Taiwan ranked 43rd in this year’s World Press Freedom Index published yesterday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), down one notch from the previous year.
Despite the regression, Taiwan is one of just four countries in the Asia-Pacific region to fall in the “good” and “fairly good” categories of the index, following New Zealand (9th), Australia (26th) and South Korea (42nd).
In its analysis on press freedom in Taiwan, the RSF said that political interference “is rare and less tolerated, but Taiwan’s journalists are suffering from a very polarized media environment dominated by sensationalism and the pursuit of profit.”
“Although President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said she wants to continue developing press freedom in Taiwan, few concrete measures have been taken to improve journalistic editorial independence and encourage the media to raise the quality of public debate,” RSF said.
It said that Beijing is exploiting this weakness by putting pressure on Taiwanese media owners, who often have business interests in China.
“Beijing is also suspected of orchestrating online disinformation campaigns — a threat that could lead to questionable retaliatory measures by Taiwan, such as refusing visas to Chinese journalists regarded as hostile,” the RSF said.
China ranked 177th, as it “never stops enhancing its system of information hyper-control and persecution of dissident journalists and bloggers,” RSF East Asia Bureau director Cedric Alviani said.
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