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MOFA denies asking Polish media to retract report on occupation

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday insisted that its office in Poland did not ask a Polish media outlet to retract a report on protesters' actions at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.

Zhang Ming-zhong (張銘忠), MOFA's director-general of European affairs, told The China Post yesterday that he has personally contacted Jack Chiang (江國強), Taiwan's top envoy to Poland, in an attempt to clarify the accusation raised by a Polish journalist who said that Taipei's office in Warsaw asked the news outlet to retract a report on the protestors' occupation at the government compound on March 23 and subsequent police eviction.

According to information provided by Chiang, Zhang said the Taipei Economic and Cultural Bureau in Poland was only asking for a more balanced report on the incident after a report written by Hanna Shen, a Taipei-based journalist for the Polish media group Niezalezna, who used an analogy between the occupation of the Executive Yuan and the subsequent police crackdown and the occupation of the central square in Kiev, Ukraine.

Zhang said the analogy was inappropriate and thus the office asked the media group to make a more balanced report. It did not ask the group to “retract” the report, he added.

The MOFA official stressed that Taiwan fully respects media freedom and will never attempt to interfere with freedom of the press.

But it is the job of Taiwan's overseas offices to keep close tabs on foreign media reports regarding Taiwan and make timely responses and clarifications when needed, he said.

According to local media reports yesterday, Shen said the letter written by the Taipei office in Warsaw to her media group was an attempt to control media freedom.

Analogy Between Taiwan and Ukraine

According to the letter that was made public by local media, the representative office said Taiwan is a “robust democracy and the people in Taiwan enjoy a high degree of freedom of speech.”

However, the office requested that an “appropriate retraction ... be made to present the current picture of this news story and avoid misunderstanding among people in Poland and Taiwan.”

The letter continues by saying that “making an analogy between a fully fledged democracy and the bloodshed that happened in Ukraine” not only presents a “completely wrong image of Taiwan,” it is also insulting.

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