Mainland reporters welcomed by defense ministry


The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday that resident mainland Chinese reporters will be welcome to cover its routine press conferences.

The MND made the statement in connection with the arrival of two journalists from mainland China’s official Xinhua News Agency for news coverage missions for up to a month.

The ministry said all relevant government agencies have worked out principles for handling news coverage applications by mainland reporters.

“Like other government agencies, the MND will offer the same services to mainland reporters as those offered to their local and foreign counterparts,” a ministry official said, adding that all regular MND news conferences will be open to mainland journalists.

Nevertheless, the official said mainland reporters will not be allowed to visit Taiwan’s military facilities because mainland China also has not yet opened its military installations for visits or news coverage by Taiwan reporters. “We have to maintain this ban in line with the principle of parity,” he added.

As part of its efforts to promote news exchanges and boost mutual understanding between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the government decided last November to open its door for mainland news organizations to post reporters in Taiwan for news coverage for up to one month on each visit.

Two Xinhua correspondents — Fan Liqing and Chen Binhua — left Beijing for Taiwan via Hong Kong yesterday, making them the first batch of mainland reporters to arrive for month-long news coverage missions under Taiwan’s new “open-door” policy.

Fan, deputy director of Xinhua’s Taiwan and Hong Kong news department, is no stranger to Taiwan. She was among the first group of mainland journalists to cover news in Taiwan after the decades-old ban on civilian exchanges across the Taiwan Strait was lifted in the late ‘80s. Chen, a reporter with the Xinhua’s Taiwan and Hong Kong news department, has covered many rounds of cross-strait talks over the past decade.

Fan said in a recent telephone interview that she hopes her new assignment in Taiwan will help expand cross-strait news exchanges and promote mutual understanding. “I’m convinced that increased cross-strait news exchanges will be conducive to overall bilateral relations,” she added.

Fan further said her news coverage will not be confined to cross-strait relations. “We’ll attend press conferences given by any unit so long as there is news or major policy announcement,” Fan said, adding she hopes that Taiwan journalists will regard her and her colleague as their equal counterparts and strengthen mutual contacts and exchanges.

Fan also said she looks forward to seeing Taiwan and mainland Chinese news organizations allowed to branch out across the Taiwan Strait in the near future.

In addition to Xinhua News Agency, mainland authorities have also agreed to allow several of its central-level media organizations, including the People’s Daily, to post journalists in Taiwan for news coverage.

In the past, mainland Chinese reporters were allowed to cover news in Taiwan on a case-by-case basis. Only 300 mainland journalists have actually done so in the past 10 years.