Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Taiwan
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||February 1999|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Taiwan, February 1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5658823.html [accessed 31 July 2015]|
As of December 31, 1998
Having abandoned authoritarian rule in the late 1980s, Taiwan's Nationalist Chinese government now presides over one of the freest presses in Asia. With a population of just under 22 million, Taiwan is home to more than 300 newspapers, four television networks, and 74 radio stations competing in a vibrant marketplace that stands in marked contrast to China's state-controlled media.
During freewheeling local elections at the end of the year, there was widespread coverage of alleged sex scandals involving several candidates, as the question of character came to the fore in a society largely free of rancorous ideological divisions.
Journalists still confront tough criminal libel statutes, however, but some legislators have called for statutory reforms to bring Taiwan in line with practices in other democracies in which libel is treated as a civil matter. Meanwhile, an appeal by the plaintiff seeking to overturn the 1997 acquittal of Ying Chan, a U.S. reporter, and Shieh Chung-liang, a Taiwanese reporter, both recipients of CPJ's 1997 International Press Freedom Award, is still pending in the high-profile criminal libel case brought by the ruling Kuomintang party.
Press freedom remains one of the biggest issues to be reconciled if Taiwan and China are to reunite under the "One Country, Two Systems" formula being applied in Hong Kong. In a dramatic demonstration of Taiwan's commitment to democracy and its willingness to challenge Beijing on the issue, President Lee Teng-hui met in late December in Taipei with Wei Jingsheng, a writer and perhaps China's most famous exiled dissident. "Democracy is the trend of the times, freedom is what people hope," Lee told Wei, according to the president's office. "They are unstoppable. Democracy and freedom are the only opportunity for the long-term developments of any country and society."