Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Difference Between Media and Bloggers

Relaxing at 7-11 in Kenting with whiskey and cokes after a hard day of riding.

On the 15th, Reuters published this article on the low probability of F-16 sales to Taiwan. Though the article was mostly ok, there were a couple of things:
The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 and recognizes Beijing's "one China" policy. But it is also Taiwan's biggest ally and arms supplier and is duty-bound by legislation to help the island in the event of attack.
This is a clear error; the US does not recognize Beijing's One China policy. The US "One China" policy doesn't include Taiwan.

Several of us dropped them a note to point this out.

There is some disagreement among us Taiwan supporters over how to interpret the TRA; a careful reading will show that it does not bind the US to anything in the event Taiwan is attacked. However, there is a widespread belief that the TRA does commit the US to helping Taiwan in the event of a Chinese assault; such beliefs may lead to miscalculation. Might also be the subject of a good investigative news report: what does the TRA actually mean?

Reuters also said:
Taiwan has repeatedly asked Washington to agree to sell it the advanced F-16 fighter jets, citing the need to counter the growing military strength of China, which views the island as a breakaway province.
Note that this is both biased and unbalanced. It is biased in that its report of China's desire to annex Taiwan is couched in Beijing's language: "breakaway province" though Taiwan was a province of a Manchu state for just nine years (terminating in 1895), was never entirely controlled by the Qing, and was never ruled by any ethnic Chinese emperor. Taiwan is not a "breakaway province" but a territory Beijing wants to annex based on a politically slanted reconstruction of history. Wouldn't it be better to take a neutral stance on how Beijing views Taiwan? ADDED: First anon below disagrees.

And the imbalance -- this rendition of The Formula also does not report how Taiwan feels about China -- shouldn't it have been balanced with a report that almost no one in Taiwan wants to be annexed to the PRC?

Skipping over the imbalances and interpretations, the error in the first paragraph noted above is quite clear. However, it has been three days now and still no fix in sight.

ADDED: maddog as always, has the right words
Here's the "One China" policy of the US as described on p. 3 of the August 4, 2011 CRS report [PDF]:
- - -
U.S. “One China” Policy
The United States has its own position on Taiwan’s status. Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled.
Let's see if they issue a correction.
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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reuters also said:
Taiwan has repeatedly asked Washington to agree to sell it the advanced F-16 fighter jets, citing the need to counter the growing military strength of China, which views the island as a breakaway province.
Note that this is both biased and unbalanced. It is biased in that its report of China's desire to annex Taiwan is couched in Beijing's language: "breakaway province" though Taiwan was a province of a Manchu state for just nine years (terminating in 1895), was never entirely controlled by the Qing, and was never ruled by any ethnic Chinese emperor. Taiwan is not a "breakaway province" but a territory Beijing wants to annex based on a politically slanted reconstruction of history. Wouldn't it be better to take a neutral stance on how Beijing views Taiwan?

And the imbalance -- this rendition of The Formula also does not report how Taiwan feels about China -- shouldn't it have been balanced with a report that almost no one in Taiwan wants to be annexed to the PRC?


Biased - Not really because it says "China which views ...." That clearly demonstrates that it is China's opinion not necessarily anyone else's. It'd be biased if it stated that Taiwan was a breakaway province but it clearly doesn't. It states that it's China's view only.

Unbalanced - Again, no. Saying "citing the need to counter the growing military threat" quite clearly shows Taiwan's view. If the Taiwan government and people weren't opposed to unification / annexation, then there'd be no fear of a military threat.

Readin said...

The word "recognize" doesn't imply agreement, at least not to me. The Shanghai Communique of 1972 says "the United States acknowledges that Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States does not challenge that position." To my knowledge we've never repudiated the stupidity of ignoring the position of the majority of the people of Taiwan, "recognizes" isn't bad compared to the mistakes other news sources commonly make (like claiming the US "accepts" Beijing's one-policy).

"Taiwan has repeatedly asked Washington to agree to sell it the advanced F-16 fighter jets, citing the need to counter the growing military strength of China, which views the island as a breakaway province."

You make some good points, but at least it does say "Taiwan" and "China" rather than "Taiwan" and "the mainland" or some of the other nonsense descriptions commonly seen.

I guess I'm a glass is half-full kind of guy.

Michael Turton said...

Biased - Not really because it says "China which views ...." That clearly demonstrates that it is China's opinion not necessarily anyone else's. It'd be biased if it stated that Taiwan was a breakaway province but it clearly doesn't. It states that it's China's view only.

It isn't China's "view" though. That is only their propagandistic description of their own action. That is why i dislike it so much. Their actual "view" is that Taiwan is a territory ripe for annexation.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts—as is often pointed out, the TRA was the result of careful compromises, and for a number of reasons was left intentionally vague on certain points.

But experience shows us that the actual, real-world effect of particular policies, 'doctrines', etc. often has more to do with how those policies come to be interpreted in political circles, than with the actual content of the documents. So, regardless of what the document says or doesn't say, it does matter quite a lot how the policy comes to be interpreted by news services, by the CCP, and in the conventional wisdom of political leaders.

But if push comes to shove, what the document actually obliges the U.S. to do will be interpreted very literally.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't really matter what the TRA says because there's almost no chance China will attack Taiwan. As long as there are no unilateral changes to the status quo, things will just continue as business as usual. There've been no changes under the Ma administration and Tsai's policy is more or less the same in that regard, so the risk is almost non-existent.

Michael Turton said...

...as long as there are no unilateral changes to the status quo

What do you think the military build up in China is?

Also, China's military build up is aimed at the Senkakus and the South China Sea. A direct attack to annex Taiwan is NOT the only reason Taiwan may become involved in a conflict with China....

Anonymous said...

The change in the status quo has been from Taiwan, China and the USA.

Ma and his policies have been some of the chief drivers of this change.


Anon-XYZ-PDQ-BIL

Tim Maddog said...

If Reuters' reporters/editors could read English beyond a 2nd grade level, then they'd be able to figure out that what they wrote is totally wrong—especially since "Several of us dropped them a note to point this out."

Here's the "One China" policy of the US as described on p. 3 of the August 4, 2011 CRS report [PDF]:
- - -
U.S. “One China” Policy

The United States has its own position on Taiwan’s status. Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled.

- - -

Tim Maddog

FOARP said...

@Tim Maddog -

"If Reuters' reporters/editors could read English beyond a 2nd grade level . . ."

Yeah, because Reuters, AP, AFP etc. all need you to come on board as editorissimo. Keep waiting by the phone, I'm sure they'll call someday!

Anonymous said...

USA relationship with "Taiwan" began when USA was pressured into dropping ties with RoC and began to refer to them instead as Taiwan, which doesn't mean ROC ceased to exist. Reuters definitely made a mistake