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Freedom House Condemns China Visa Refusal to Taiwanese Journalists
Freedom House urges the Chinese government to issue visas to Taiwanese reporters so far denied entry, preventing them from covering cross-strait meetings occurring this week in China.
The two journalists from Taiwan’s Apple Daily and Radio Free Asia were excluded from a delegation of over 80 reporters accompanying Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi on his visit to China, scheduled for February 11-14. Wang is scheduled to meet with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun. The meeting marks the first contact between ministers of the two governments, which do not formally recognize each other. One of the anticipated agenda items is greater cross-strait media exchanges.
“The Chinese government’s refusal to grant access to these journalists reflects two important trends—the Communist Party's expansion of its tactics for influencing media from Hong Kong to Taiwan, and the government’s use of visa denials as a way to punish overseas news outlets for critical coverage,” said Sarah Cook, senior research analyst at Freedom House.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement expressing regret about the denial of visas and urging Beijing to respect freedom of the press.
This is not the first time the Chinese government targeted reporters from Apple Daily, founded by a Hong Kong business tycoon critical of the ruling Communist Party. Several of its Hong Kong reporters failed to obtain permission to cover a major sporting event in 2010; in 2008, one was turned back upon arrival in Beijing to report on the Olympics. Its Hong Kong edition has also suffered from ad boycotts by tycoons close to Beijing.
An October report by Cook and published by the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance highlighted these trends as part of a broader analysis of how the Communist Party’s censorship increasingly affects news outlets outside China.
China is rated Not Free and Taiwan is rated Free in the 2013 Freedom of the Press report.
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