You know, I have had educated people claim to me that there is no such thing as the "western media." Maybe "western" is a fraught construction, but it sure is a handy identifier for a common slant that cuts across many media presentations from the...er...west
Let's start with the BBC report:
Thousands of opposition supporters have taken to the streets in Taiwan to protest against President Ma Ying-jeou's policy of engagement with China.The slant is obvious: "Ma" has a policy of "engagement." This phrase accepts the KMT presentation of its policies at face value. Here on earth, Ma is not in charge of China policy, and it is not a policy of "engagement" but a sell-out. Readers will note that not a single western news report has contained a detailed discussion of just what is being conceded to China. If they did, everyone would be able to see through the claims of "engagement" at once (see this post for such details).
Nationalist critics argue the policies threaten to undermine the island's self-rule.
Marchers brace for the long walk.
The second sentence is just weird: what are "Nationalist critics." Nationalists who are critics, or critics who are Nationalists? And which Nationalists, Taiwanese or Chinese? Is that the only possible phrase to describe Taiwan democracy and independence supporters? You can see that if the BBC called the marchers by a correct descriptive like "Taiwan democracy and independence supporters" the pro-Ma slant would instantly fail: Ma would be in opposition to democracy supporters! Can't have that! Hence the political beliefs of the protesters must be concealed. Further down is more slant:
He has also said he will abandon his predecessor's anti-Chinese policies, a position which the opposition says weakens Taiwan's sovereignty.Note that the BBC could have said "pro-Taiwan" or "anti-China" policies. "Anti-Chinese" smacks of an accusation of ethnocentricism: Ma engages China, but Chen is anti-Chinese. The slant doesn't get any clearer than the description of their activities.
It goes without saying that Chen was pro-engagement with China. The DPP was not prepared to engage China at the cost of Taiwan -- Ma is. Simple as that. As a Green friend of mine put it: "We're not there because "talking with China is bad", no one here thinks that. We are there because Ma is a pretty terrible president. Even some light blues showed up yesterday, mad at Ma."
After Sunday's march, participants were expected to hold a sit-in protest for another 24 hours to mark their opposition to government policies.Again the BBC suppresses knowledge of what policies the protesters oppose: the sit in was aimed at the odious new Assembly and Parade Law that is clearly undemocratic. But if the BBC were to provide details of what is being opposed, it would undermine the positive presentation of the Ma government. And of course the piece terminates with the historically incorrect "split from the mainland in 1949." Taiwan did not split from the entire mainland of Asia, the KMT and the CCP split, and in 1949 Taiwan belonged to Japan.
Police filmed the protesters along the entire route.
J. Michael at Far Eastern Sweet Potato ripped a particularly bad AP presentation on the march that came out on Sunday. I commend the reader to the entire thing, but a single remark really stood out for me:
“… Harvard-educated Ma.” No mention is even made of the DPP leader, Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文), who consistently is never referred to as “the London School of Economics-educated Tsai.”There's no such thing as the western media -- it's just an amazing coincidence that all the world's international media based in "western" countries consistently never refer to Tsai as “the London School of Economics-educated Tsai.” That piece was rife with problems that J Michael refrained from discussing. Consider this paragraph:
It was the first large protest against Ma's policies since the Harvard-educated leader took office last May promising to boost Taiwan's sluggish economy and ditch his predecessor's pro-independence, anti-Beijing line.Awright! An error (this was THIRD major protest, hello Aug 30, 2008! Can anyone say "Chen Yunlin?"), the beloved formula of "Harvard-educated Ma" with its subtle elevation of Ma's class status, and regurgitating the KMT propaganda line that the economy was "sluggish." Folks, when Ma took office in May of 2008, the economy was sizzling at 6% growth following on the heels of 5.7% growth in '07. They also end with the "split in 1949" formula, of course. ERRATA: J Michael points out in the comments that I can't get the protest count right either; yesterday's was the FOURTH major rally. ADDITIONAL POINT: Chen's speaking is a line, not a position. How many times have you heard Ma's rhetoric referred to as a line?
AP repeats the "police estimate" of 100,000 which is far too low. It's as low as the Liberty Times' claim that 800,000 people showed up is high. I noted in August 2008 with the last AP lowball that it was policy not to give out estimates. See that whole post for some of the problems in figuring the numbers, but note that the old police formula had 40,000 per km of a wide street. If that is the case, there were easily more than 100K in my section of the march alone. It's not difficult to make a stab at how many were there, especially when you have the resources of the entire internet plus a major news organization to do it. Why not just (truthfully) say: "a few hundred thousand"? As maddog is fond of saying, "who ya gonna believe, the [police], or your lying eyes?"
But you don't have to take my word for it -- just watch this video. I am atop the truck of photographers coming from the Wanhua route and you can get a sense of how the crowd filled the streets. A commenter on the pic thread below this one also observed that many people came directly to Nameinflux Memorial on the MRT, and were present but didn't "march." Send links to more videos, please!
People on the march were totally friendly and happy to see us. Here my son chats with a marcher.
ABC Radio of Australia:
Relations between Taiwan and China, which split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, had hit rock bottom due to the provocative pro-independence rhetoric of Ma's DPP predecessor Chen Shui-bian.ROFL. "Split in 1949" again, and regurgitation of the propaganda line that problems between China and Chen were Chen's fault. It is resistance to China's drive to annex the island that causes trouble, not rhetoric. Poor China! Abused by the rhetoric of the dastardly Chen! During those rock bottom relations, Taiwan sent $150 billion in investment to China, and the busiest air route on earth was between a city in Taiwan and a city in China. The ABC Radio piece is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald and actually does a decent job of presenting the DPP side, but has the same failures as the ABC Radio piece, which alike said:
Nevertheless, they have improved dramatically since Ma's inauguration nearly a year ago.
The DPP said 600,000 people attended the Taipei rally, but city mayor Hau Lung-bin put the turnout at less than 80,000.Note that critical omission: the article does not give the fact that Hau is a KMT politician, something overseas readers are unlikely to know. Believe it or not, there are other information sources on the web, like thousands of photos and videos, that could be checked to ascertain the size of the crowd. Why are they not consulted?
Marchers on the move.
Best headline: DPA says Taiwan opposition demands probe into police CLASH with protestors but the article is about opposition demands to look into the police car CRASH that injured two marchers. Aside from angry demonstrators yelling at the police for removing the guilty cops without breathalyzing them, there was no "police clash with protesters." Yelling is hardly clashing.
Taipei Times has a solid article on it with lots of detail. Great work, guys. Taiwan News also has a good piece, but headlines it with the absurd 600,000 figure. Both have coverage of the Kaohsiung event, neglected in some of the pieces in the foreign media.
How many were there? I'm thinking somewhere between 300 and 500,000 at present, trending toward the upper bound there. As I collect more information and estimates, I'll let you know.
UPDATE: Josambro has video of the sit in the morning after. maddog has video of the NTU hospital route. Eric Chang, who waved a sign at NCKU last year when the PRC envoy visited, made a speech at the protest. Hansouix has video here. Excellent 4 minute video.
UPDATE II: The "Harvard-educated" Ma. There are some excellent comments on this in the Comments below. Let's revisit for a second.
It was the first large protest against Ma's policies since the Harvard-educated leader took office last May promising to boost Taiwan's sluggish economy and ditch his predecessor's pro-independence, anti-Beijing line.Note that here "Harvard-educated Ma" is opposed to the "first large protest." The effect of that, intentional or not, is to elevate Ma's class status vis-a-vis the protesters. What if instead of "Harvard educated", AP had used another formulation:
It was the first large protest against Ma's policies since the long-time opponent of democratization took office last May promising to boost Taiwan's sluggish economy and ditch his predecessor's pro-independence, anti-Beijing line.That will never happen, since the US establishment loves Ma, but as an academic exercise it is interesting to contemplate how much more an amoral technocrat Ma appears in version 2 than in version 1.
Similarly, the western media will never report it, but imagine for a moment if "Harvard-educated Ma" appeared in the following context with something he has actually done:
The Harvard-educated Ma today threatened the island's bureaucracy, saying that the DPP would not always be in power and the bureacracy should remember that and act accordingly.I'm going to run some searches on the "Harvard-educated Ma" and see how many appear in contexts that show him negatively (not that there are so many examples of that....) and see if we can get a sense of when Ma is "Harvard-educated".
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!