As Hong Kong tightens its grasp on media, China assaults Taiwan News Channel

Following the June resignation of Hong Kong’s democratically elected Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, Beijing is cracking down hard on the city’s grassroots democracy movement and local media. In addition to restricting freedom of speech and press, the Communist regime has openly accused elected officials of threatening national security and shaking up social order.

This week, Taiwan-based Taiwan News Channel (TNC) was raided by Chinese security forces for having a pro-independence correspondent and broadcasting news produced by TNC’s sister station, the Taiwan-based news channel TNN. Instead of cutting back, the department hired as replacements the same reporters, who, with Beijing’s intervention, now claim to have the same “objective” coverage of the mainland as TNN’s reporters.

Taiwan-based TNC has been in an ongoing fight with Taiwan News Channel since it began reporting in 2011. Almost immediately, Beijing labeled TNC as Taiwanese media and started pressuring the station not to report or broadcast its broadcasts, stating that the Chinese government is not “an overseas broadcaster” and that their reporting did not comply with the standards of journalism. In 2016, the U.S. State Department had referred the whole episode to Taiwan’s government, saying that “relevant departments” of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “firmly oppose Beijing’s pressure.” China stepped up the pressure even further earlier this year by reportedly offering a 2.8 million U.S. dollar bribe to TNC’s owner, Kou Yao, known for his front-facing media commentaries against Chinese autocracy.

In an interview with Global Times, a Communist Party-owned tabloid, Kou Yao said he was “not looking for revenge” in the raid and “wanted to restore normality to the news channels’ normal business.” China’s attitude towards Taiwan News Channel, he added, is of a “Sinophobia.” TNC is not the only Taipei-based media outlet targeted in recent years. In February, the Fu Chi Chi Commercial radio station, a leftist radio station broadcasting from the U.S. territory of Saipan, was ordered to cut down on its Taiwanese content, and sign non-disclosure agreements. Two years earlier, international news company Asia TV Media was raided by Taiwanese security forces.

In terms of Washington’s relationship with China, U.S. President Donald Trump has directed both diplomacy and trade wars to try and clamp down on the growing trade imbalance between the two superpowers. In July, a clash between the U.S. and China over trade restrictions saw the dollar tumble against the Chinese currency and expose some of the country’s bets on the dollar. Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, immediately blamed the “violent behavior” of the U.S. and U.S. officials for their country’s rising trade war with China. Last week, the U.S. government issued a travel warning for Taiwan over a possible travel advisory, saying that “Taiwan lacks any safety standards in regard to transportation safety and security.”

Read the full story at The Diplomat.


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