Alexa

Taiwan denies radio crackdown targets critics of ECFA with China

Taiwan denies radio crackdown targets critics of ECFA with China

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The government denied that a campaign to stamp out commercials for illegal medicine by underground radio stations was designed to stifle criticism of its plans for an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China, reports said Monday.
Many of the radio stations also air programs sympathetic to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which strongly objects to the ECFA project.
An unnamed ruling camp politician said the crackdown on ads for illegal medicine might help the government spread its message in favor of the trade accord, the Chinese-language Liberty Times daily reported Monday.
However, the official in charge of the campaign, Minister without Portfolio Chang Jin-fu, said the government bore the responsibility of defending public health. The crackdown on the ads did not have any political motives and legal broadcasters had nothing to fear, he said.
DPP lawmaker Pan Men-an said the government was trying to reduce alternative opinions and to stifle broadcasting channels which did not share its position on ECFA. Blaming the problem of illegal and dangerous medicine on radio stations was overblown, he said.
President Ma Ying-jeou accused the illegal broadcasters of spreading numerous rumors about his administration right from when he took office almost two years ago, the Liberty Times said. Ma said the radio stations unfairly spread the message that he would allow the import of more Chinese farm products once ECFA was signed.
Premier Wu Den-yih asked for a weekly report from the taskforce handling the crackdown, including the number of stations closed down and the number of people charged, the paper said.
The government hopes cross-straits negotiators can sign ECFA in June at the latest, while the DPP wants a referendum on the issue. Talks are on the way to organize a televised debate between Ma and DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen before the end of the month.
The DPP opposes the ECFA plans because the accord will endanger Taiwan’s sovereignty and its economy, while the government says it will raise the competitiveness of Taiwanese products and pave the way for free trade agreements with other nations.