More than 1,000 academics and workers in the cultural sector signed a petition launched by communication academics to protest against the cross-strait service trade agreement, which would allow Chinese investment in the nation’s printing and advertising industries.
The petition has garnered more than a thousand signatures within two days of its launch, with National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism director Hung Chen-ling (洪貞玲), National Chengchi University’s Department of Journalism chair Lin Yuan-huei (林元輝), National Taiwan Normal University’s Graduate Institute of Mass Communication director Kelly Hu (胡綺珍), National Chengchi University’s Department of Radio & Television chair Hsu Chiung-wen (許瓊文), Shih Hsin University’s Department of Journalism chair Hu Guang-shiash (胡光夏) and many professors from various universities’ communication-related departments among the petition’s initiators.
“As everybody knows, the media is directly and indirectly affected by the advertising industry, and freedom of speech is closely related to the publishing, printing, releasing and retailing industries,” Hung said at the press conference yesterday.
It is also common sense that the signing of a free-trade agreement should not pose risks to national security, she added.
“As cross-strait exchanges have become more frequent, a fact needs to be kept in mind: Taiwan and China are still to an extent adversaries, hostile to each other and therefore exchanges between the two can pose security risks,” the petition said.
“As China continues to be a (post-)authoritarian country that employs strict censorship and limits freedom of expression, a service trade pact that liberalizes Chinese investment in publishing-related industries without undertaking comprehensive assessments on the impact on Taiwan’s related industries and freedom of speech would detrimentally threaten Taiwan’s vibrant, plural, democratic and free environment,” it said.
One of the petition’s initiators is former Presidential Office national policy adviser Rex How (郝明義), who is also a publisher.
At the press conference, How criticized Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai’s (龍應台) recent remarks about the pact not affecting the publishing industry because Chinese investment is “only allowed in the printing industry.”
“The relationship between printing, releasing, retailing and publishing as upstream and downstream industries can be paralleled to shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. Can you insist that your hands are not touched when your shoulders, arms and wrists have all been given away?” How asked.
Hu Yuan-hui (胡元輝), an associate professor at National Chung Cheng University’s Department of Communication, described the service trade pact as a “Faustian bargain,” saying that China’s influence on publishing-related industries was not aimed at economic gains, but at permeating every corner of the country with Chinese information.
Laurent Shen (沈志儒), creative director of Moulin-Orange (橘子磨坊), a company operating in the advertising industry, said that “Taiwan is not free anymore,” adding that in the signature collection campaign in support of the Sunflower movement within the industry, many working in the field were “only willing to support in private due pressure from you-know-what.”
He said Taiwan’s advertising industry is not afraid of international competition, but of “a liberalization and competition that forces the forfeiture of free consciousness.”