Reporters without Borders has opened its first Asian bureau — in Taipei


The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Reporters without Borders officially opened its first Asian office in Taipei on Tuesday, with a warm welcome for the media rights watchdog from President Tsai Ing-wen.

Also known by its French name Reporters sans frontiers, RSF will use its Taipei bureau to focus on East Asian territories including China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Mongolia.

A press conference was held at the National Central Library to officially launch the bureau, with RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire and Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi in attendance.

During a separate meeting with the two a day earlier at the Presidential Office, Tsai said Taiwan welcomed RSF and that she believed the local office would be the group’s best worldwide.

“Taiwan will become the home of Reporters without Borders,” she said.

According to Deloire, Taiwan was chosen as the location for RSF’s first Asian bureau not only because of its central geographic location and ease of operating logistics “but also considering its status of being the freest place in Asia in our annual Press Freedom Index ranking.”

In RSF’s World Press Freedom Index for 2017, Taiwan was found to have the freest press in Asia, ranking 45th globally, ahead of South Korea (63), Hong Kong (73) and China (175).

In April, Deloire told The New York Times that actually “Hong Kong was the place where we wanted to open an office in Asia.”

However, he said, concerns about the city’s “lack of legal certainty” and fears of RSF members being put under surveillance prompted the switch to Taipei.

The main threat to press freedom in Taiwan “comes from China, which has been exerting growing economic and political pressure on the Taiwanese media,” according to the organization.

President Tsai has said that her administration will continue striving to improve its protection of the press and human rights, and will seek to attract more NGOs to set up shop in Taiwan, according to Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇).