Taiwan may not be ideal base for int’l media: foreign correspondents

Three foreign correspondents expressed their views on foreign media's shifting regional operations in Asia and what it could mean for Taiwan. (Screengrab from New Power Party/ Facebook)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Is Taiwan the most suitable base for foreign media outlets in the region? Not really, according to some foreign correspondents who were commenting on international news agencies’ exodus from Hong Kong following the adoption of the National Security Law. 

Speaking in a discussion panel organized by the New Power Party (時代力量) on Monday, three foreign correspondents, William Foreman from the Associated Press, Jane Rickards from The Economist and Erin Hale, a freelancer, shared their views on using Taiwan as a regional operation hub.

According to Rickards, international media agencies may rather choose Japan or South Korea to set up their new regional bases because of the countries’ close proximity to China.

Any decision and less likely  to further agitate the Chinese government.

“Political status” is Taiwan’s unavoidable drawbacks, Rickards said, before adding that “anything to do with Taiwan really angers China.”

The correspondents also pointed out Taiwan’s shortcomings in the “bilingual” department.

According to all three journalists, press releases are often updated only once every month on official government websites, deterring foreign correspondents of getting timely information for their articles.

The lack of an English-speaking spokesperson for official departments also created problems for foreign correspondents, as Rickards recounted a time when she called the Mainland Affairs Council only to find no one could answer her questions in English. 

In addition, Hale also added that sometimes agencies don’t engage with each other, listing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Agency as examples.

This would create a hassle for correspondents who wish to apply for a work visa or an employment gold card in Taiwan, as they would need to bounce back and forth between both agencies.

“If Taiwan could set up a central newsroom with really strong writers and social media experts to answer questions for foreign media,” it would ultimately become a more attractive place for international media to set up base, Hale concluded.