Taiwan is a free country, with a level of political rights and civil liberties ranking second in Asia, behind Japan, according to an academic quoting the latest report of Freedom House, an organization devoted to the rating of freedom in countries.
Taiwan and 85 other countries, representing nearly 41 percent of the world's population, are considered "free," according to the results of a survey released recently by Freedom House.
The survey, conducted annually since 1981, classifies the world's countries as "free," "partly free" or "not free" based on their respective performances in the areas of political rights and civil liberties, according to Lee You-tan (
The study entitled Freedom in the World 2002-2003 concluded that, over the past year, Taiwan's citizens have enjoyed a level of political rights and civil liberties equal to that of the people of South Korea, Lee said.
Reporting the findings of Freedom House's latest survey at a symposium on democracy and human rights jointly sponsored by the institute and the non-profit Democracy Foundation, Lee said Freedom House praised Taiwan in 2000 for its transition to full democracy.
"Free and fair presidential elections and the orderly transfer of power in Taiwan further improved the country's level of political freedom," Freedom House said in its 2000-2001 report, in which Taiwan was ranked on a level similar to 30 other "free nations" including Japan, Germany, France, Italy and the UK.
This year, due to different assessment criteria, Taiwan was not ranked as high as it was in the 2000-2001 survey, but it still ranked second best in Asia along with South Korea, according to Lee.
Taiwan's "slightly lower" ranking this year reflects the fact that there is still ample room for Taiwan to improve its freedom, human rights and democratization, Lee said, adding that several issues, including corruption, sex discrimination in the workplace, domestic violence, teenage prostitution and abuse of foreign laborers all still need to be tackled.
Meanwhile, Singapore continued to be classified as a "partly free" state in the latest survey, while mainland China was again classified as "not free," Lee said.
Freedom House, established in New York in 1941, is a non-profit, non-partisan organization which promotes democracy and freedom around the world.