Taiwan: Reaffirming Taiwan’s press freedom

Taiwan’s election result on January 11 delivered stronger hopes for press freedom and media independence in the country after incumbent Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected as President of Taiwan. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said the outcome was encouraging for the preservation of liberal democratic ideals and core human rights, including freedom of the press in Taiwan and for Asia.

Local residents line up to vote in the Taiwan election Credit: Sam Yeh / AFP

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected for a second four-year term, taking 57% of 14.3 million valid ballots. The election saw a high 75% turnout, especially among young voters, with the re-election pegged as a backlash against conservative attempts to roll back progressive reforms in the country.

The election result follows months of mass protests in Hong Kong, exposing the potential repercussions of Beijing’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ formula for ‘unification’. On January 1, 2019, PRC State Chairman Xi Jinping declared that Taiwan “must and will be” unified into the PRC and warned that Beijing “reserves the option of taking all necessary measures” against foreign forces that may interfere with such an annexation. 

The ongoing curtailment of the fundamentals of free speech and press freedom since 2013 under Xi Xinping has created an increasingly restrictive media in Mainland China. Despite Article 35 of its Constitution stating that “citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”, at least 48 journalists remained in prison in China at the end of 2019.

In a post-election news conference, Tsai stated, “We hope that the Beijing authorities can understand that a democratic Taiwan with a government chosen by the people will not give in to threats and intimidation”.

President Tsai stated her administration was willing to engage in constructive relations with Beijing on the foundation of four principles, namely, “peace, parity, democracy and dialogue”. She stressed that “democracy” means that “the future of Taiwan must be decided by Taiwan’s 23 million people.”

The IFJ said: ”The IFJ supports the principles of human rights and press freedom and we welcome any moves by a democratically-elected government to actively support a transparent and democratic process. Strong democratic principles are essential for the free press as well as journalists physical and economic safety.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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