The China Daily has filed an appeal after the Government Information Office (GIO) decided to revoke the English-language paper’s Taiwan publication license, which was due to be renewed on Tuesday, an official said.
“We respect the decision reached at a review commission. [Commission members] found that the paper is filled with [China’s] united-front tactic [rhetoric against] Taiwan as alleged,” Vice Minister of the Government Information Office George Hsu (?? said.
The GIO decided to review the license issued to China’s only official English-language newspaper following a complaint by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) in March, who described the paper as a “united front” tool of Beijing against the Taiwanese.
The newspaper’s agent, CF Books Co, received permission from the GIO on July 1 last year to introduce the Hong Kong edition to Taiwan for a year, and sent an average of 1,000 newspapers free of charge to colleges, academic institutions, local officials and government institutions. The permission was revoked by the commission on May 19 after a review.
“After a review, members of the commission considered the content of the newspaper in violation of regulations governing the entry of publications into Taiwan,” Hsu said.
The GIO is entitled to revoke the permission for Chinese publications if they are propaganda tools of the Chinese government or used by Beijing as part of its united-front tactics. It was not required by any rules and regulations to refer the review of the case to a commission.
Asked if the same rationale would be applied to other Chinese publications, Hsu said the GIO will conduct its reviews on a case-by-case basis.
Cheng Cheng-chun (程正春), director of the GIO’s Department of Publications, said his office preferred to keep the identities of the commission members, who specialize in journalism and cross-strait issues, secret to prevent them from being pressured.
Among the reasons used to revoke the permission was that reports continually referred to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as “Taiwan leader,” put in brackets the terminologies representing Taiwan’s sovereignty, place news about Taiwan and Hong Kong on the same page, and its weather information showed Taiwan was part of China, Cheng said.
He said that the government had not censored the content in the paper before granting distribution permission last year.
An official with CF Books Co complained about the GIO’s move yesterday.
“What exactly is ‘united front’? What does it mean ‘being propaganda of the Chinese communist regime?’ ... There are 24 pages in the paper, and only five pages of it were in connection with Chinese news,” Liu Shih-wei (劉世瑋) told cable station TVBS.
The Executive Yuan’s Committee of Appeal will issue a ruling on the China Daily’s appeal in three months.