Tue, Dec 21, 2010 - Page 3 News List

CROSS-STRAIT TALKS: Official’s Facebook post stirs anger

By Lo Tien-pin  /  Staff Reporter, with Staff Writer

A senior Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official recently caused a stir with an entry he posted on his Facebook page on Saturday criticizing China’s news censorship.

“So much for talks about exchanges in journalism when [China] only allows the ‘yes men’ to be stationed in Taiwan, and if you are the disobedient kind, it won’t allow it,” Shih Wei-Chuan (施威全), a senior secretary at the MAC, wrote on his Facebook page, referring to China’s repeated proposal to sign a cross-strait cultural -exchange agreement with Taiwan to promote exchanges in journalism and allowing journalists to be stationed on the other side.

“What kind of exchange is it when it is a controlled exchange? Exchanges should not be defined by the ones in power,” he wrote, adding that the focus of cross-strait exchanges in journalism should be news information and content, instead of the number of journalists being stationed or the length of stay.

The entry was deleted on Sunday after the press questioned Shih about it.

Saying the views expressed on the post were purely personal, Shih said he had set the privacy level for that post as private, as he intended it to be read only by his close friends.

Commenting on the incident, Liao Yi-ming (廖義銘), an associated professor in the Department of Government and Laws at the National University of Kaohsiung, said it might be best for public servants to avoid penning their personal thoughts on the Web because it is hard to control who could see the post. It is also easier to blur the line between what is private and what is official when it comes to posting comments online, he added.

According to sources, the Government Information Office (GIO) recently sent an official to visit Beijing and Shanghai. The purpose of the trip was to understand Taiwanese journalists’ working situation, as well as to exchange opinions with leading Chinese media. The sources added that Beijing has previously requested permission to establish a Taipei branch of its Xinhua news agency. However, the GIO has so far not granted such a request, according to the sources.

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