RTHK rejects govt complaint over Taiwan interview - RTHK
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RTHK rejects govt complaint over Taiwan interview

2020-04-02 HKT 18:37
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  • RTHK management have dismissed the government's claim that a recent interview with the WHO on Taiwan breached the public broadcaster's charter. File photo: RTHK
    RTHK management have dismissed the government's claim that a recent interview with the WHO on Taiwan breached the public broadcaster's charter. File photo: RTHK
Radio Television Hong Kong on Thursday rejected a government claim that the station has breached its mission and charter in relation to an interview with the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding Taiwan, as an adviser to the broadcaster accused the administration of damaging RTHK's editorial autonomy.

A government statement in the afternoon said last weekend's episode of the English-language programme "The Pulse" had breached the "One China" principle and "the purposes and mission of RTHK as a public service broadcaster as specified in the charter."

The WHO official who took part in the interview appeared to pretend not to hear a question about whether Taiwan should have membership of the global health body, before the video call was abruptly ended.

A clip of the interview went viral on social media, with many people mocking the official and lambasting the WHO's stance on Taiwan amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government statement said that as one of its departments, RTHK should not deviate from the understanding that WHO membership is based on sovereign states, and the Director of Broadcasting "should be responsible for this".

But in its own statement responding to the government's allegation, RTHK noted that the episode in question looked at various responses across the world to the coronavirus emergency, with Taiwan the focus of just part of the programme. The island was not referred to as a "country", but a "place".

"RTHK reviewed the content of the episode and found that it did not violate the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, nor did it violate the Radio Television Hong Kong Charter," a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, a member of RTHK's programme advisory panel, Fermi Wong, said she was furious about the government's statement, which she suspected had been issued following pressure from Beijing.

Wong said the administration's warning has damaged the public broadcaster's editorial autonomy.

"When you look at the interview done by the Pulse reporter, it is about the coronavirus issue, it is about health. I don't really understand why when a reporter is asking something relating to health, she or he has to remember there is 'One Country, Two Systems' … in line with the government or China," she said.

"I believe the government statement may come after some kind of pressure from the Foreign Ministry or the Chinese Communist Party, I don't know. But I think the statement is the biggest nonsense."