Monday, May 04, 2009

From the Department of Manufactured News

I wish the DPP would stop the slamming of the WHA invitation -- which they themselves worked to achieve -- and take a more co-opting approach: "nice work in realizing our goal, Mr. KMT." Take credit for it, and give the occasional warning...

...AP's Peter Enav was the subject of an assault from the KMT for spoiling the Party's official line that the invitation was due to international pressure....
Ma held a news conference on Wednesday to break the news, saying participation in this year’s WHA was a result of Taiwan’s perseverance, China’s goodwill and support from the international community.
Enav had reported for the AP that the whole thing was due to negotiations with China. The Taipei Times report noted:
Government Information Office Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) yesterday said AP should improve the quality of its reporting.

He said the original AP report had been cited by local media and that resulting damage to the ­government “was not minor.”

“To be honest, we were very troubled by the report … We think that such a professional news outlet should demand its news coverage achieve a certain quality,” Su said.

AP has not responded to the government’s demand. On Friday, Peter Enav, the report’s author and head of AP’s Taiwan bureau, declined to comment when contacted by the Taipei Times.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday reiterated that Taiwan’s accession to the WHA as an observer was the result of direct consultation with the WHO and not via Beijing.

But the Central News Agency (CNA) on Thursday quoted WHO spokesman Thomas Abraham as saying that the WHO had no involvement whatsoever in negotiations and that the director-general issued the invitation to Taiwan only after she was notified of the outcome of cross-strait negotiations.
In fact the previous day the Taipei Times had published a piece detailing this:

The WHO had zero involvement in Taiwan’s World Health Assembly (WHA) bid and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan’s (陳馮富珍) decision to invite Taiwan to be an observer at this year’s meeting came only after she was “notified” of the result of cross-strait negotiations, the world health body’s spokesman Thomas Abraham said.

“There’s no negotiation with the WHO. The WHO was not involved at all,” Abraham was quoted as saying by Central News Agency (CNA) reports filed from Geneva. He added that he did not know whether the director-general was notified by one or both parties of the outcome of the cross-strait talks.

The WHO spokesman’s remarks contradict statements from Department of Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川), who said yesterday in Taipei that Taiwan’s participation in this year’s WHA was the result of direct communication between Taiwan and the WHO, which did not go through China.
Obviously the KMT government is trying to play down the fact that (once again) they are owned by China. But the continuing appearance of this minor issue at the forefront of the news says to me that they are also perhaps trying to shift the focus from the recent talks in Nanjing, where things did not turn up rosy for them, or from some other thing that doesn't reflect well on the government. A common formula for manufactured news stories is Criticize the Foreigner. The criticism of AP's Enav -- a foreigner, thus pressing whatever xenophobic buttons are out there to be pressed -- a day after the government's own Central News Agency had reported the same story Enav did -- is just a way to create fake news to dominate the headlines. After all, why didn't they publically chastise the CNA for the original story?

Kudos to Enav for remaining silent and not stirring the pot further.

Also salient here is the remark that the AP's report was cited by the local media and did damage. Taiwanese and their media appear to consider external media reports to have more weight, and be validating, in a way that local media reports are not.

_______________________
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!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"We think that such a professional news outlet should demand its news coverage achieve a certain quality,"

In other words, "how dare you actually investigate the event, rather than use the press release we always send you."

Anonymous said...

But I'm not sure what joining the WHA under the name Chinese Taipei, needing to be renewed year-on-year, and done only with the permission of China, achieves. Taiwan needs to become a permanent member of the WHO, but if it requires permission on the part of China, that sets a very poor precedent for future interactions both with the WHO and other international organizations.

Taiwan's problems in the past have been because they aren't a member of the WHO and haven't gotten data promptly and were listed as a part of China and a SARS infected area long after it had already been controlled.

Ma is being an idiot spinning this as some great achievement. China's going to look at this and say, wow, that's all it took to make you so giddy? Not pointing out that participation in international organizations is the NORMAL state of affairs makes it that much harder to get international acceptance for anything else.

Feiren said...

As many pro-Taiwan bloggers and media have already pointed out, Xinhua published the following

A Chinese mainland official said here Thursday that resolving the issue of Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) showed sincerity and goodwill from the mainland.

A spokesman from the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office told Xinhua that allowing Taiwan's participation in the WHA indicated that the mainland attached great importance to the health of Taiwan people.
If Xinhua is reporting that the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said China allowed Taiwanese participation, why can't AP report that China 'approved' Taiwan's participation?

I am actually even more interested in the "sincerity and goodwill" language from the Taiwan Affairs Council since it closely echoes Ma Ying-jeou's quote that Taiwan's WHA participation shows China's shan4yi (goodwill).

Tim Maddog said...

Michael, you wrote:
- - -
I wish the DPP would stop the slamming of the WHA invitation -- which they themselves worked to achieve -- and take a more co-opting approach: "nice work in realizing our goal, Mr. KMT."- - -

First, Taiwan should have been a member of the WHA and WHO all along.

Second, the MOU says that Taiwan must be called "Taiwan, China" for any participation to occur.

Third, while criticizing Enav (who does deserve criticism for so frequently not getting the pro-democracy side right) for not shoving his nose as far up the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) ass as he used to (simply by saying this time that China "approved" Taiwan's WHA entry?!), they're simultaneously thanking China for their "goodwill."See the big contradiction?

Fourth, why is the process so secret? Why can't the KMT even hint at how this "breakthrough" was achieved?

I think the answer to that would go something like this:
- - -
CCP: Here. Have a nice, clean, white flag, and wave it at us. I'll even allow you to have your name on it, "Taiwan, China."

KMT: Thank you for your goodwill! Hey, world! Look what we did!
- - -

BTW, it's not the kind of breakthrough the DPP hoped to achieve: one in which Taiwan's sovereignty would not be further degraded.

So, I think the DPP should continue the slamming of this "invitation" into what should be a public space to begin with. I think even more people should slam it.

Tim Maddog

Thomas said...

"If Xinhua is reporting that the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said China allowed Taiwanese participation, why can't AP report that China 'approved' Taiwan's participation? "

I think Ma and the KMT are used to the newswires reporting their side of the story due to the recent overlapping of the KMT and CCP propaganda machines.

These machines are now slightly unaligned, resulting in news that is stinging the ears of the KMT.

Interestingly enough, a foreign newswire has complicated their message just as they are trying to provide the spin they need to the locals. This makes it that much harder to craft that "victory" message and opens the party to criticism from the DPP just when that "victory" should have tempered that criticism.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks for the great comments, Tim.