Nearly one hundred thousand protesters gathered in front of Taiwan’s Presidential Building in the Zhongzheng district of Taipei to rally against what they see as an attempt by the People’s Republic of China to control the media of Taiwan with aid from President Ma Ying-jeou.
The rally was organized and led by the pro-independent Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who demanded that the president step down because of a flagging economy. In addition, protestors also lobbed charges that pro-Beijing media is taking over domestic outlets, particularly exhorting officials to block the acquisition of the country’s most popular paper, the Daily Apple, by a group thought to have pro-PRC interests.
The leader of the DPP, Su Tseng-chang, accused Ma Ying-jeou of allowing pro-Beijing media conglomerates to overtake Taiwan,
The media freedom that I have witnessed Taiwanese people fight for with bravery and even their own lives is being destroyed.
Ma Ying-jeou, elected in 2008, has worked towards improving the relationship between Taiwan, the Republic of China, and the mainland, the People’s Republic of China, but critics worry that his measures have gone too far in tying the island to the mainland.
Concerns about losing regional economic clout to China were what prompted Ma to sign a slew of trade agreements with Beijing but critics are concerned that, particularly with mainland acquisitions in the media sector, the Taiwanese press will become like that of Hong Kong after the British handover - pro-Beijing and self-censoring, the end of a truly independent media in Taiwan.
Ma Ying-jeou supports legislation to prevent the creation of media monopolies, but recently rejected such DPP-sponsored bills because they were ‘not well thought out.’
The political climate is ripe for DPP success in elections; however, it would have rough seas to navigate if it continues its talks about independence, something Beijing despises. The ruling Kuomintang party may have to absorb some of the DPP movement’s ideas in order to hold on to power, meaning a slight pivot away from Beijing.