Activists call for cross-strait media freedom agreement

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Mar 06, 2013 - Page 4

Advocacy groups pushing for democracy and media freedom yesterday urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to seek a cross-strait agreement on media freedom and called on Beijing to stop censoring news reporting.

The agreement should include protection of the freedom of news gathering, personal safety, news reporting, the Internet, publications, personal actions and no governmental interference in media operations, advocates told a press conference organized by Cross-Strait Agreement Watch (CSAW), Taiwan Democracy Watch (TDW) and the Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ).

Safeguarding media freedom has become a salient issue and should be the top priority, because Beijing has repeatedly proposed the establishment of media institutions for Taiwan and China in each other’s territory, TDW convener Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) said.

“Taiwan’s media freedom should not be a bargaining chip on the cross-strait negotiation table,” Hsu said.

If Beijing keeps its censorship policy in place, cross-strait media exchanges would be meaningless, because various laws in China contained definite regulations on news censorship, Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) of CSAW said.

ATJ president Chen Hsiao-yi (陳曉宜) said Beijing regularly grants access to news gathering to selected Taiwanese media, a strategy to control the media which could prevent the truth from being reported, and that was why media institutions across the Strait should not be established before the right to report news is protected.

The Mainland Affairs Council responded to the call in a press release, saying the council has again called on Beijing to respect and protect freedom of the media.

The government has laid out the priority issues in media-related cross-strait exchanges, including ending China’s blocking of Taiwanese news Web sites and an agreement on the publication of Taiwanese magazines in China, it said.