Taiwan has the highest level of press freedom in East Asia, even though China seeks to influence its media narratives, according to the US government-funded Freedom House.
Freedom House, which says it is dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy, on Tuesday released a report titled Freedom and the Media: A Downward Spiral, which shows the press freedom score of 195 countries on a scale of zero to four.
The score indicates whether there is free and independent media in each country and evaluates media censorship, journalists’ freedom to report and government influence on the press.
Taiwan was the only East Asian country to receive the best score of four, which only 35 other countries received.
However, the Chinese government tries to influence Taiwan’s media narratives and undermine its electoral campaigns, the report said.
The report, citing the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said that “fake news” stories and doctored images originating in China tainting the reputation of the government are spread widely on social media, with some picked up and reported as fact by Taiwanese news outlets.
Suspected Chinese government agents have made offers to buy popular pro-Taiwan Facebook pages, while recruitment advertisements for live streamers with pro-unification views have also emerged online ahead of next year’s presidential election, the report said.
To counter the potential negative effect of Beijing’s media influence campaigns, the report recommends policies that improve transparency about Chinese activities, including reporting requirements for spending on paid advertorials, ownership structures and other economic ties to the Chinese government.
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