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June 28, 2017

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Local press freedom slumps, but still ranked best in Asia

TAIPEI--Taiwan's ranking for press freedom fell three notches from a year earlier to 50th, but it remained the best in Asia, according to the World Press Freedom Index 2014 released by Reporters without Borders.

The retreat in Taiwan's global ranking reflected China's growing economic clout, which has allowed Beijing to extend its influence over the media in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, "which had been largely spared political censorship until recently," the organization said.

"Media independence is now in jeopardy in these three territories, which are either 'special administrative regions' or claimed by Beijing," the report said.

Despite the setback, Taiwan remained the top-ranked Asian country for press freedom in the Reporters without Borders index, and it finished fifth in the Asia-Pacific region, behind New Zealand (9th overall), Australia (28th), Samoa (40th) and Papua New Guinea (44th).

Similar to Taiwan, press freedom throughout East Asia took steps backwards in the past year, according to the index.

China fell to 175th place in 2014 from 173th last year, Hong Kong fell to 61st from 58th, Japan dropped to 59th from 53rd, and South Korea tumbled to 57th from 50th in the 2013 index.

Finland retained the top position in the 2014 press freedom list, ahead of the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg and Andorra. The United States fell 14 spots from a year earlier to 46th.

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