Confronting Bodies: Taiwanese Government
Date of Action: Jan. 1, 1994
Specific Location: Taiwan
Description of Artwork: Any political journalist writing for any Taiwanese publication.
Description of Incident: Historically it has been illegal in Taiwan for any press to print articles or editorials questioning the policies or actions of the Taiwanese government, or which is representative of oppositional party, all of which were also considered illegal. However, "as Taiwan has prospered in recent years its people have demanded a greater voice in government." "On January 1, the government opened the door to new publishing licenses and subsequently approved fifty-seven new newspapers. As of late June, twenty-three we already on the stands. It also permitted papers to exceed their previous twelve page limit, and immediately they doubled in size." "Reporters on the country's mainstream dailies who wrote secretly for the opposition press can now criticize the government in the bylined stories in their own papers, and can go directly to official sources, who feel more comfortable about granting interviews. Coverage of antigovernment demonstrations has become routine, and readers accustomed to a virtual blackout on news from mainland China now receive detailed reports on its affairs. More space has also meant the introduction of letters-to-the-editor sections and more in-depth pieces.
Results of Incident: Two taboos remain: "advocating independence (the government considers Taiwan a province of mainland China, and the Kuomintang hopes to return there victoriously some day) and advocating communism. Reporters can quote someone advocating the right to express an opinion on independence, but that's as far as they can go. A law forbidding publication of anything that 'commits or instigates others to commit sedition or treason' remains in full force, and the government used it to temporarily suspend the licenses of eight magazines between January and June. One opposition publisher has had licenses suspended thirty times."
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
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