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Taiwan a new outpost for foreign media reporting on China

The communist country's hard-line approach to journalism ramps up reporting from Taiwan

Photographer in Taiwan (Getty Images)

Photographer in Taiwan (Getty Images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has over the past year or so witnessed an increased presence of international media outlets and is emerging as a major base for foreign journalists who are prohibited from covering affairs in China without interference.

In an interview with Voice of America, Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson, now based in Taiwan, shared his predicament of reporting in China between 2007 and 2016. He failed to have his credentials renewed following his report on two Swedish citizens detained in China.

“Journalists holding a media visa in China will be spied on and tracked, and risk putting those interviewed in danger,” he said. In contrast, the Taiwan government is more than willing to provide assistance, and media workers won’t have their visa revoked for “reporting in the wrong direction,” he added.

Beijing expelled a slew of international journalists in March last year as tensions with the U.S. escalated. Taiwan was quick to offer help and cut red tape for the “outcasts” who would then move to the country.

An additional 34 foreign reporters were posted in Taiwan in 2020, including those from the U.S., U.K, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and France. As of Dec. 25, there were 124 international reporters from 71 media outlets registered in Taiwan, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While Taiwan boasts a freer media environment, challenges remain for covering events in China from the country. It’s harder to secure trust from people across the strait via phone interviews, and the lack of on-site observation also proves a hurdle to paint a real picture of life for Chinese people, Voice of America quoted an anonymous American journalist as saying.

Read more: Expelled US journalists to relocate from China to Taiwan