Taiwan media and sovereignty in the firing line under China security law

 The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) strongly oppose the draft  National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China recently announced by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress. ATJ and IFJ said if revisions are not made to the law, Taiwan’s existing standards of news freedom and freedom of expression would be under considerable threat.

On June 3, 2015, ATJ declared its opposition to the act stating that Article 11 of the law “disregards the fact that Taiwan is a democratic and independent state whose sovereignty does not overlap with the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC).”

ATJ added: “China’s National Security Law is a domestic law of the PRC and therefore, the citizens of another state should not bear a “shared obligation” to maintain the PRC’s “national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

According to Article 11 of the draft law: “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China cannot be divided. Maintenance of national sovereignty and territorial integrity is a shared obligation of all the Chinese people, including compatriots from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.”

The ATJ calls on the PRC’s National People’s Congress to formally recognise that the two sides of the Taiwan Straits are governed by two distinct states whose sovereignty, legal jurisdictions and “obligations” do not overlap and demands the deletion of this article.

Another article in contention is Article 81 which states that any violation of the law “by failing to perform national security obligations or engaging in activities endangering national security, shall be investigated for legal responsibility according to law.”

The ATJ said Article 81 would subject Taiwanese citizens who enter China to investigation and potential prosecution by PRC authorities. “These laws will place Taiwan news workers into a high risk group if this law is enacted,” it said.

The IFJ shares the ATJ’s concerns and has called on the National People’s Congress to respect Taiwan’s sovereignty as a democratic and independent state and said: “In its current form, this law will seriously impinge on the civil and political rights of the Taiwan people, Taiwan Journalists and their freedom of expression.”

The IFJ has made several submissions to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee already. See the full submission and IFJ recommendations here.

The IFJ and the ATJ urge Taiwan’s Ma Ying government to recognise its obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights to take the necessary steps to protect the civil and political rights of all residents in Taiwan, most notably the rights of freedom of expression and news freedom listed in Article 19.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific at ifj@ifj-asia.org 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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