By Siukei Cheung
Taiwan’s answer to monolithic media dictator Rupert Murdoch, Tsai Eng-Meng has set his sights on procuring a 32 percent majority share in his biggest rival company, Next Media Group, which will make him helmsman of just under half of Taiwan’s newspapers.
Critics argue that Tsai’s distinctly pro-PRC position threatens the independence of Taiwanese media and is at odds with Taiwan’s efforts to distance their own political interests from those of Beijing.
In an interview with Washington Post in January 2012, Tsai expressed his belief that Taiwan’s merger with China “is going to happen sooner or later.” Though doubtless he is pushing for the former.
An internal company newsletter in 2008 quoted Tsai proclaiming that the very reason he acquired the China Times Group was to “use the power of the press to advance relations between China and Taiwan”.
The media mogul’s former employees note two (of many) instances of apparently politically motivated reporting by CTi cable news station and China Times: the lambasting of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan in 2009, and the scant coverage of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo’s receipt of the Nobel Peace prize in 2010.
Tsai’s more active role in allegedly promoting Beijing’s interests can be exemplified in his involvement in the Diaoyu/Senkaku island debate. Last September, Tsai donated five million Taiwanese dollars towards the voyage of 60 Taiwanese fishing vessels to the island chain and soon after published a damning editorial in the China Times calling for the Taiwanese government to join Beijing in pushing for Chinese sovereignty over the islands.