Saturday, April 07, 2012

When is AP going to stop?

AP published a short report on President Ma's cancellation of a portion of his African trip...it contained AP's inaccurate and indefensible rendering of The Formula:
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949. Twenty-three nations, including Sao Tome and Principe, formally recognize Taiwan.
I can't understand why it is so difficult for AP to accurately represent these relationships. Why the obstinate refusal to describe the actual situation instead of constantly and repeatedly lying about it?

Once more, with feeling...

The ROC/KMT and the PRC/Chinese Communist Party split in 1949. Taiwan could not split from China because Taiwan was part of Japan in 1949, not part of China, a fact which is easily available in any good history and which AP of course knows, since it has been publicly and privately informed of this fact on many occasions. Taiwan would remain part of Japan until April of 1952 at which point the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, Japan gave up its sovereignty over Taiwan, and Taiwan's status is now undetermined. That is official US policy, and the policy of all the other major powers save Beijing and Paris. Taiwan and China were not having a civil war nor was Taiwan part of China, as the first sentence appears to say. Nothing in this statement is factually accurate.

The second sentence is even worse. 23 countries recognize the ROC government on Taiwan as the government of China under the One China rubric in which Taiwan is part of China. No power on earth recognizes "Taiwan" -- there is no "Taiwan" as an independent nation. No one can recognize Taiwan!

No wonder Americans have trouble with foreign policy; their media reporting is awful. AP has been corrected on this nonsense dozens of times. It remains obdurate.

It is not difficult to frame accurate representations:

"Both the PRC and the ROC government on Taiwan claim to be the government of China, and claim Taiwan is a part of China. This latter position is rejected by most of the major powers, including the US, and by the majority of the people of Taiwan, who do not want to be part of China."

Or

"The position that the ROC on Taiwan is the sole government of China is recognized by 23 nations. The US and most major powers do not take the position that Taiwan is part of China. Most people on Taiwan do not want to be part of China."

Or... write your own.
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25 comments:

apple said...

China claims the former Japanese colony and now de facto independent nation of Taiwan and threatens to take control of it by force. A majority of the people in democratic Taiwan consistently oppose unification with China.

Tim Maddog said...

"[D]ozens of times"? More like hundreds or thousands! I've corrected AP "dozens of times" all by myself.

Readers can peruse several improved formulations I and a few others offered on the Blogspot edition of Letters from Taiwan back in the summer of 2009.

Tim Maddog

A realist said...

Taiwan was a Chinese province before Japanese rule, you know that, right? It's like you constantly take 1895 as year zero, so everything before Japan's occupation does not matter to the current status?

I once respected you, valued your opinion. But your (and Tim's) arguments are getting weaker by the year. We saw with your election predictions, that you are no expert on the matter anymore. Maybe you two could stop spamming the blogosphere with your false propaganda. AP might be sloppy, but you are definitely, too. In the end you all make the world more confused about these matters and it's even harder for people outside Taiwan to understand the status.

Michael Turton said...

Taiwan was a Chinese province before Japanese rule, you know that, right? It's like you constantly take 1895 as year zero, so everything before Japan's occupation does not matter to the current status?

Sorry, what on earth prompted this outburst? Before Japan, which did not "occupy" Taiwan but had sovereignty over it, Taiwan was an independent state for a couple of months. Before that the lowlands were a holding of the Manchu Empire. WTF does this have to do with the post above?

Michael

Michael Turton said...

"[D]ozens of times"? More like hundreds or thousands! I've corrected AP "dozens of times" all by myself.

It's sad, actually.

Danke Schoen said...

"Taiwan was a Chinese province before Japanese rule, you know that, right? It's like you constantly take 1895 as year zero, so everything before Japan's occupation does not matter to the current status?"

Um, 1895 is a good starting point because the fact that China ceded Taiwan to Japan cannot be disputed by China. If you want to play the "starting point" argument then why not go back 4000 years when Taiwan was originally settled by aborigines.

Marc said...

Though I agree with you that AP oversimplifies to save column space and adds to the lack of clarity, but isn't AP using Taiwan and China as metonyms? I think this was brought up before.

yankdownunder said...

Just curious.

AP is not the only one that does this. Is this different from
older reporting on Taiwan? Is this
due to Chinese economic status now?
Did reports before 2000 get it right?

Anonymous said...

I think it's really counter-productive to focus so much on that formula. It's like those people who are like, Bohr's Atomic Model is SOOOO WRONG, OMG WTF!!!!111

They are right, but they also look quite pedantic.

Ben Goren said...

@A Realist - Seeing as you seem to have a penchant for utilising history to sow your quisling seeds of sino-colonialism, here's some history:

~ 1642: Taiwan inhabited by Indigenous peoples. Evidence of trade with populations in mainland Asia. Taiwan is the site of multiple nations.

1642 - 1661: Parts of west Taiwan occupied and administered by Dutch

1661 - 1682: Parts of west Taiwan occupied and administered by Koxinga and son.

1683 ~ 1885: Most of west and north Taiwan occupuied and administered Qing Dynasty. Taiwan named a prefecture in 1875.

1885 ~ 1895: Taiwan named a Province of Qing Dynasty.

1895: Treaty of Shimonoseki cedes Taiwan in perpetuity to Japan. Japan has internationally recognised sovereignty.

1895: Brief Taiwan Republic is last gasp effort of remaining Qing loyalists in north Taiwan to build resistance to Japanese.

1895 ~ 1952: Japanese retain sovereignty over Taiwan.

1952 ~ present: Republic of China in exile on Taiwan. Colonial occupation of 1945 transforms into permanent occupation. KMT administers Taiwan for purpose of continuing claim to be legitimate government of China.

Readin said...

Perhaps the AP should write this:

"Although the two governments separated in 1949, recently Taiwanese voters elected by proxy to maintain the separate from China in the short term while preparing for peaceful annexation in the not too distant future."

Andrew Kerslake said...

Good job Ben!

It is subjective as to where one chooses to begin claims of "ownership". You could even go so far as to state that 6000B.C.E-1624 A.C.E. Taiwan was under the control of competing groups of Austronesian peoples.

Readin said...

"Um, 1895 is a good starting point because the fact that China ceded Taiwan to Japan cannot be disputed by China. If you want to play the "starting point" argument then why not go back 4000 years when Taiwan was originally settled by aborigines."

I think that in matters of disputed sovereignty, you need to have a good reason for going back more than one lifetime. Who was alive in 1895, or in 1663, or 4000 years ago, who is still alive today? Why should our decisions of sovereignty be bound by them?

This isn't like morals where the wisdom of thousands of years accumulates. This is deciding on borders. The wisdom history gives us doesn't always tell us where the borders should be, it tells us that we shouldn't steal and that we should respect people's right to self-determination.

Looking as far back as the Japanese era and the Chinese occupation that began in 1945 - including the 228 incident - makes some sense, but it makes less and less sense everyday as the generation that suffered through it dies off.

It makes more sense to look at the martial law era that lasted until 1987, but even that makes a little less sense as time goes by (has it really been 25 years???)

Instead, we must look to the people's right to self-determination. And much to my dismay and even disgust, they have chosen the way of bondage, to throw away the freedoms so many people suffered for.

All that is left to do is to try to talk some sense into our Taiwanese friends - and the only way I know to do that is to confront them with the reality of their decision.

D said...

Return California to the Mexicans.
I mean seriously - then how about Tibet? How far do we want to go to what belongs to who? When it serves our purpose?

Former D said...

Someone has taken my pseudonym. I guess anonymity does have its hazards after all.

Anonymous said...

"Return California to the Mexicans."

Mexico only had claim over the space known as California as a spoil of their War of Independence. It was not the traditional territory of the Mexicans....

...whereas Tibet is the traditional land of the Tibetans.

Now, return California (and parts of Nevada, Oregon and Baja California) to the over 100 native tribes - but then THEN you may have a justifiable analogy.

FOARP said...

"Taiwan was part of Japan in 1949"

Err . . you mean Japan claimed Taiwan at that point - Japan no longer excercised any effective government over the Japanese homeland at that point, still less Taiwan. At this point, Taiwan was also was also claimed by the the R.O.C.

As usual, my point is not to say that the ROC point of view is necessarily correct, but that any version of events you would wish to put forward as exclusively correct ("Taiwan was Japanese in 1949") can easily be countered with another.

Michael Turton said...

As usual, my point is not to say that the ROC point of view is necessarily correct, but that any version of events you would wish to put forward as exclusively correct ("Taiwan was Japanese in 1949") can easily be countered with another.

As usual, your point is simply to waste everyone's time trolling.

you mean Japan claimed Taiwan at that point

No, I mean that Japanese sovereignty over Taiwan was recognized in the system of international law and postwar treaties. Only Chinese expansionists claim otherwise.

Michael

FOARP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
B.Y. said...

"Taiwan's status is now undetermined"

Didn't the United States acknowledge PRC's position that Taiwan is part of China in the January 1, 1979 Communique?

Michael Turton said...

No, the US acknowledges that the Chinese hold the position that Taiwan is part of China. They do not recognize it.

Michael

B.Y. said...

I don't believe that's the majority view. Although the word "acknowledge" is used, it is taken to mean that the United States government will not challenge that position. It is also a position of the US government that the issue of Taiwan will have to be resolved by the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Michael Turton said...

don't believe that's the majority view.

...then you need to read up on the issue. That is the official position of the US and has been since 1952. Start with this Congressional Research Service report:

https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R41952.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.
Since a declaration by President Truman on June 27, 1950, during the Korean War, the United
States has supported a future determination of the island’s status in a peaceful manner. The United
States did not explicitly state the sovereign status of Taiwan in the three U.S.-PRC Joint
Communiques of 1972, 1979, and 1982. The United States “acknowledged” the “one China”
position of both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Washington has not promised to end arms sales to
Taiwan for its self-defense, although the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954 terminated on December
31, 1979. U.S. policy does not support or oppose Taiwan’s independence; U.S. policy takes a
neutral position of “non-support” for Taiwan’s independence. U.S. policy leaves the Taiwan
question to be resolved by the people on both sides of the strait: a “peaceful resolution,” with the
assent of Taiwan’s people in a democratic manner, and without unilateral changes. In short, U.S.
policy focuses on the process of resolution of the Taiwan question, not any set outcome. "

B.Y. said...

Thanks for the link but that's the superficial reading of the policy statement. Whether a policy statement can be taken at face value, one needs to look at how it is practiced. Many have expounded what US's One China Policy is in real life, for example, "It is commitment not to challenge the claim that there is “one China” of which Taiwan is a part, and to act consistent with that proposition to the extent possible, but it is not an active embracing of that position. That means no support for “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.” It means maintaining only unofficial relations with the people of
Taiwan, but includes robust, wide-ranging interaction, including even the sale of carefully selected defensive weapons and equipment and other exchanges relating to
Taiwan’s security." (http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/pac0745.pdf)

In short, how the US government acted shapes the meaning of the word "acknowledge" and the US government acted in a way that gives credence to PRC's claim to the point it is very close to recognizing it. And since then, the rest of the world has followed suit.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, BY