Tuesday, October 20, 2009

‘Liberty Times’ not part of media delegation to Beijing

On Oct. 14, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported the following:

High-ranking executives of Taiwan’s media outlets will visit China from Oct. 28 through Nov. 11 for discussions on ways and means of enhancing cross-strait media cooperation, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Vice Secretary General Ma Shao-chang said on Wednesday.

Headed by SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, the 20-member group will visit Beijing and Shanxi Province to exchange views on journalistic exchanges with their Chinese counterparts and Chinese officials in charge of the media.

Currently, Taiwan and China allow correspondents from their major media outlets to remain on assignment on the other side for a maximum of three months on a rotating basis.

However, there have been calls for a “normalization” of journalistic exchanges between Taiwan and China through the reciprocal establishment of media branches or offices on each side. The Taiwan media delegation to China will include executives and senior journalists from SET TV, Formosa TV and the Liberty Times, which in the past were deemed as having embraced a pro-Taiwan independence stance.

After asking around, senior management sources at the Liberty Times — which is one floor above that of its sister newspaper, the Taipei Times, where I work — informed me that the Liberty Times will not be part of such a delegation. It appears that the Chinese version of the same CNA report read that the SEF had invited top Liberty Times executives to be part of the delegation, an invitation that the Liberty Times turned down. As such, the passage in the English version of the report, that “The Taiwan media delegation to China will include executives and senior journalists from SET TV, Formosa TV and the Liberty Times,” is wrong.

I have also learned from a credible source at the Liberty Times that contrary to what I had been told, the Liberty Times does not have a directive barring its reporters from going to China to cover major events. In at least one instance, however, China has refused to grant a visa to a Liberty Times reporter while showing a willingness to grant one to another reporter who was “acceptable” to the Chinese authorities.

The difference is not insubstantial, as it disputes the belief that management at the Liberty Times forbids its reporters from going to China.


I have now learned that the Apple Daily, which had also been invited by the SEF to be part of the delegation, is not welcome in China. So much for cross-strait media liberalization the very subject of the meeting in Beijing later this month!


Anonymous said...

Your post is quite related in some ways, to the new ranking from RSF...
People should not be surprised...

J. Michael said...


Indeed. Luckily for us at the Taipei Times, we're enough under the radar to have been left relatively alone. In other words, we've seen no difference in what we're allowed to say or report on — or have access to. Government officials limited themselves to polite responses, published in our pages, when they disagreed with something we'd printed. As long as this continues, we should be ok.

Steve said...

So to get this straight, the Chinese *invited* representatives of the Apple daily, but then denied them entry visas?