RSF Index Underscores “Desperate Need” in Asia for Reliable Press: RFA President

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WASHINGTON – Media freedom further declined in Radio Free Asia’s broadcast region, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its 2016 Press Freedom Index. Radio Free Asia (RFA) President Libby Liu said the report, which was issued today, underscores a need for objective, unbiased, and independent press in Asian countries with restricted media environments. Seven of RFA’s nine language services operate in countries that were ranked in the bottom 10 percent of the survey.

“In a year of Hong Kong booksellers being abducted, Burmese newspapers still operating under heavy restrictions, and China’s leadership resorting to every means possible to coerce journalists both inside and outside the country, there are few surprises in RSF’s index,” Liu said. “While this worrisome trend continues, it should not go unheeded.

“Despite recent advances in technology and the growth of social media, ruling regimes in Asia continue to impose severe limits on their citizens’ access to objective, independent press. Self-censorship also remains on the rise, even in countries with fewer restrictions such as Myanmar and Cambodia.

“The report emphasizes the desperate need among RFA’s audiences for the accurate, reliable news and information that we provide.”

Of the 180 countries ranked, RSF’s annual survey put North Korea second to last at 179, China at 176, Vietnam at 175, and Laos at 171. Cambodia was ranked 128 and Myanmar at 143. The report cited China’s Communist Party taking repression to “new heights” with the detentions of prominent journalists, forced televised confessions, and threats to their family members. Myanmar’s overall score declined, with the report noting the limits of recent reforms and measures taken to improve media freedom and safety. Free press also continued to decline in Hong Kong, once considered a bastion of free press, with the buying of the territory’s news outlets by Chinese businessmen intent on toeing the mainland government’s line.

RFA provides accurate, fact-based news and information via short- and medium-wave radio, satellite transmissions and television, online through the websites of its nine language services, and social media such as Facebook and YouTube, among other widely used platforms in its countries of operation. RFA’s language services are Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, and Uyghur, in China; Myanmar; Khmer (Cambodian); Vietnamese; Lao; and Korean.

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