Opinion – Thailand’s Press Freedom Under Threat: Government Yielding to Chinese Influence on Media Narratives

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China has no right to dictate to media in other countries whom they can or cannot interview.

It was disappointing to see that Thai PBS decided to take down its interview with Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, due to comments from the Chinese embassy in Bangkok. However, it is understandable given that they are government-run.

Still, the government should not dance to every tune played by the Chinese government. Thailand is not one of China’s provinces, and the government needs to stop treating the country as such merely for economic gains from China’s investments and tourists.

Now, not only is the government considering allowing Chinese police to operate on Thai soil, but they are also allowing Beijing to dictate what can or cannot be said in Thai media?

This is truly unacceptable.

China can reject the interview as strongly as they want, but that does not mean that Thai PBS should take it down just to please the Chinese government.

The Thai people have the right to hear both sides of the argument, and both governments have no right to censor one side.

While the Chinese government has the right to claim that the interview “propagated Taiwan independence fallacies,” they have no right to demand that Thai PBS “correct the mistakes” and only propagate the Chinese Communist Party’s One China story.

As the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out, the Chinese embassy’s comments that the interview “hurts another country and its people under the pretext of freedom of the press” are extremely laughable.

China has no ground to lecture any country about press freedom, as there is no press freedom in China. According to the latest report by Reporters Without Borders, China ranks 179 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom, only better than North Korea. Thailand is at 106th.

Another worrisome development in this aspect was Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Puangphet Chunla-iad’s visit to the headquarters of the state-run China Global Television Network (CGTN) in China in October.

What is the Thai government trying to learn from CGTN? How to create propaganda and silence opposing voices?

The current government claims to want to be a reconciliation government for all Thais, but all they have been doing so far is concentrating on communicating with those who agree without raising any questions.

Now, they are attempting to learn how to communicate with the public from a Chinese state-run media agency while allowing the Chinese government to dictate what information can be given to the Thai people.

The government should reconsider its actions against press freedom in this country, or they will end up being no better than the previous junta’s repression against the media.

What’s next? Arresting journalists who think differently from them? From the looks of it, they seem to be heading down that road at the moment.


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