Taiwan Shaken by Concerns Over Chinese Influence in Media, Press Freedom

A report alleging that some Taiwanese media outlets receive instructions from Chinese officials has been countered with a libel lawsuit.

The Diplomat
Date: July 27, 2019
By: Nick Aspinwall

Want Want China Times, a Taiwanese media group long rumored to be closely linked to Beijing, is

Image Credit: Presidential Office, Republic of China (Taiwan)

suing the Financial Times for libel over a report alleging Want Want-owned media outlets take daily editorial orders from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

Financial Times reporter Kathrin Hille spoke to journalists with Want Want’s China Times and CtiTV, one of whom said officials from the Taiwan Affairs Office “call every day” for advice on shaping coverage. Want Want has called the report “fake news” and is suing Financial Times, Hille, and Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), which reported on Hille’s story.

The move follows months of speculation that Want Want is closely tied to the Chinese government. Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC), which is analogous to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, has fined Want Want media outlets on several occasions for inaccurate or unbalanced coverage.

An April report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily also alleged that one of Want Want’s companies received direct subsidies from Chinese authorities. Want Want threatened to sue Apple Daily at the time and denied that the funding influences its media outlets – the company itself manufactures snack foods and drinks for the Chinese and Taiwanese markets. However, Want Want’s CEO, Tsai Eng-meng, has said in the past that “unification will happen sooner or later” and has supported Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu, the Kaohsiung mayor who favors closer ties with China. Han is challenging incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in next January’s presidential election.    [FULL  STORY]

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