‘Fake news’ Chinese journalist is refused entry by Taiwan

TV reporter accused of working at military bases without permission and untrue accusation against Japanese rescue team after Taiwan earthquake

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 10:20pm

Taiwan authorities have barred a reporter for a television network on the mainland 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 the mainland.

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

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

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Ye has regularly been sent to Taiwan on assignments for the past 10 years, but his latest application to re-enter the island was 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 Agence France-Presse that Ye had previously attempted to report at military bases without authorisation.

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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 that 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 Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her policies on his Facebook page, and he supports Beijing’s belief that Taiwan belongs to the mainland.

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

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

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

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

“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.”

Cross-strait relations have rapidly deteriorated since Tsai came to power two years ago. She has refused to acknowledge that 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.