Wed, Feb 27, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Media watchdog to release report on China influence

TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY:Reporters Without Borders is to collaborate with Taiwan Media Watch and a local association to promote freedom of the press in Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

From left, Taiwan Media Watch chairman Lai Ting-ming, Reporters Without Borders East Asia Bureau director Cedric Alviani and Association of Taiwan Journalists secretary-general Ian Chen hold up copies of a cooperation agreement they signed in Taipei on Monday.

Photo: CNA

Reporters Without Borders will release a report next month to raise awareness of Beijing’s ongoing campaign to influence world media in forging a positive image of China, East Asia bureau director Cedric Alviani said on Monday.

The report, to be released on March 27 in French, English and Chinese, would detail Beijing’s growing influence in the world media in the past decade, he told a news conference.

The Chinese campaign got its start after the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, when the Chinese government found that international media tended to hold an unfriendly view of its autocratic regime, he said.

Over the years, China has bought stakes in many international media outlets, including Chinese-language media, to try to increase its influence on the world stage and shape public opinion that is more favorable to China, he said.

Those efforts have paid off, as many international media and especially Chinese-language media have gradually changed their anti-China rhetoric into more pro-China stances, he said.

A large chunk of China’s media acquisitions have gone unnoticed, and Reporters Without Borders is compiling a complete list of such incidents and putting them into a single report in the hope of getting the world to wake up to Beijing’s campaign, Alviani said.

“With the report, we expect we can stir up the interest of the whole world on how China is actively penetrating the media around the world,” he said.

Monday’s news conference was held to mark the two-year anniversary of the global press freedom watchdog’s Taipei office, which opened on April 1, 2017.

Alviani said he believes that the organization made a wise choice in opening the office in Taiwan.

“We are glad we did it,” he said.

Taiwan has the best press freedom in Asia, with its ranking in the World Press Freedom Index for last year compiled by the organization moving up three notches to 42nd place, but its media environment still had a lot of room for improvement, he said.

Although the media are free from direct interference from the government, they still face challenges from economic and political powers, he said.

He also lamented a lack of newcomers in local media circles, saying that new entrants were important for promoting press freedom.

The government should work to improve the local media environment by investing in building a stronger and bigger public media group or offering more incentives to encourage the founding of new private media, he said.

At the news conference, Reporters Without Borders signed memorandums of understanding with the Association of Journalists of Taiwan and Taiwan Media Watch to work together to promote media freedom in Taiwan.

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