Author: Holli Knight

TAIWAN: Cross-strait cooperation – Be careful how you use it?

Publishing representatives in Taiwan are encouraging bilateral exchanges between their island democracy and mainland China, as a means of increasing readership and producing quality Chinese-language publications. According to the Taipei Times, the head of Taiwan’s Planter Press Co., Lee Ho states that one measure would be reducing taxes on books exported across the strait in order to increase Taiwanese competitiveness. Publishing relations have been congenial over the last twenty years, but Lee asserts that it is time for the Taiwanese government to “take further actions.” According to the Taipei Times, President Ma Ying-jeou agrees. But while these “actions” remain largely undefined, their projected effect on Taiwanese publications is even more ambiguous. Such measures would, at most, fundamentally combine the industries of both countries, or at the very least, the regulatory practices – a risky move for democratic Taiwan. China, after all, continuously engages in censorship of its publications. Unlike democratic publishing institutions, which often encourage its readership to think outside the accepted norms of the culture, Chinese publishers see themselves as having a role in maintaining the cultural status quo. As of yet, the island’s journalists don’t seem to appreciate the gravity of such a transition in the Taiwanese publishing world. For more information, please visit: Taipei...

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INDONESIA: Internet Usage Rises—and So Do Tempers and Worries

The Communications and Information Ministry in Indonesia claims that it has effectively blocked nearly 1 million pornographic websites, and vows to continue its mass censorship of unfavorable Internet publications. According to the Jakarta Post, the nation’s leading English-language newspaper, “censorship on porn sites was in line with the government’s commitment to securing sites accessed by Indonesians and building a more positive character for the nation.” Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring argues that such censorship will promote more ethical use of the Internet. Boasting one of the world’s most rapid increases in Internet use, Indonesia is in the midst of defining itself as a democratic nation while maintaining powerful ties to Islamic values. This fact alone has made the Internet boom a topic of deep concern for the nation’s leaders. While Titaful argues that it is the government’s role to promote ethics via censorship, from a Western perspective, it is difficult to understand how inhibiting a fundamental right of democracy can encourage the growth of democratic values. Indonesia, however, is home to the largest population of Muslims in the world, providing a structural “gray area” where censorship is not necessarily frowned upon… yet. For more information, please visit: The Jakarta...

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TAIWAN: Free At Last?

It seems that Taiwan’s journalists are not in agreement about how “free” their island democracy really is.In fact, there is a trend surfacing in Taiwanese newspapers with many articles implicitly asking the same question of its readership: Are we a democracy? Certain journalists argue that Taiwan is far too influenced by outside factors – some bigger than others.  China, obviously, has proven an overwhelming influence on Taiwan’s political and economic strategies. On the other end of the spectrum, other journalists side with the recent Freedom House report that pegged Taiwan among the top “free” nations. According to the Taipei Times – one of the nation’s leading English-language newspapers – “the Washington-based group ranks political rights and civil liberties on a scale of 1 (most free) to 7 (least free) largely by reference to the values of the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights.” Some of the qualities taken into the rating formula are free elections, multiparty democracy, rule of law and equality of opportunity. These values, however, show just how subjective the word “freedom” can be, as they are framed in terms of an inherently democratic (and indeed Western) process. And despite Taiwan’s steady incline up this road to democracy, opponents of Freedom House’s results argue outside factors have too much bearing on the lives of Taiwanese. Perhaps, they suggest. Taiwan needs more “freedom” from external pressures in order...

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AUSTRALIA: Down-Under Goes Over the Top Over Obama

Even before U.S. President Barack Obama’s Air Force One touched down in Australia this week the trip was causing quite the media frenzy. An article in the Herald Sun, one of the widest read newspapers in Australia, trumpeted the fact that Obama was to be welcomed with a jar of Marmite, a popular native breakfast spread…

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Asia Media International Staff

ASIA MEDIA INTERNATIONAL is a student-driven publication of Loyola Marymount University’s Asia Media Center – a vital part of LMU’s Department of Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS), in an alliance with the university's award-winning Dept.of Political Science, and with the influential Pacific Century Institute.

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Aashna Malpani, Yi Ning Wong

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Gareth C.C. Chang, Tom Plate, Jennifer Ramos, Kal Raustiala, Jeremiah Fajardo, Ben Sullivan, Greg Treverton