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Reciprocity key to Chinese satellite TV: minister

Reciprocity key to Chinese satellite TV: minister

Taipei, April 29 (CNA) The issue of whether to grant local landing rights to Chinese satellite TV channels will be considered only if China agrees to offer Taiwanese counterparts similar treatment on a reciprocal basis, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said Monday. Lung made the remarks on the sidelines of a Legislative Yuan committee hearing after former Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung suggested a day earlier that Taiwan consider introducing international news programs broadcast by Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV and Beijing's state-run China Central Television (CCTV) satellite channels to offer local viewers more choice. Chiang, Taiwan's former top negotiator with China, said at a seminar marking the 20th anniversary of the cross-Taiwan Strait "Koo-Wang Talks" the previous day that he had proposed to President Ma Ying-jeou that Phoenix and CCTV satellite news channels be granted landing rights to help enhance local TV audience's exposure to international news events and distract their attention away from gossip news offered by local TV channels. Chiang's suggestion immediately drew a backlash in local society, with critics saying that under China's censorship, CCTV news programs reflect only Chinese authorities-sanctioned views or opinions and would not cater to the tastes of TV viewers used to Taiwan's democratic and open society. Phoenix TV is one of the few privately owned broadcasting companies allowed to broadcast news in China. Asked about her views on Chiang's proposal, Lung said the issue should be assessed in the context of Taiwan's television industry development. "First and foremost, the Chinese authorities should be willing to grant landing rights to our TV channels; otherwise, we have no basis to talk about it," Lung said, adding that reciprocity is vital in addressing relevant issues. Responding to concerns about CCTV's possibly biased news coverage, Lung said this is not the most important issue on the table. "In an open society like Taiwan, we do not need to worry about thoughts or advocacies from a closed society like that of China. In fact, it should be vice versa," Lung said, adding that China's authoritarian thought has little appeal for local people. Noting that Taiwan has come a long way in democratic development, Lung said local citizens have won wide international recognition for their firm support for democratic ethics and way of life. "I'm fully confident of our people's faith in democracy and am not concerned about the possibility that our people might be tempted by China's authoritarian ideology," Lung added. The minister further said that if China wants to talk about landing rights for its TV channels, it should first consider what access it plans to offer Taiwan's TV stations. Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi also said on the sidelines of a tea party marking the "Koo-Wang Talks" 20th anniversary that Chiang's proposal only reflects his personal views. Wang, the country's top China policy planner, further said he believes Chiang's proposal mainly represents his efforts to push for the upgrading of quality of local TV programs. The "Koo-Wang Talks" refer to a series of negotiations between the late SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Daohan, the late president of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), in Singapore that began in April 1993. The talks paved the way for the resumption of cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges after the end of Chinese civil war in the late 1940s. (By Hsu Hui, Scarlett Chai and Sofia Wu)