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Taiwan rated only 'open' Asian country for 4th straight year

Taiwan listed as only country in Asia with open civic space in 2023

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(Civicus screenshot)

(Civicus screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — For the fourth year in a row, Taiwan is the only country in Asia with an open civic space, while Myanmar, Hong Kong, and Afghanistan were downgraded, according to a report by the human rights organization Civicus.

In its report "People Power Under Attack 2022," Civicus Monitor wrote that 2022 saw a "serious decline in civic space," resulting in more people living in countries with a closed civic space than ever. It estimated 28% of the people in the world, approximately two billion, are "subject to extreme levels of repression."

In the 26 countries and territories listed in the Asia region, Taiwan is again the only country rated as truly open. The report said as epidemic prevention restrictions were lifted, "efforts to stifle dissent and crack down on civil society and social movements remained prevalent" and, in some nations, even escalated.

The report assesses civic space from the perspectives of the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression. Each country is rated as falling into one of five categories: “open,” “narrowed,” “obstructed,” “repressed,” or “closed.”

In the Asia Pacific, the number of countries and regions rated as closed rose to seven, with China, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam being joined by Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and Myanmar. Eight countries were listed as repressed, including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The seven countries in the obstructed category were Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste. Three countries, Japan, Mongolia, and South Korea, were rated as having their civic space narrowed.

In addition, there are no countries listed in Central or Western Asia as open. This leaves Taiwan as the sole country in all of Asia deemed to have an open civic space for the fourth year in a row.