Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hille at FT Times does it again

I haven't discussed the foreign media portrayals of Taiwan in over a month, and here Kathrin Hille at the Financial Times checks in with another bit of anti-Chen screed yesterday. The opening paragraphs are priceless:

A group of prominent supporters of Taiwan’s ruling party has urged Chen Shui-bian, president, to step down over corruption scandals implicating members of his family and his administration, creating fresh political uncertainty just weeks after Mr Chen survived an opposition attempt to unseat him.

Note how the article is entitled Taiwan’s ruling party calls for Chen to quit. Not Leading intellectuals call on Chen to Quit which would be a more accurate depiction of the information contained therein. I also like the last clause there just weeks after Mr Chen survived an opposition attempt to unseat him, written as if the issue was somehow in doubt, with no hint that there was never any question of the recall vote succeeding. A sad exaggeration of reality.

It is the first time that part of Mr Chen’s own camp has withdrawn its backing for him. The appeal was lodged by 15 professors and former dissidents, many of whom fought for democracy alongside leading Democratic Progressive party politicians in the 1980s.

There are multiple problems here -- a part of Mr. Chen's own camp has "withdrawn" its support for him before -- Chen created numerous enemies within the DPP when he became the candidate for President in 2000. Some of them, like Hsu Hsin-liang, resented Chen's ascendancy so much that they left the party. Are the group of 15 really all DPP supporters? We'll see a little further down....

“As he has already lost his moral authority and the trust of the people, we appeal to President Chen to seriously consider resigning from this post,” the group said in a manifesto published at the weekend, which has already attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

She then cites the manifesto. The Taipei Times had a good response to this today, from a media watcher who castigates the lack of evidence submitted by the group:

From this perspective, the view that the president should step down is unconvincing and, taking a more comprehensive view, also unrealistic. According to the media, Chen is being asked to resign because "he has lost his moral prestige and the public's trust." This is a subjective assessment containing no convincing arguments based on fact.

What's worse, one of the people behind the signature drive said on a call-in TV-show that the Presidential Office has become a center of lies and fraud and that the president "is but a dog with legal training." Such defamatory language has nothing to do with convincing arguments.

Well put, and it is good to see someone complain about the lack of facticity in the attacks on Chen. Hille goes on to strike fear into the heart of moderate businessmen everywhere, commenting that....

The development adds fresh uncertainty to the government’s plans to relax restrictions on cross-Strait trade and investment, which are opposed by radical pro-independence forces.

Those "radical" pro-independence forces support curbs on trade and investment with the mainland. Actually, that was the position of the KMT for three decades. Perhaps the issue is more complex than a label like "radical pro-independence" can encompass. But then Hille is not about complexities, she is about adjectives:

The support ratings of both Mr Chen and the DPP have plummeted in the past year following revelations of rampant corruption among people close to the president.

Not just corruption -- rampant corruption (where's the editor in all this?). Hmmm....if a US$185,000 coupon deal is "rampant corruption," I wonder what she would call a US$400 million kickback? Think words would fail her? As the editorial above noted of the "Pan-Green supporters" Hille referred to:

The traces of political manipulation are everywhere to be seen. First, an academic at the Academia Sinica and one of the drafters of the statement who is definitely not a pan-green supporter was described as standing close to the pan-green camp, because both the media and the supporters of the party-state complex like to see pan-green supporters lashing out at their own camp.

A China Post article on the issue is here. The article notes:

But lawmaker Lee Chun-yi, who represents law makers from the DPP's Welfare State faction, labeled the academics "egg heads working in an ivory tower".

"They don't understand the kind of political crisis that could be triggered by Chen's resignation," Lee said. "By refusing to quit and staying in the post, the president is also showing he is taking his responsibility in history."


Sun Bin said...

you are just a careless reader as i am :)

she said "SUPPORTERS of Taiwan’s ruling party", which is not the same as "the ruling party".
her description is very accurate. how else would you translate pan-green sympathizer, without going to explain what 'green' means/etc.

Tim Maddog said...

The above commenter is indeed a "careless reader."

The quote from the first sentence of the article mentions "supporters," but the headline of the article, as Michael says (and as the above commenter would have known if he had cared to follow the link), is "Taiwan's ruling party calls for Chen to quit" -- not "supporters of..."

Michael then goes on to rhetorically ask "Are the group of 15 really all DPP supporters?" Naturally, he then provides even the most careless of readers with the answer:
- - - of the drafters of the statement who is definitely not a pan-green supporter was described as standing close to the pan-green camp...
- - -

I'd have to reply, "Only one?"

I saw the press conference in question as it was broadcast live, and it looked like the "reporters" provided their own "applause" sound effects. Can you say "pan-blue media"?

Spot the difference between a "careless reader" and a blogger who cares enough about the truth to have already provided details plus the links to verify them.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

You are way cuter when not talking about politics.

Karl said...

Um, everyone in the whole world is cuter when not talking about politics.

Scott Sommers said...

Having meet Kathrin Hille, I am less sure that this is intentional anti-Chen propaganda. There's a lot of carelessness in journalism in general and in Taiwan journalism in particular. Most English-language coverage of Taiwan is done by non-specialists. I don't know if this is more prominent in news covering education, but I can say that the Taipei Times writers show not even the slightest evidence of basic knowledge about education policy or language teaching.

Michael Turton said...

Scott, if it was just this article, it would be no problem. But every single thing she writes is this way. Read this one for example. Or this one. I stopped blogging on her because she is so clearly and joyfully pro-KMT. I suspect it is her personally, and not just her sources.


Jerome said...

Keep their feet to the fire Michael.

Tim Maddog said...

Scott wrote:
- - -
Most English-language coverage of Taiwan is done by non-specialists.
- - -

Michael beat me to it, but to add to his reply, how do you think "reporters" like Hille (who is hardly a newbie when it comes to Taiwan issues) get all the same wrong information, and why are these "mistakes" biased against the DPP? I think there's a clue in the second half of my rhetorical question.

BTW, the appearance of that anonymous bit above Scott's comment seems to just reinforce the point about those so-called "pan-green" academics not being pan-green at all.

Tim Maddog