Taiwan slipped one place to 51st out of the world’s 180 countries in this year’s Press Freedom Index, released on Thursday by Reporters Without Borders.
The nation was judged to have the fifth-freest press in the Asia-Pacific region, behind New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and Tonga.
Over the past decade, Taiwan’s freedom of the press appears to have decreased gradually but steadily, according to the organization’s rankings.
In 2007, Taiwan was judged to have the 32nd-freest press globally, while it was 47th in 2013 and 50th last year.
Released in Washington, the report continues to paint “a grim picture of the future of press freedom in Asia,” Radio Free Asia president Libby Liu (劉仚) said.
Reporters Without Borders said that threats to journalists and netizens and censorship issues continued to hurt media environments in Asia.
Liu said the seriousness of the situation was evidenced in areas once considered the few bright spots in the region.
“In Hong Kong, for example, authorities used the ‘Umbrella movement’ demonstrations as an excuse to escalate their efforts to rein in media freedoms, including attacks on and firings of editors and reporters critical of the city’s and mainland China’s leadership,” Liu said.
“Our journalists on the ground in Myanmar and Cambodia continue to experience and witness both countries struggling with free press issues, including the use of civil and criminal courts as a means to intimidate journalists with the threat of prosecution,” Liu added.
The survey ranked North Korea second to last at 179 of the 180 countries, with China at 176, Vietnam at 175 and Laos at 171.
China and Vietnam were cited among the worst press freedom offenders, with both countries arresting bloggers and journalists.
In China, these included famous journalist Gao Yu (高玉), who was forced to make a televised “confession”; cyberdissident Xu Zhiyong (許志永); and leading Uighur blogger and economics professor Ilham Tohti.
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