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Foreign media group calls for 'more open' Taiwan government

04/03/2024 08:13 PM
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Taiwan Foreign Correspondents' Club President Thompson Chau (center). CNA photo April 2, 2024
Taiwan Foreign Correspondents' Club President Thompson Chau (center). CNA photo April 2, 2024

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) The president of the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents' Club (TFCC) Thompson Chau (周浩霖) on Tuesday urged Taiwan's government to turn the country into a media "hub" by being "more open" and easing restrictions on foreign journalists.

Chau, who currently covers Taiwanese politics and defense issues for Nikkei Asia, made the appeal at a forum featuring local and foreign journalists who shared their observations on Taiwan's political scene following the presidential and legislative elections in January.

At the event, co-hosted by TFCC and the Graduate Institute of Journalism of National Taiwan University, Chau suggested that the government "ease the red tape" for foreign media workers who want to be based in Taiwan or want to continue living in Taiwan to work.

He was thinking particularly of "freelancers who may not have a newsroom to officially support them in letters," he said, referring to the documents required of media workers to obtain press credentials often needed for access to government press conferences or events.

"Easing [the rules] and allowing them to work with less hassle and trouble will go a long way in retaining and attracting media talents in Taiwan," he said.

According to Chau, many foreign correspondents have relocated to Taiwan after being driven out of China or Hong Kong and they are "basically in exile in Taipei."

He added that Taiwan's government should think about how it could "transform Taipei from a shelter for journalist refugees into a hub that really attracts correspondents and media practitioners."

He was likely alluding to the expulsion of U.S. and other Western journalists from China in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the exodus of media outlets from Hong Kong following Beijing's growing encroachment on the city's autonomy and civil liberties.

Many of those journalists have since relocated to South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

U.K. life peer Baroness D'Souza, meanwhile, told the event virtually that President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who takes office in May, would have greater difficulty in getting "divisive issues, such as defense spending and strategy" through the Legislature, given his party loss of a majority.

At the same time, D'Souza, who served as Lord Speaker in the House of Lords from 2011 to 2016, expressed concern over Beijing's acts of intimidation against Taiwan, urging the U.K. government to "make it abundantly clear that we will take action" against China's "gray zone" attacks.

The TFCC has about 100 members, about half of whom are correspondents for foreign news organizations, along with associate members from local media outlets, trade offices, and the business community, the group says on its website.

(By Teng Pei-ju)


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