Sun, Jan 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Beijing throws cloak over poll reporting

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff Reporter

Beijing authorities ordered Chinese media, Internet portals and Chinese tourists not to comment on yesterday’s presidential election in Taiwan, BBC Monitoring reported on Friday.

The Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily reported that the Central Propaganda Department had ordered Chinese media and Internet portals to rely solely on official media reports and refrain from commenting on the election, the report said.

Under the directive, media outlets could only carry reports by Xinhua news agency and China Central Television (CCTV) and were barred from carrying their own commentary on the election, the Oriental Daily quoted several senior Chinese media executives as saying.

Popular Internet portals such as Sina, Sohu and Tencent, which during the electoral campaign had been allowed surprising, if not entirely free, coverage of the election, have now been instructed to “limit” their coverage, the report said.

The Sun, another Hong Kong-based newspaper, reported on Tuesday that a sudden 30 percent drop in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan may have been an attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to limit exposure to Taiwanese democracy while freeing seats on airplanes so that China-based Taiwanese businesspeople, who tend to favor President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), could return to Taiwan to vote.

Chinese tourists in Taiwan were also ordered not to speak with media.

Canada’s Globe and Mail yesterday also reported that some groups of Chinese tousists had been instructed by Chinese authorities to remain in their hotel rooms on election day.

The Central News Agency on Monday also reported that the Taiwan Affairs Office had informed Taiwanese journalists based in Beijing that a routine press conference scheduled for Wednesday had been postponed. It did not give reasons, reports said.

In a commentary, the CCP-run Global Times said the significance of Taiwan’s election had “gradually declined” as “rationality is growing while extremism is on the wane in Taiwan,” BBC Monitoring reported.

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