Censorship in Taiwan

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Censorship in Taiwan was greatly relaxed when the state moved away from authoritarianism in 1987. Since then, the media has generally been allowed to broadcast political opposition. Today, the focus of censorship is slander and libel, cross-Strait relations, and national security.

History[edit]

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, in 1941 the Second Volume of the book "Inside Asia", by John Gunther, was prohibited and censored by the Republic of China (based in Chongqing, since portions of the Second Volume reported on certain things in Northwestern China which Chinese Muslims were doing.[1]

In much of the martial law period of the Republic of China in Taiwan (1948–1987), the Kuomintang, as an authoritarian state, exercised strict control of the media. Parties other than the Kuomintang, Chinese Youth Party and China Democratic Socialist Party, were banned and media advocating either democracy or Taiwan independence was banned. Li Ao, a famous political activist in Taiwan, nationalist, and intellectual, had over 96 books banned from sale. Writer Bo Yang was jailed for eight years for his translation of the cartoon Popeye because the translation was interpreted as a criticism of leader Chiang Kai-shek. Taiwanese-language media was also banned, and children who spoke Taiwanese in school were physically punished. The revision of Criminal Acts against seditious speech in 1992 ended the persecution to political opponents.

Post-democratisation[edit]

Censorship laws remain in place as applicable to the Taiwan Area, but are not enforced with the former rigour. The main areas of censorship, or alleged censorship, occur in the realms of politics, cross-Strait relations, and national security. The principal organs of censorship are the National Communications Commission (NCC) and the Government Information Office (GIO). The formerly murky lines of control exercised by the government over the media through party-ownership of media assets during the Kuomintang era have now been resolved by the progressive disbursement of such assets by the Kuomintang under sustained pressure from the Democratic Progressive Party.

Political censorship[edit]

Laws governing elections and politics restrict the publication and broadcasting of political material. For example, in the local elections of 2005, CDs with videos ridiculing candidates were confiscated in accordance to the Election and Recall Act. Laws prohibiting the promotion of Communism, also remain active. However, the contemporary relevance of those laws have been questioned, with even a Taiwan Communist Party obtaining registration as a political party in recent years.

More covert moves have also been made by the government to censor unfavourable media. In 2006, the government under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) refused to renew the broadcasting licenses of certain television channels suggesting that the broadcasters were not in compliance with broadcasting standards. However, this move became controversial because some of the channels who failed their broadcast license renewal have a reputation to favour the opposition Kuomintang in their programming. Also, "On March 20, 2006, security police went to the Taipei offices of Next Magazine and to its printers and seized copies of the next day’s issue, saying it 'threatened national security.' Some 160,000 copies were seized, but the magazine was still on sale at news-stands because the staff had secretly managed to print more copies elsewhere."

Cross Strait relations[edit]

The use of overt and covert censorship in relation to mainland China and the People's Republic of China is an active area of controversy. For example, satellite channels perceived to adopt a pro-PRC or pro-unification editorial stance, such as Phoenix TV, were refused landing rights in Taiwan by the DPP-controlled government. Similarly, correspondent offices representing the PRC government-controlled Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily were closed by the DPP-controlled government. These policies were reversed after the election of the Kuomintang in 2008.

Internet censorship[edit]

According to a survey conducted by Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry, an NGO, 81.8% of households had access to the Internet at the end of 2011.[2]

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the authorities generally respect these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combine to protect freedom of speech and press. There are no official restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the authorities monitor e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight.

Future of censorship[edit]

The authority for censorship in Taiwan since 2006 is the National Communications Commission (NCC).[3] On 26 June 2006 news reports said that a review by the Council of Grand Justices of the ROC found that part of the National Communications Commission Organization Act (e.g. Article 4) is unconstitutional, and that after 31 December 2008 the law provision is invalid.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The China Monthly Review. 96-97. J.W. Powell. 1941. p. 379. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Taiwan", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 22 March 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  3. ^ "National Communications Commission Organization Act", Presidential Announcement, Gazette of the Office of the President No. 6658, November 9, 2005. Archived 15 August 2007.
  4. ^ "Experimenting Independent Commissions in Taiwan's Civil Administrative Law System: Perils and Prospects", Jiunn-rong Yeh, Workshop on Comparative Administrative Law, Yale Law School, 8 May 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2013.

External links[edit]

  • "Taiwan", Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House.
Reporters Without Borders Annual Reports on Taiwan
International Freedom of Expression Exchange