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Censorship in Taiwan was greatly relaxed when the state moved away from authoritarianism in 1987. Since then, the media has generally been allowed to broadcast political opposition. Today, the focus of censorship is slander and libel, cross-Strait relations, and national security.


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Japanese period

In 1936 the Japanese authorities prohibited Lee Shih-chiao from exhibiting his painting Reclining Nude (橫臥裸婦) at the Taiyang Art Exhibition on the basis of indecency. This instigated widespread protest from the Taiwanese art community as comparable works by western artists were held by Japanese and Taiwanese museums.[1]

Republic of China period

In 1941, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the second volume of the book "Inside Asia", by John Gunther, was prohibited and censored by the Chinese government.[2]

After Taiwan was handed over the Kuomintang-led Republic of China (ROC) from Japan in 1945 and the start of the 38 year martial law period, the ROC, as an authoritarian state, exercised strict control of the media. Parties other than the Kuomintang, such as the Chinese Youth Party and China Democratic Socialist Party, were banned and media advocating either democracy or Taiwan independence was banned. Li Ao, a famous political activist in Taiwan, nationalist, and intellectual, had over 96 books banned from sale. Writer Bo Yang was jailed for eight years for his translation of the cartoon Popeye because the translation was interpreted as a criticism of leader Chiang Kai-shek. Taiwanese-language media was also banned, and children who spoke Taiwanese in school were physically punished. The revision of Criminal Acts against seditious speech in 1992 ended the persecution of political opponents.[citation needed]

Musician Wen Hsia became known as the "king of banned songs" due to having more than 100 songs banned by the KMT authorities.[3]


Censorship laws remain in place as applicable to the Taiwan Area, but are not enforced with the former rigour. The main areas of censorship, or alleged censorship, occur in the realms of politics, cross-Strait relations, and national security. The principal organs of censorship are the National Communications Commission (NCC) and former Government Information Office (GIO). The formerly murky lines of control exercised by the government over the media through party-ownership of media assets during the Kuomintang era have now been resolved by the progressive divestiture of such assets by the Kuomintang under sustained pressure from the Democratic Progressive Party.

Political censorship in Taiwan

Laws governing elections and politics restrict the publication and broadcasting of political material. For example, in the local elections of 2005, CDs with videos ridiculing candidates were confiscated in accordance to the Election and Recall Act. Laws prohibiting the promotion of Communism has already abolished in 2011.[4] For example, Taiwan Communist Party obtaining registration as a political party in 2008, and become the 141st registered party in Taiwan.[5]

More covert moves have also been made by the government to censor unfavorable media. In 2006 under Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, the independent National Communications Commission (NCC) refused to renew the broadcasting licenses of certain television channels suggesting that the broadcasters were not in compliance with broadcasting standards.[citation needed]

Publication censorship in Taiwan

During the martial law period the KMT, the only paper to feature occasional moderate criticisms of the government (along with some of the best news reporting) was the Independence Evening Post. The publication was the first to send journalists to China four months after the lifting of martial law, despite government opposition.[6] The authorities continually refused to allow it to publish for the more lucrative morning market until 1988.

Cross Strait relations

The use of overt and covert censorship in relation to mainland China and the People's Republic of China is an active area of controversy. For example, satellite channels perceived to adopt a pro-PRC or pro-unification editorial stance, such as Phoenix TV, were refused landing rights in Taiwan by the DPP-controlled government. Similarly, correspondent offices representing the PRC government-controlled Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily were closed by the DPP-controlled government. These policies were reversed after the election of the Kuomintang in 2008.[7]

Internet censorship in Taiwan

Further information: Telecommunications in Taiwan § Internet censorship

According to a survey conducted by Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry, an NGO, 81.8% of households had access to the Internet at the end of 2011.

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the authorities generally respect these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combine to protect freedom of speech and press. There are no official restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the authorities monitor e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight.[8]

Future of censorship in Taiwan

The authority for censorship in Taiwan since 2006 is the National Communications Commission (NCC).[9] On 26 June 2006 news reports said that a review by the Council of Grand Justices of the ROC found that part of the National Communications Commission Organization Act (e.g. Article 4) is unconstitutional, and that after 31 December 2008 the law provision is invalid.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Cheung, Han (12 July 2020). "Taiwan in Time: Private parts not allowed". Taipei Times. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  2. ^ The China Monthly Review. Vol. 96–97. J.W. Powell. 1941. p. 379. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  3. ^ Kuan-yin, Yeh; Lo, James (7 April 2022). "Taiwan's 'king of banned songs' Wen Hsia dies at 93". Focus Taiwan. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  4. ^ 不得主張共產分裂國土 刪除 Archived 2015-02-06 at the Wayback Machine,中央社,2011/05/16 (in Chinese)
  5. ^ 陳思穎 台北報導,〈人民可主張共產! 內政部:「台灣共產黨」申請備案獲准〉 Archived 2012-09-04 at,《NOWnews》2008-08-12 (in Chinese)
  6. ^ Han Cheung (11 September 2016). "Taiwan in time: Freedom of the press, China style". Taipei Times. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  7. ^ Zeldin, Wendy. "China; Taiwan: Reunification Talks Resume After Almost a Decade". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  8. ^ "Taiwan", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 22 March 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  9. ^ "National Communications Commission Organization Act", Presidential Announcement, Gazette of the Office of the President No. 6658, November 9, 2005. Archived 15 August 2007.
  10. ^ "Experimenting Independent Commissions in Taiwan's Civil Administrative Law System: Perils and Prospects" Archived June 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Jiunn-rong Yeh, Workshop on Comparative Administrative Law, Yale Law School, 8 May 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2013.