References to the Taiwanese government are prohibited by a Hong Kong broadcaster.
In new restrictions that echo mainland China’s rhetoric, Hong Kong’s public broadcaster has prohibited personnel from referring to Taiwan’s leader as “president” or referring to the country’s “government.”
The decision comes as Beijing recasts Hong Kong in its own authoritarian image, with local authorities transforming the city’s government-run RTHK news station into something more akin to China’s heavily regulated state media.
RTHK management issued a set of new style regulations on how to refer to Taiwan in a memo emailed to all employees on Tuesday that was acquired by AFP.
Beijing claims the self-ruled democracy of 23 million people, officially known as the Republic of China, and has pledged to seize Taiwan one day, by force if necessary.
According to the message, employees are no longer allowed to use “inappropriate” terminology like “Taiwan’s president” or “Taiwan government” in any radio, television, or online content.
“When referring to Taiwan, inappropriate terms such as ‘country,’ ‘Republic of China,’ ‘ROC,’ etc. must not be utilized. Taiwan shall never be referred to as a sovereign state or recognized as such,” it continued.
The new verdict comes days after a prominent pro-Beijing lawmaker in Hong Kong accused the broadcaster of breaking the law by describing Taiwan in such a way.
The media office of RTHK declined to comment on why the new guidelines were implemented.
Many foreign news organizations, including AFP, have style rules that state that Taiwan should not be referred to as a country because the vast majority of countries do not recognize it.
However, banning allusions to the Republic of China, its president, or its government is uncommon.
Given that Taiwan is a de facto independent nation with its own elected president, currency, boundaries, and military, some media outlets have begun to refer to it as a country.
China’s state media goes to considerable pains to avoid any mention of Taiwan that would provide the island’s government any credibility.
Taiwan is frequently referred to as “China’s Taiwan territory,” and President Tsai Ing-wen is referred to as a “so-called leader.”
Hong Kong, which is semi-autonomous, remains a key Asian media center, with several international publications establishing regional offices there.
Since its return to China in 1997, the city has continuously declined in media freedom rankings.
Many are questioning whether the city can remain a journalistic hub in the wake of a recent crackdown following massive democracy protests two years ago.
Mainland China has one of the most repressive media policies in the world. Brief News from Washington Newsday.