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Taiwan bars mainland China reporter for spreading ‘fake news’

/ 04:28 PM June 28, 2018

Taiwan authorities have barred a reporter for a television network in China from working on the island, accusing him of spreading “fake news” at a time of heightened cross-strait tensions.

It is the first time a mainland Chinese reporter has been banned from the island for “creating cross-strait conflict,” according to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), which handles official affairs with China.

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It said the decision was due to multiple incidents in which Ye Qinglin, from Southeast Television in China’s Fujian province, breached rules governing Chinese media in Taiwan.

The rules say that Chinese press should stick to a pre-approved plan and follow the principles of fair and objective reporting.

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Ye had regularly been sent to Taiwan on assignment for the past 10 years but his latest application to re-enter had been rejected, the MAC said.

“The government respects and protects press freedom, but we definitely will not allow Chinese press to spread false information through fake news,” it said in a statement.

The council’s spokesman Chui Chui-cheng told AFP that Ye had in the past attempted to report at military bases without authorisation.

Ye also sparked controversy in February when he accused a Japanese rescue team sent in after a deadly earthquake in Taiwan’s Hualien city of refusing to go into a badly damaged building out of fear for their safety.

Authorities said at the time it was untrue and some social media users blamed Ye for trying to dent Taiwan’s relations with Japan, one of its key allies.

Ye frequently criticises leader Tsai Ing-wen and her policies on his Facebook page and supports Beijing’s belief that Taiwan belongs to China.

His rejection comes as tensions escalate between Taipei and Beijing, with China increasing military and diplomatic pressure on the island which it sees as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold.

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In retaliation, Taiwan — which is a self-ruling democracy and sees itself as a sovereign nation — has said it would tighten screening for Chinese officials applying to visit the island.

Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the ban on Ye was a “bad precedent” and that Chinese reporters in Taiwan provided “objective and fair reports”.

Ye said in a Facebook post that he believed he had been blacklisted for his reporting on the February quake.

“Taiwan authorities can block me physically, but can they block my mouth and my pen?” he wrote.

“Increasing cross-strait understanding has always been my pursuit,” he said.

Cross-strait relations have rapidly deteriorated since Tsai came to power two years ago as she has refused to acknowledge both sides are part of “one China”.

Instead, she has called on the international community to “constrain” Communist China from breaching the liberal values shared by Taiwan and other nations.   /vvp

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