ROC office rebuts Sound of Hope charges on broadcasting issue

Washington, July 2 (CNA) The Republic of China's representative office in the United States on Tuesday described as "inaccurate" a radio network's claim that the office has failed to convey to its home government congressional concerns over a shortwave broadcasting issue. The Falun Gong-affiliated Sound of Hope Radio Network said recently that several U.S. Congress members have expressed concerns about Radio Taiwan International's decision to demolish RTI broadcasting towers in southern Taiwan. The towers have been used in part to send shortwave radio signals to China, including programming that the Falun Gong contracts Radio Taiwan International (RTI) to broadcast, and the group fears that without the towers its exposure in China will be limited. The Sound of Hope charged that Taiwan's representative office, under the leadership of King Pu-tsung, did not seem to have conveyed the congressional concerns to President Ma Ying-jeou or forwarded letters addressed to him on the issue by American lawmakers. "The allegations are not true," the ROC representative office said in a statement. The office has dealt with the issue promptly and faithfully and has conveyed the congressmen's concerns to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other related government agencies, the statement said. On June 21, ROC Deputy Representative to the U.S. Jacob Chang also met with Sound of Hope senior executives to listen to their appeals and convened to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs their appeals the same day, the statement said. "It's extremely regrettable that Sound of Hope has run reports without verification," King said in the statement. San Francisco-based Sound of Hope was founded by Falun Gong supporters in 2003. It began leasing time on Radio Taiwan International's shortwave radio network in 2004 to broadcast programs to China. Much of the programming has been broadcast via RTI towers in Tainan and in Huwei, Yunlin County, but the Tainan towers were torn down in June and work on the Huwei site is expected to start in the second half of the year.
A resolution passed by Taiwan's Legislature has demanded that the towers on the two sites be completely torn down by the end of 2013. Arrangements have been made for Sound of Hope Radio programs to be broadcast to China in the future via RTI's Danshui and Baozhong facilities, the statement said. The Taiwanese broadcaster has given Sound of Hope assurances that the move will not affect the number of hours it can broadcast through RTI facilities and the services it receives, the statement said. RTI has already briefed U.S. congressional members through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwan's representative office in Washington, D.C. on its decision-making process and handling of the case, the statement added. According to the office, the towers' removal was based on valid reasons and had been planned for a long time. Residents in the vicinity of the Tainan towers have long complained about electromagnetic wave interference and repeatedly pushed for their relocation, and the Huwei towers are being removed to make way for a special high-speed rail zone, the statement said. The decision to demolish the Tainan towers was made in 2004 when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was still in power and the decision to phase out the Huwei station was made in 2011, it said. DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei, who represents a Tainan constituency, has on many occasions pushed for early removal of the towers to facilitate the city's development, according to the statement. It further said the Tainan station was torn down in late June ahead of schedule mainly because the site was part of a river cleaning and flood-prevention project. (By Tony Liao and Sofia Wu)