TAIWAN: Taiwan officially launched its first English-language news, lifestyle and entertainment television channel on Monday in a bid to expand international reach amid escalating tensions with China, which is slowly inching its way toward the island nation to dominate its sovereignty using coercive force.
The government-backed TaiwanPlus began its operations last year as a mostly online streaming platform and has been strongly supported and promoted by Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, President Tsai highlighted that the channel launch had already raised Taiwan’s international profile and expectations were high that the island will forge even closer relations with “countries that share our core values of freedom and democracy.”
“The stories of Taiwan should be shared with the world,” she said. “With more and more people around the world taking an interest in Taiwan, it is more important than ever that we have a platform to bring Taiwan to the international community.”
Beijing is increasingly active in English-language media, conveying the ruling Communist Party’s views to an outside audience, especially via state television’s English-language news channel China Global Television Network, or CGTN.
Beijing, which claims that the democratically-governed island nation of Taiwan is historically a part of its mainland, has continued its efforts to malign president Tsai’s efforts and launch retaliatory missiles to threaten US solidarity with Taiwan.
It aims to keep Taiwan’s democracy in solitude to attack it with ease, without any sort of Western influence hovering over it, especially from Taiwan’s biggest ally, the United States, which had recently sent its most outspoken dignitary, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on a trip to Taipei in August.
“We have an evil neighbour that constantly threatens us with the use of force… but we are not intimidated and life goes on normally,” Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters at the launch.
“Freedom, democracy and human rights have progressed substantively. Many friends in the world want to know how Taiwan has managed that and Taiwan is willing to let the world know,” he added.
China is also pressuring Taiwan’s international space, including foreign companies to refer to it as being part of China on their websites and routinely carrying out military exercises near the island to cause alarm.
Culture Minister Lee Yung-te said Taiwan needed its voice and should use a legitimate, international medium to channelise its point of view at a time when Beijing is attempting to gain ground on nationalist narratives.
“Internationally our voice has not been fully heard. China continually disseminates that Taiwan is part of China, and lots of people believe that. You tell them that’s not the case, and they ask, why?” Lee said.
“So in the future, we’ll be using Taiwan’s media to explain to the international community why that’s not so.”
The TV channel is so far available only in English, but Lee said that they were on the lookout in the United States in the next six months.
Taiwan already has a handful of domestic English-language media, the most prominent of which is the newspaper the Taipei Times, founded in 1999 and published by the mass circulation Liberty Times.