The Olympics and ROC Press Freedom

[posted by K.Y. Tsang, Ph.D.]

I am surprised that the press has not picked up on a subtle development concerning freedom of press:

Ma Ying-Jeou has requested Beijing to force the press – even though it is Communist-controlled – to use the term “Chinese Taipei” instead of “Taipei, China”. In doing so, he legitimizes Communist Party control of the press.

He should have demanded that the Communists honour their promise not to interfere with the press, and that the press be able to freely call the team from Taiwan whatever they want: terms from “Taiwan Province, PRC” (or even “Ma’s puppet team”) to “Republic of China” (or even “Republic of Taiwan”). Then he should have asked the Central Daily News to use the term “ROC” and demanded its circulation online in mainland China, with the DPP getting the cue too. That would lead either to the term “ROC” being shown in mainland China, and thus civic openness, or to Beijing’s true nature being more concretely exposed by journalists who would be happy to cover because their sacred press freedom is at stake.

This would be much more meaningful than childishly arguing between “Chinese Taipei” and “Taipei, China”, either of which is worth only a “so what”: few people give a hoot between the two.

Instead, Ma has unwittingly placed himself into a trap: imagine the next Olympics being held in Taipei in 8 or 12 years. If Beijing reciprocates and asks Taipei to force the press to refer to the Beijing team using the term “China”, should I, were I a journalist in Taiwan, lose the freedom to use the terms “mainland China team” or “communist China team”? Is Ma – or his successor – prepared to control the press? It’s absolutely insane that the government should tell me what term to use.

Unfortunately, I think Ma has lost a good opportunity to exercise his leadership – if it exists – in combating one-party censorship.

Dr. K.Y. Tsang (Ph.D. 1986, University of California, Berkeley) has taught physics at Auburn University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He continues research in chaos theory.


3 responses to “The Olympics and ROC Press Freedom

  1. Ma Ying-Jeou is now even anti-press-freedom (follow link here)!


  2. Now I wonder: did Ma Ying-Jeou come down the slippery slope from how he dealt with Beijing, or did he not have much respect for press freedom to begin with?


  3. Pingback: Taiwan Regressing? « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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