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China’s Instruction to Indian Media on How to Report Taiwan’s National Day Backfired

On Wednesday, October 7, an Indian independent journalist Aditya Raj Kaul posted the full text of a letter from the Chinese Embassy to India on Twitter. The letter gave instructions to Indian media on how to “properly” report the 109th anniversary of the Republic of China’s National Day on October 10th.

The letter started out by saying, “Regarding the so-called forthcoming ‘National Day of Taiwan,’ the Chinese Embassy in India would like to remind our media friends that there is only one China in the world, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.”

The letter then claimed these “facts” are recognized by the UN and represent the “universal consensus of the international community.” It went on to mention that countries with diplomatic relations with China, including India, should all honor the “one China” policy.

The Chinese embassy then stressed, “Taiwan shall not be referred to as a ‘country (nation)’ or the ‘Republic of China’ and the leader of China’s Taiwan region (shall not be referred to) as ‘President,’ so as not to send the wrong signals to the general public.” The letter then ended with a thinly veiled threat, “We are willing to maintain communication with media friends on China-related reports.”

The incident invited widespread attention. Nicola Smith, Asian correspondent of the Daily Telegraph also commented on Twitter. “Can’t imagine the Indian media will be told what to do by the Chinese embassy, particularly given the border tensions. (There is) also a factually inaccurate statement. The One China principle, as understood by Beijing, is NOT the ‘universal consensus of the international community.’”

Aditya Raj Kaul asked on Twitter, “Is this an indirect threat to Indian media who cover Taiwan?” He forwarded the letter to the official Twitter accounts of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Digital Diplomacy Lab.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a response on Twitter saying, “India is the largest democracy on Earth with a vibrant press & freedom-loving people. But it looks like communist China is hoping to march into the subcontinent by imposing censorship.” Digital Diplomacy Lab also posted a cartoon that showed President Tsai Ing-wen and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi were toasting together.

On Thursday October 8, the Indian media responded to the Chinese Embassy with action. The mainstream Indian newspapers Indian Express and The Statesman each published a full-page advertisement for Taiwan’s October 10th National Day, and a notice on a special TV report on Taiwan.

Source: Radio Free Asia, October 8, 2020