Panelists at a forum yesterday in Taipei urged local media to widen coverage beyond domestic issues to include more international news and Chinese affairs to help people in Taiwan understand the problems that the nation is facing.
The panelists shared the same opinion on what they see as a major problem for Taiwanese media — a lack of coverage of international issues and of China.
The symposium on media freedom in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan was organized by National Tsing Hua University’s Center for Asia Policy, and chaired by former American Institute in Taiwan director William Stanton.
Peter Enav, the Associated Press Taipei bureau chief, said that there is only one issue that matters to Taiwan’s future, but “the issue is never discussed in the press here.”
As a nation facing a stronger China, a less robust US commitment and a highly divided society, the only issue that matters is: “Where is Taiwan going to be five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years down the line? Who is going to run this place?” Enav said.
Enav, who came to Taiwan from Israel nine years ago, said a parallel he expected to find between the nations was situational awareness, because both face existential security challenges.
The media in Israel constantly discusses the country’s situation in the regional and international environment, Enav said.
“I expected to find the same sort of vigorous debate in the [Taiwanese] press, key to awareness of Taiwan’s situation,” but instead “found rubber ducks.”
Journalist Austin Ramzy, who flew to Taiwan in January after being denied a Chinese visa and accreditation as a New York Times journalist by Beijing, said that in the Taiwanese press, the coverage of the outside world is limited, including news from China outside points where Taiwanese and Chinese issues directly intersect.
Ramzy encouraged local media to pay more attention to China, and not just cross-strait topics.
China’s influence on Taiwan’s future is growing and everything happening in China “automatically influences the way China perceives Taiwan,” Ramzy said.
“At a time when people are worried about the influence of China on Taiwan, I would say that the best response is to push back — and the way to do that is to cover China more closely,” Ramzy said.