Interesting facts: as the KMT papers are crowing, Yu Shen, the firm at the center of the DEHP scandal, is named after the son of the owner of the firm, whose name in Mandarin is Yu Shen. The son himself works as a reporter at the Taipei Times under his name in Taiwanese.
That has nothing to do with this post. But I thought, in case you didn't know, that you'd like to.
You know how the Establishment media has worked hard to put forth the idea that Ma Ying-jeou has "reduced tensions" after the nightmarish Presidency of Chen Shui-bian, in which tensions climbed as Taiwanese investment in China soared, the air route between Hong Kong and Taipei was the busiest in the world, and Taiwanese businessmen moved to China by the thousand. With those nightmare years in mind I was surfing the Net the other day and found this piece from Reuters:
Tensions between China and Taiwan have diminished even as Beijing moves rapidly to modernize its military with ballistic missiles capable of striking U.S. naval forces, U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte said on Thursday.When was that reported? In Jan of 2007. That was an ANNUAL REVIEW of 2006. Now that Eastasia is at war with Oceania, 2006 must surely have been hellish year of rising tension, one of the eight years of tension during the Chen Administration, in which tension rose more often than the Sun.
"(Chinese) leaders continue to emphasize development of friendly relations with the states on China's periphery to assure peaceful borders," Negroponte said in his annual assessment of world threats facing the United States and its allies.
Another item gone AWOL: an important driver of tension in the 2005 period was China's "Anti-Secession Law" which caused a huge jump in Cross-Strait tensions. It has basically vanished from pithy descriptions of those days in the current media reports. As Mark Harrison noted in Aug of 2005, this jolt in tension was due to Beijing...
The months since the re-election of Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian have seen a rise in tensions across the Taiwan Straits. The softer line which the Chinese government had adopted during Chen’s previous term has been seen to fail with the election result, and there has been a noticible shift in policy and much stronger rhetoric coming out of China.If you read a bunch of stories on "tension" you'll soon see how much of the perception of "tension" is due to the media's constant insertion of that word into issues or disagreements where it does not belong.
There are (endless) examples of reporters referring to tensions that never occurred, like this piece from June of 2006. The headline refers to "Taiwan Tension" by which it appears to refer the domestic turmoil, but then this paragraph pops up:
Taiwan's stock market dropped more than 3% on Tuesday, before Chen delivered his speech, as investors feared that the president might made some strongly worded statements to provoke mainland China and heighten tensions across the strait.Love the pro-KMT construction in the second paragraph, but note that the "tension" never actually occurred. If the media constant inserts the word "tension" into articles, eventually people start associating it with the China-Taiwan relationship. Remember the savage atmosphere of 2003? CNN reported:
However, Chen focused on counterattacking the opposition parties' charges against him. Analysts said this suggested that in his remaining two years in office, Chen could no longer rely on manipulating cross-strait ties, as he has done before, to divert public attention from domestic problems. Thus cross-strait relations should remain relatively stable.
Taiwan Strait tensions on the up
What was really going on? That was when Chen Shui-bian was holding a referendum on the nuke plant, and Beijing claimed it was a dry run for a referendum on independence. Yes, the purely internal matter of building a power plant was enough for Beijing to pout (it also shows how Beijing gets instant media buy-in whenever it says the pro-Taiwan side is being provocative). But then the piece goes on to report, repeatedly, that China is remaining "restrained"...
Diplomatic analysts in Beijing said the new leadership under President Hu Jintao had responded to these developments in a relative restrained manner.So again the headline uses the Awful T-word but then goes on to describe the opposite in reality.
Apart from fairly routine protests made by the Foreign Ministry and the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), the analysts said senior cadres had refrained from making intimidating statements about the consequences of Chen's pro-independence game-plan.
"Chen is upping the ante in his pro-independence moves to boost his popularity among native-Taiwanese voters in Taiwan," said a Chinese source close to Beijing's Taiwan policy-making establishment.
"The leadership knows it will be playing into Chen's hands if it were to rattle the saber."
Consider this headline from Reuters:
Tension rises as China-Taiwan flight pact hits bumps
Oh noes! What happened? Is the bombing to start immediately? Do I have time to get my bicycle to a safe place? The paper describes the descent into the maelstrom:
China and Taiwan face a widening dispute over scheduling of direct flights, an important factor behind $100 billion in two-way trade, raising tension between old foes just weeks after they signed a massive trade pact.
But what really happened? Inside the report is this:
The flap could cool a climate of goodwill associated with most China-Taiwan deals including a free trade-style pact signed in June, the biggest tie-up ever between economic powerhouse China and tech-reliant Taiwan.
It....COULD cool the goodwill. It....COULD cause my nostrils to emit large furry fictional horned equines as well. Reuters is reporting "news" before it happens, and using the word "tension" where it is totally unjustified. Indeed, "tension" did not occur. When does this report date from?
Yeah, remember that awful July of 2010, where we were constantly running off to bomb shelters as tensions rose between Beijing and its ally Ma Ying-jeou? Funny, because the 2010 I remember was filled with praise for Ma Ying-jeou for "lowering tensions" across the Taiwan Strait.
"Tension" in the Strait is in large part a media trope. It gets trundled out whether the story deserves it or not. It is such a reflex that, as the story above shows, the media inserts it zombie-style even into Ma Administration stories.
It should also be noted that Ma inherited a situation of "lowered" tension. Anyone recall the terrible Cross-Strait tension of 2007 and 2008 (2008 US NIE assessment)? Like so many other things, Mr Ma is just taking credit for low hanging fruit that had already been set out for him to pluck.
- Chinese hackers target Google. Again.
- Letters from Taiwan on The Problem With Tsai.
- ISI: No indictments over wrongful execution.
- Richard Fisher: New aircraft critical to Taiwan's security.
- China's water problems: it's all Three Gorges' fault. That dam also hurt the fishing grounds of Taiwanese fisherman off China.
- Pinyin News on an upgrade to Google's Pinyin converter.
- Dapeng Lagoon travel.
- Don't miss: James Holmes with yet another excellent piece on the new phrase for abandoning Asia: "offshore balancing". The Asian states will not attempt to shore up their defenses. Instead they will seek accommodation with China if we quietly pull back. A US draw down will signal decline; Asians smell political carrion as fast as anyone.
[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! Delenda est, baby.