Although Taiwanese politics and elections are always sensitive topics in China, the presidential and parliamentary balloting held on January 16 reportedly provoked more media restrictions and warnings than usual. This may have had to do with the outcome, according to media bulletin from Freedom House. As expected, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) emerged victorious and on the way electing its first female president and the first non-KMT legislative majority.
Coverage online and in print media was much more muted than in 2012, when the KMT won the elections, writes the Committee to Protect Journalists. Whereas major Chinese web portals offered specialised online features in 2012, this year there were only a handful of updates from the official Xinhua news agency, and the Sina Weibo microblogging service temporarily censored searches containing the term Taiwan. In newspapers, front-page coverage in 2012 gave way to brief reports buried on the inner pages in 2016.
The change reflects both specific restrictions surrounding the elections and a generally more tightly controlled media and internet environment compared with four years ago. The Cyberspace Administration of China reportedly barred publications and websites from sending reporters to Taiwan and prohibited live updates. News outlets that sent journalists anyway kept their coverage low-profile and relegated live updates to mobile applications rather than website homepages.