Chinese attempt to influence JPost is 'blatant' free speech violation - MK

The Chinese embassy demanded that The Jerusalem Post remove an exclusive interview of Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and threatened that it may affect China-Israel relations.

 Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks to Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz on May 30, 2022 from his office in Taipei. (photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan)
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks to Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz on May 30, 2022 from his office in Taipei.
(photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan)

The Chinese embassy demanded that The Jerusalem Post remove an exclusive interview of Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and threatened that it may affect China-Israel relations.

The Chinese ambassador’s attempt to influence The Jerusalem Post’s coverage of its policies on Taiwan are “chutzpah of the first degree” and “a blatant attempt to damage freedom of speech and press freedom in Israel,” MK Moshe Arbel (Shas) wrote in a query to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu warned Israel in an exclusive interview with the Post’s Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz on Monday that Israel was relying too much on China and that Beijing was readying to invade his country.

"In the State of Israel the government does not dictate to a newspaper what is and what is not approved for publication (besides security censorship), and foreign governments must not be allowed to attempt to dictate to Israeli newspapers and navigate media discourse according to their foreign interest."

Shas MK Moshe Arbel
 Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu attends a news conference on Taiwan's humanitarian aid for Ukraine, in Taipei, Taiwan April 1, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/FABIAN HAMACHER) Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu attends a news conference on Taiwan's humanitarian aid for Ukraine, in Taipei, Taiwan April 1, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/FABIAN HAMACHER)

Arbel then asked whether the Chinese embassy had reached out to the Foreign Ministry regarding the matter and if Lapid was aware of the Chinese embassy’s actions. He also questioned why Lapid had not rebuked the Chinese ambassador, and how he was planning to act in order to safeguard press freedom.

The Chinese threats

A top Chinese diplomat responded by threatening in a telephone call to downgrade relations with the State of Israel and sever ties with the Post unless it deleted the interview.

The Chinese embassy’s spokesperson later sent a letter expressing its “firm opposition and strong condemnation” against the interview of a “Taiwan independence separatist.”

“The Chinese Embassy in Israel expresses firm opposition and strong condemnation against The Jerusalem Post for publishing an ‘exclusive interview’ of Joseph Wu, a ‘Taiwan Independence’ separatist, to spread separatist noises in total disregard of the Embassy’s objection,” the letter began.

“The Taiwan question, concerning China’s core interests and our people’s national sentiments, is purely China’s internal affair that allows no external interference. The one-China principle is an international consensus and a basic norm governing international relations. The attempts of ‘Taiwan Independence’ forces to create ‘one China, one Taiwan’ or ‘two Chinas’ will never succeed,” it said.

"The Taiwan question, concerning China's core interests and our people's national sentiments, is purely China's internal affair that allows no external interference."

Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Israel

“The Taiwan question, concerning China’s core interests and our people’s national sentiments, is purely China’s internal affair that allows no external interference.

“The attempts of foreign anti-China forces to use the Taiwan card to interfere with China’s internal affairs and contain China’s development will never succeed,” the letter continued. “The attempts of ‘Taiwan Independence’ forces and foreign anti-China forces to obstruct and undermine the steady and sound development of China-Israel relations will never succeed.

“We demand The Jerusalem Post to respect China’s core interests and the Chinese people’s national sentiments, refrain from being manipulated by ‘Taiwan Independence’ forces and foreign anti-China forces, and take real actions to eliminate the egregious impacts of the interview and contribute to China-Israel relations,” the letter concluded.

“Thank you, China, for the note, but let me clarify that respect – as you ask for – does not include ignoring hard truths and telling stories about Taiwan to the world,” Katz responded on Twitter. “That’s exactly what The Jerusalem Post will keep doing.”