RSF to issue report on China's global media influence campaign

02/25/2019 06:34 PM
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Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) The global press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders announced on Monday that it will soon release a report to raise awareness of Beijing's ongoing campaign to influence world media in forging a positive image of China.

Cedric Alviani, the director of Reporters Without Borders's East Asia (Taipei) bureau, said at a press conference that the report, to be released in French, English and Chinese on March 25, will detail Beijing's growing influence in the world media in the past decade.

Alviani said the Chinese campaign got its start after the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, when the Chinese regime found that international media tended to hold an unfriendly view of the country's autocratic regime.

Over the years, China has bought stakes in many international media outlets, including Chinese-language media, to try to increase its influence on the world stage and shape public opinion that is more favorable to China.

Those efforts have paid off, Alviani said, as many international media and especially Chinese-language media have gradually changed their anti-China rhetoric into more pro-China stances.

A large chunk of China's media acquisitions have gone unnoticed, and Alviani said his organization is compiling a complete list of such incidents and putting them into a single report in the hope of getting the world to wake up to Beijing's campaign.

"With the report, we expect we can stir up the interest of the whole world on how China is actively penetrating the media around the world," he said.

Alviani talked about the report during the press event held to mark the two-year anniversary of the Reporters Without Borders East Asia Office in Taipei.

The organization opened its first Asia bureau in Taipei on April 1, 2017, and it mainly covers China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Mongolia, according to the Paris-headquartered group, also known by its French name Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).

Almost two years later, Alviani said he believes the RSF made a wise choice in opening the office in Taiwan. "We are glad we did it," he said.

Taiwan has the best press freedom in Asia, with its ranking in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by RSF moving up three notches to 42nd place in 2018, he said.

Alviani contended, however, that Taiwan's media environment still had a lot of room for improvement.

Though Taiwanese media are free from direct interference from the government, they still face challenges from economic and political powers, he said.

He also lamented the lack of newcomers in Taiwanese media circles recently, saying new entrants were important for promoting press freedom.

Alviani recommended that Taiwan's government improve the local media environment by investing in building a stronger and bigger public media group or offering more incentives to encourage the founding of new private media.

During Monday's press event, the RSF also signed MOUs with the Association of Journalists of Taiwan and Taiwan Media Watch to work closely with them to promote media freedom locally.

(By Joseph Yeh)


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