About two weeks after one of Taiwan’s leading newspapers, the China Times, published a front-page story that called China’s envoy to Taiwan a “C-list politician,” the paper’s editor-in-chief was replaced.Sure, sure, Taiwan can move closer to China without any effect on its democracy.... As the report notes at the end, self-censorship is already a fact at many local media outlets.
The newspaper said the replacement was a routine rotation. However, it fueled talk at the paper and at the island’s other publications that the move was spurred by anger in China over the story and that it was another sign of China’s increasing clout in Taiwan.
Hsia Chen, former editor in chief of the China Times, had been running the newspaper since early 2008. Later that year, a Hong Kong-listed rice-cracker manufacturer, Want Want China Holding Ltd., acquired it. Tsai Eng-meng, chairman of Want Want, decided to replace Ms. Hsia late last week, according to the paper’s staff.
Tsai, a Taiwanese businessman who has been running business in China for two decades, is well-known for his pro-China position. Since he took the China Times reins, he has publicly reiterated that his newspapers are not supposed to criticize Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, his administration and the Chinese government. Last August, he further founded a tabloid, the Want Daily, in Taiwan to promote China to the island’s readers.
Since the summer of 2009, Tsai has been complaining that the paper’s news pages are not supportive enough of the governments of Taiwan and China, according to some employees at the paper. In September, the paper’s front-page coverage of the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, whom China considers an enemy, specifically sparked Tsai’s anger, according to some of the paper’s reporters, who declined to be identified. The paper eventually decreased the quantity of reports about the spiritual leader’s visit and moved such coverage to inside pages.
Actually, I am glad that Tsai is destroying the journalistic credibility of the China Times. As pro-China forces increasingly bend the Blue news, people will start moving away from them toward papers that give a more Taiwan-centric view of things.
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