Taiwan moved up six places in this year’s World Press Freedom Index, released yesterday by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), but don't start cheering just yet.
The Paris-based watchdog organization said that the jump “does not reflect real improvements, but rather a global worsening of the situation in the rest of the world.”
According to the report, the number of countries with a “good” or “fairly good” state of the media has fallen by 2.3 percent, with press freedom deteriorating in nearly two-thirds of the 180 countries on the index.
At 45th place, Taiwan still boasts the most liberal press in Asia, with South Korea and Mongolia trailing in 63rd and 69th place respectively.
The ranking is one of the major factors that compelled RSF to open their first Asia bureau headquarters in Taipei earlier this month.
The organization chose Taipei over Hong Kong, which while 54th in 2012, has plummeted to a new low of 73rd, under the shadow of China — which consistently ranks within the bottom 10. Taiwan has remained relatively stable, hovering between 45th and 51st place since 2010. It now trails the US by two places.
The index describes Taiwan’s situation as “media freedom on hold,” stating that “the main threat to media freedom comes from China, which has been exerting growing economic and political pressure on the Taiwanese media.”
Local government officials are also directly interfering in the editorial policies of state-owned media, it said.
“Even in democracies like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, media freedom shall never be taken for granted, as political and financial powers will always try to interfere if they get a chance,” RSF Asia Bureau director Cedric Alviani said. “Self-censorship is another problem … a lot of journalists cannot freely write what they want because they might get in trouble.”
Alviani said that China’s efforts to pressure businesses to censor media content can also affect Taiwan.
Recently, Apple TV blocked the satirical China Uncensored show not only in China, but also in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Produced in New York, the show is highly critical of Beijing and can still be viewed in Taiwan on YouTube.
“This is a big concern for us,” he said. “It is a very bad precedent that might lead to other things. It looks small, but it is not. There is a risk for Hong Kong, and Taiwan in a lesser measure, to be dragged down by Chinese intervention.”
Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said Taiwan’s improved rating in the index this year serves as proof that the nation’s years-long pursuit of progressive values of democracy, freedom and human rights has earned international recognition.
“Press freedom is a significant indicator when evaluating a nation’s level of freedom. Taiwan will continue to adhere to these values, consolidate democracy and dedicate itself to maintaining the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region,” Lin said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
This story has been corrected since it was first published.
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a