shanghai on Thursday and visit think tanks there, including the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, before winding up his trip on Friday.