Political observer Paul Lin (林保華) has warned against cross-strait reciprocal media offices, accusing Beijing of planning the offices to carry out infiltration and espionage and to wage a war of political propaganda.
On Sunday last week, Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) called for an exchange of media offices, saying their establishment would contribute to peaceful development between the two sides and should be set up as soon as possible.
Lin said that Chinese state media outlets serve an entirely different function from the media in democratic countries, instead acting as the “voice of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Chinese journalists have to pass many levels of examination in an effort to ensure Beijing has total control of everyone in the media, he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has gone further to tighten media controls, he said.
At the Chinese Nationwide Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference in August, Xi mandated all journalism schools and universities to make students attend courses on “Marxist views” of journalism. Reporters are required to take weekly classes to ensure “political consistency” with the Chinese Communist Party line.
“China is stringent about selecting journalists with the right training and qualifications for its foreign correspondent posts. It places loyalty to the party and to the country very highly,” Lin said.
“Most Chinese overseas personnel have undergone national security and intelligence training,” he added.
Lin cited the 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in which three Chinese journalists were among the victims as an example of the close working relationship between China’s journalists and its government.
“Taiwan is a democratic nation. When Chinese reporters come here, they can go almost anywhere to cover news and our government does not interfere. Visits to our military bases would not be blocked, posing a threat to national security,” he said.
Saying that there is no freedom of the press in China, Lin said: “It won’t be possible for Taiwan to have a fair and equal role in any cross-strait media exchange.”
“Instead of setting up reciprocal media offices, the ban on Taiwanese news Web sites in China should be lifted,” he said.