Lam stands by ‘one-China’ criticisms levelled at HK public broadcaster over Taiwan questions to WHO official

09-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s leader has defended the commerce minister’s criticisms of the city’s public broadcaster, which he said had breached the “one China” policy by allowing one of its reporters to press a top World Health Organization (WHO) on Taiwan’s membership status.

Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she “endorsed and supported” the stance of Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, who in a statement last week slammed RTHK, sparking concerns over press freedom among station staff.

A March 28 interview with WHO assistant director general Dr Bruce Aylward on RTHK news programme ‘The Pulse’ sparked controversy after he was pressed on the health organisation’s stance on Taiwan. Photo: RTHK

A March 28 interview with WHO assistant director general Dr Bruce Aylward on RTHK news programme ‘The Pulse’ sparked controversy after he was pressed on the health organisation’s stance on Taiwan. Photo: RTHK

“Let me make this very clear, either as a public broadcaster or government department, RTHK has to fulfil the very important and fundamental principle of upholding ‘one country, two systems’,” Lam said, referencing China’s governing principle for Hong Kong since its return from British rule.

Beijing officials and pro-Beijing politicians have previously argued that to understand “one country, two systems” correctly, one must accept the one-China policy.

Yau on Thursday publicly took issue with a March 28 episode of English-language current affairs programme “The Pulse”. In one segment of the broadcast, a journalist asked WHO assistant director general Dr Bruce Aylward via teleconference if the organisation would consider granting Taiwan membership.

In the clip, Aylward said he could not hear the question, then asked the reporter to skip to the next question when they offered to repeat it.

When the reporter continued to ask about Taiwan, the line was disconnected. When Aylward rejoined the programme, he was asked about Taiwan’s progress in containing the Covid-19 virus, to which he replied that all areas of China had done well and wished Hong Kong luck in its efforts.

The broadcaster later clarified that Taiwan was at no point referred to as a country in the programme.

Lam on Tuesday said it was the broadcaster’s job to help people understand Beijing’s governing principle on Hong Kong.

“In the charter for RTHK, there are very clear requirements in its public broadcaster role to deepen the Hong Kong people’s understanding of ‘one country, two systems’,” she said.

Lam added that its role as a public broadcaster did not give it licence to deviate from that principle.

Later in the day, at a special finance committee session at the Legislative Council, Yau got a chance to defend his statement in person.

While some pro-Beijing legislators at the meeting accused RTHK of using their platform to promote Taiwanese “independence”, pan-democrats said the government was guilty of exercising political censorship.

The opposition lawmakers also took the opportunity to mock Yau for what they said was an attempt to please Beijing in hopes of eventually succeeding Lam as chief executive.

“Let me make this very clear, either as a public broadcaster or government department, RTHK has to fulfil the very important and fundamental principle of upholding ‘one country, two systems’,” Lam said, referencing China’s governing principle for Hong Kong since its return from British rule.

Beijing officials and pro-Beijing politicians have previously argued that to understand “one country, two systems” correctly, one must accept the one-China policy.

Yau on Thursday publicly took issue with a March 28 episode of English-language current affairs programme “The Pulse”. In one segment of the broadcast, a journalist asked WHO assistant director general Dr Bruce Aylward via teleconference if the organisation would consider granting Taiwan membership.

In the clip, Aylward said he could not hear the question, then asked the reporter to skip to the next question when they offered to repeat it.

When the reporter continued to ask about Taiwan, the line was disconnected. When Aylward rejoined the programme, he was asked about Taiwan’s progress in containing the Covid-19 virus, to which he replied that all areas of China had done well and wished Hong Kong luck in its efforts.

The broadcaster later clarified that Taiwan was at no point referred to as a country in the programme.

Lam on Tuesday said it was the broadcaster’s job to help people understand Beijing’s governing principle on Hong Kong.

“In the charter for RTHK, there are very clear requirements in its public broadcaster role to deepen the Hong Kong people’s understanding of ‘one country, two systems’,” she said.

Lam added that its role as a public broadcaster did not give it licence to deviate from that principle.

Later in the day, at a special finance committee session at the Legislative Council, Yau got a chance to defend his statement in person.

While some pro-Beijing legislators at the meeting accused RTHK of using their platform to promote Taiwanese “independence”, pan-democrats said the government was guilty of exercising political censorship.

The opposition lawmakers also took the opportunity to mock Yau for what they said was an attempt to please Beijing in hopes of eventually succeeding Lam as chief executive.

Yau flatly rejected the claims he had his eye on Hong Kong’s top job, saying: “I can emphatically tell you I have no interest in anything outside my current job.”

He also said he was not interfering with RTHK’s editorial independence. “My point is that the presentation in that episode breached the one-China principle,” he said.

RTHK director of broadcasting Leung Ka-wing, who Yau previously said was responsible for the channel deviating from its charter, was also on hand at the meeting, and insisted Taiwan’s status had never been in question at the channel.

“RTHK acknowledges the one-China principle cannot be breached. And RTHK has always upheld the principle,” he said.

Beijing has long insisted that Taiwan is part of its territory and has pressured international bodies to follow its one-China policy. While praised for its efforts in stemming the spread of the coronavirus, the island does not hold WHO membership, as it is not recognised as a sovereign state by the United Nations.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/lam-stands-one-china-criticisms-103350906.html

 


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