Taiwan has a key role to play in addressing China’s threat to press freedom, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) secretary-general Christophe Deloire said yesterday, as the organization launched its first East Asian bureau headquartered in Taipei.
“China wants to set up a new world media order and that’s a vast campaign for China — the country regime wants to change the rest of the world before we succeed in changing China,“ Deloire said. “We consider Taiwan to have a key role to play making China change before China changes us.”
“Taiwan is pure evidence that democracy and press freedom are possible in Chinese culture, and that is really one of the strongest arguments against claims by Beijing authorities their system is really adapted to Chinese culture. Taiwan is probably one of the societies which is most able to exercise an influence not only in China, but also throughout the rest of the world regarding this fight for democracy and press freedom in China,” he said, adding that the bureau would be charged with monitoring regional press freedom and engaging in government advocacy, as well as taking responsibility for regional publications, activities and fundraising.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
RSF’s decision to base its bureau in Taiwan has drawn attention as a potential trend away from using Hong Kong as a regional base for the operations of non-governmental organizations, with Freedom House reportedly also considering setting up a regional office in Taichung.
“We chose to open the office in Taipei rather than in Hong Kong because of legal safety and security considerations — there were risks of surveillance against our team in Hong Kong, but not in Taipei,” Deloire said. “Taiwan is also the best area in the whole area in the whole region for press freedom, so it also made sense to set up our office here.”
Taiwan was this year ranked 45th out of 180 nations in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, compared with South Korea (63), Japan (72) and Hong Kong (73) making it the only nation in the region ranked as “fairly good” instead of “problematic,” “bad” or “very bad.”
“We do not consider Taiwan’s situation perfect, because we do consider there to be a clear lack of independence of newsrooms from boardrooms and owners. There is also even a risk — and sometimes the risk is already a reality — of Chinese interference on the editorial line of media outlets,” Deloire said, calling for the removal of criminal penalties from the nation’s defamation laws.
Taipei was chosen over Taichung and Kaohsiung “because it’s the capital and it’s easier to come and meet people,” Deloire said, adding that he would like to see the bureau hire up to seven people within five years.
RSF Taipei bureau director Cedric Alviani said the group was still completing its government registration, with the Taipei Department of Information and Tourism still preparing the bureau’s office space, which should open by year’s end.
The Cabinet yesterday welcomed and congratulated the RSF on its announcement of plans to open its first Asia bureau in Taipei, an indication of Taiwan’s achievements in democracy, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.
Additional reporting by Chen Wei-han
TAIWAN PROTECTION MEASURE: US Army General Charles Flynn would not say where in the Asia-Pacific the missiles would be sent, but only that they would arrive in 2024 The US is to send medium-range missiles including the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) and Tomahawk to the Asia-Pacific next year to deter a Chinese attack on Taiwan, US military news Web site Defense One reported. The report cited comments US Army General Charles Flynn made during the annual Halifax International Security Forum on Nov. 19. “We have tested them and we have a battery or two of them today,” Flynn was quoted as saying. “In 24. We intend to deploy that system in your region. I’m not going to say where and when. But I will just say that we will
UNUSUAL UPTICK: There are more flu-like illnesses in northern China than in the past 3 years, but data from Beijing showed that known pathogens are responsible Responding to an uptick in respiratory illnesses in China, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said it has instructed international airport and port quarantine centers to raise their alert levels, and plans to issue an alert to healthcare practitioners. The number of flu-like illnesses reported in northern China has been increasing for five consecutive weeks, and is higher than the same period in the past three years, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said. “According to the WHO’s latest statement, issued yesterday, information provided by Chinese government showed that the illnesses were mainly reported among children, and the illnesses were attributed
LOYALTY: The 10 active and retired soldiers betrayed the nation and its people by leaking and passing on military secrets to China, the High Prosecutors’ Office said Ten former and current military officers were yesterday indicted on charges of spying for China, including two who allegedly filmed themselves pledging loyalty to Beijing. The High Prosecutors’ Office requested life imprisonment for the suspects in light of the severity of the crime. The 10 active-duty and retired officers included members of the 601st Brigade of the Aviation Special Forces comprising attack helicopter squadrons and elite combat units in charge of defending northern Taiwan, including Taipei. The other suspects came from Huadong Defense Command, in charge of defending the eastern coast; Kinmen Defense Command, in charge of defending Kinmen and Matsu; and one
‘OPEN TO DIALOGUE’: Her alliance with Vice President William Lai is based on their commitment to preserve the nation’s freedom and democracy, Hsiao Bi-khim said Taiwan should “trust, but verify” reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) denied that Beijing plans to invade Taiwan in 2027, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) told reporters yesterday. “We anticipate and we hope that Chairman Xi Jinping was sincere when he said there was no timetable” for bringing Taiwan under control by force, said Hsiao, who earlier this week resigned as the representative to the US to join the ticket of DPP nominee, Vice President William Lai (賴清德). Borrowing a phrase from former US president Ronald Reagan — which US President Joe Biden also used after