Sunday, July 12, 2009

FAIL: NY Times Interactive Map of China's Minorities

My thanks to the commenter who alerted me to this brilliant NY Times interactive map of "China's" "minorities." While the map is indeed interactive, there off the coast is the island of Taiwan, which, as everyone knows, is not at present part of China, lurking as if it were, indeed, a satrapy of Beijing. Taiwan is apparently unpeopled, for moving the mouse over it produces no lecture on the island's "minorities", whatever they may be. Apparently the NY Times was bold enough to annex Taiwan to China, but lacked the steely ones to actually describe what kind of people live on The Beautiful Isle. Of course, no other territory claimed by China and hosting actual human beings, such as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, is shown on the map as part of "China."*

Great work, NY Times.

UPDATE: Ok, so Taiwan was gray. That was positive....

UPDATE: Taiwan has now been removed. Amen. Thanks very much, guys.

*In case you think Beijing's claim to Arunachal Pradesh is a joke, read this post....

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10 comments:

Thomas said...

I don't know, Michael. I would not be so critical of the New York Times this time. The problem is that Taiwan's constitution claims that the island is a part of China, and the ruling party vigorously backs this claim. This is not the case in Arunachal Pradesh, or on the South China Sea islands (which don't have indiginous populations who can claim anything).

I would note, to the NYT's credit, that Taiwan is on the outline, but they at least painted it grey. There is a separation implied on the map. This would be far more troubling if the NYT actually did include all of Taiwan's ethnic groups without any indicator of separation. Until someone is in power in Taiwan who actually is not afraid to stand up for Taiwan's independent nature, or until the official name of the country changes, the NYT can simply tell you that they have technically done no wrong.

Michael Turton said...

It's not Taiwan's constitution but the ROC's ;).

yes, they did at least paint it gray, which was good. I should give them a verbal pat for that.

Michael

Raj said...

Michael, you'll note that Taiwan is grey and unmarked if you switch to geography. Even if it begs the question why to include it anyway, it doesn't seem to have been "annexed".

Adam said...

It seems they have put some thought into the best way to pander to both sides. For those who say Taiwan is part of China, there it is on the map. For those who say it isn't, it has no label whatsoever, whereas other places in China do.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan appears to have been removed from the map, no doubt thanks to the number of people who wrote in to complain.

Michael Turton said...

Good!

Anonymous said...

Great job Michael, I'm sure your publicity helped to right this idiocy.

But I disagree with Thomas and others. I think it's still wrong to describe Taiwan as a part of China when the vast majority of Taiwanese don't think it is and the government of Taiwan has long ignored the provisions that imply that China is a part of the ROC or the name ROC itself. Even Ma Ying-jeou doesn't introduce himself as the president of the ROC abroad in English, because he knows everyone will either think he's crazy or have no idea what he's talking about.

There are actually a lot of strange things in Taiwan's constitution, and it's not up to the NYTimes to start interpreting what's active and what's not. Besides, if it were up to Taiwan's laws, why aren't China's laws taken into account?

The fact is, independent of this world of declarations, threats, and official blusterings, Taiwan has functioned for a very long time as an independent country, and it holds true democratic elections that legitimize this rule both domestically, and for those people elsewhere with a conscience, abroad as well. The military is still functioning, the borders are (mostly) secure. From the perspective of REALITY and CONSCIENCE, Taiwan is not a part of China in any way.

Anonymous said...

One more point: The graying out legitimizes including Taiwan on maps of China, and that in itself is highly dangerous. That's the whole theory behind China's claims to Taiwan isn't it? That China is some monolithic, essentialist, never-changing meta-entity that can never be altered, even if Taiwan is "temporarily" not a part of China. It's the legitimizing of these outlandish claims based on some meta-world of "what-the-world-really-really-looks-like".

Anyways, props to the New York Times made the right move and owning up to their mistake.

Anonymous said...

Great, now the Washington Post is doing the same thing.

Michael Turton said...

ROFL. They mark Taiwan's aborigines as "Indonesian" a gross error.