Despite Taiwan moving up five places to No. 38 in the World Press Freedom Index released yesterday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the organization said more needed to be done to address a “toxic” working environment for journalists.
Taiwan’s ranking placed it fourth in the Asia-Pacific region, behind New Zealand (11th), East Timor (17th) and Bhutan (33rd), but ahead of Australia (39th) and South Korea (43rd).
Taiwan was among the 40 countries listed in the index as having a “satisfactory” media environment.
The index’s top three spots went to Norway, Denmark and Sweden in that order, with the three Nordic countries considered to have a “good” media environment.
Commenting on the latest index, Cedric Alviani, head of RSF’s East Asia Bureau, said the change in Taiwan’s ranking did not reflect the nation’s improvement, but was rather the result of a modified way of compiling the index.
“This year, Taiwan moving up five ranks does not reflect any significant improvement in terms of press freedom,” Alviani told the Central News Agency during a telephone interview yesterday. “So the movement is purely due to the new system we used to make the index.”
This change of criteria enabled the index to better reflect the current press freedom situation of every country, Alviani said.
While Taiwan has a favorable ranking, its press freedom situation has been “impaired” by some “serious problems,” he said.
Political polarization and the sensational approach that Taiwanese media take to report certain news pose an “obstacle” to the public getting factual and objective information, Alviani added.
RSF had for the past year repeatedly called on the government to take some measures to address these problems, such as providing serious funding for public broadcasters without compromising their editorial independence, he said.
He also said the working environment for journalists was “quite toxic” and that such a situation continued to impact Taiwan’s press freedom.
Many young journalists have changed jobs after a few years of work because they were underpaid and overworked, and because it was not possible for them to do quality reporting as they had been expected to do, Alviani said, citing RSF’s past interviews and discussions with Taiwanese journalists.
In East Asia, the press freedom situation is “getting worse,” he said.
In particular, the ranking of Hong Kong showed “one of the biggest downfalls ever in our index over the past 20 years,” Alviani said.
Hong Kong ranked 148th in this year’s index, slipping 68 spots from No. 80 in the previous ranking.
“One could be afraid that in a few years, let’s say before the end of the mandate [of the Sino-British Joint Declaration], freedom of the press in Hong Kong would be no better than freedom of the press in the rest of the country,” he said, referring to China, which finished at 175th in the index.
The US Department of State yesterday criticized Beijing over its misrepresentation of the US’ “one China” policy in the latest diplomatic salvo between the two countries over a bid by Taiwan to regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO. “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter. “The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and
FATES LINKED: The US president said that sanctions on Russia over Ukraine must exact a ‘long-term price,’ because otherwise ‘what signal does that send to China?’ US President Joe Biden yesterday vowed that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack in his strongest statement to date on the issue. Beijing is already “flirting with danger,” Biden said following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and joint Chinese-Russian exercises. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: “Yes.” “That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said. “We agreed with the ‘one China’ policy, we signed on to it ... but the idea that it can be
INFORMATION LEAKED: Documents from Xinjiang purportedly showed top leaders in Beijing calling for a forceful crackdown and even orders to shoot to kill Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday held a videoconference with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet as she visited Xinjiang during a mission overshadowed by fresh allegations of Uighur abuses and fears she is being used as a public relations tool. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been accused of detaining more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region as part of a years-long crackdown the US and lawmakers in other Western nations have labeled a “genocide.” China denies the allegations. Bachelet was expected to visit the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on a six-day tour. The US
SUBTLE? While Biden said the US policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan had not changed, the group targeted China and Russia without naming them Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US yesterday warned against attempts to “change the status quo by force,” as concerns grow about whether China could invade Taiwan. The issue of Taiwan loomed over a leadership meeting in Tokyo of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) nations — the US, Japan, Australia and India — who stressed their determination to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China, although Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was not targeting any one country. The four leaders said in a joint statement issued after their talks