Posted by: mel | December 24, 2009

Beijing Pressures Asian Countries to Silence Independent Radio Network

Epoch Times | By Tan Hohua | 24 December 2009

As the Chinese regime negotiates free-trade deals with Taiwan, it is also extending its long arm to restrict freedom of the press on the neighboring island.

Sound of Hope (SOH), an independent radio network headquartered in the United States, has been warned by its carrier in Taiwan that its contract could be terminated.

SOH contracted with Taiwan’s Central Broadcasting System (CBS) in 2004.

“It is because of Taiwan’s democratic system that SOH chose to work with CBS,” SOH President Zeng Yong said, adding that the station has been getting more and more popular among mainland Chinese because of its unbiased news reports on current political and social problems in China.

The station has worked with CBS in a mutually successful relationship for nearly six years. Daily air time has increased by two hours every year since 2004.

Madam Ke of SOH said, “According to a source, since the second half of 2008, the Beijing regime has been using various means to pressure CBS to cut off the shortwave broadcasts by SOH.”

“CBS President Wang Tan-ping told us that it was difficult to continue the relationship because of the pressure from Beijing. After the contract expires on Jan. 11, 2010, we have been told that it will need to be reviewed and adjusted,” Ke continued.

Challenge to Freedom of the Press

Zeng said that he believes the problem is caused by issues of economic gain. According to Zeng, the Canadian Prime Minister Harper demonstrated that it is not necessary to sacrifice one’s principles in exchange for economic interests on a recent visit to China.

“This is not just interference [directed] to SOH, but a challenge to freedom of the press in democratic Taiwan,” Zeng said.

“We believe the decision to adjust the contract did not come from Taiwan’s government as a whole, but rather from a few individuals. We hope to rectify the situation through communication with the Taiwanese government,” he said.

Similar Interference in Indonesia

SOH’s branch in Indonesia, Batam-based Era Baru Radio Network, encountered similar interference from Beijing. Era Baru started its Chinese and Indonesian language broadcasts in March 2005. Its signal also covers neighboring countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia.

In 2007, the Chinese Embassy sent a threatening letter to the Indonesian government’s Communications Ministry and the Indonesian Broadcasting Committee, demanding termination of Era Baru’s license because its programs on media cover-ups and human rights issues in China were influencing Chinese people living within the broadcast area.

Currently, Era Baru is arguing the case with the Indonesian Broadcasting Committee in the Indonesian Supreme Court.

Read the original Chinese article

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