Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

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 21 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

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."

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