The Chinese News Service newswire will be permitted, for the time being, to continue stationing journalists in Taiwan pending further assessment, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) officials said yesterday.
While the Chinese News Service's two-month trial period was originally to expire this month, the Government Information Office and the MAC issued a statement yesterday postponing a decision on letting the Chinese newswire have a permanent station in Taiwan, and opted instead to extend the trial period indefinitely. Chen Huei-ying (陳會英), the MAC's Department of Cultural and Educational Affairs director, yesterday defended the decision, saying that while the agency's reporting was determined to be "balanced and honest," the council felt that more time was needed to accurately assess the impact of allowing its journalists to work in Taiwan.
Chen refrained from naming any of the specific issues the council would be assessing during the extended trial period. Since the council first opened its doors to the Chinese News Service in July, a total of four journalists from the newswire have worked in Taiwan. The MAC, however, allows only two reporters from each Chinese media agency to be stationed in Taiwan at a time.
MAC Vice Chairman Johnnason Liu (劉德勳) downplayed the extension of the newswire's trial period, joking that the "small three links" have been operating on a trial basis since they were inaugurated in January 2001. He also said that the "small three links" nevertheless continued to operate.
Chen also noted that the extension of the original trial period was not directed at Chinese News Service specifically, but rather its status as the second Chinese newswire agency to assign correspondents to Taipei. He said the government has authorized only one media agency for each of the primary news mediums -- newspaper, radio, television and wire service. The Chinese News Service would be the second newswire after China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency (新華社) to operate here. Chen also mentioned the council's concerns that extending Chinese News Service's tenure here would set a precedent which may lead to similar requests in the future.
Since the council opened its doors to select Chinese news agencies in November 2000, upwards of 240 Chinese reporters have been stationed in Taipei. Aside from the Chinese News Service, reporters from Xinhua News Agency, the People's Daily, China Central People's Radio Station, and China Central Television are authorized to work in Taiwan.