Sunday, November 16, 2014

Taiwan Sovereignty Moments in the media: AP and BBC

Let sleeping dogs...

BBC with another one of those stupid travel pieces that the government uses to push its propaganda. There's just plain bad writing....
Not one to take on a gruelling one-day cycling challenge with more than 100km of elevation myself –
She means that it is over 100 kms of climbing, but writes as if Wuling were 100 kms high. Sometimes it does feel that way... The government wants to push Sun Moon Lake, so travel writers are always taken there. As my man Drew from Taiwan in Cycles: The Sun Moon Lake bike trail is a trail for non-cyclists. It is boring, stupid, and dangerous...

More seriously, the writer urks up some KMT propaganda:
Reopened in 2008 as a cycling path, the former railway was used between 1924 and 1945, during the time that Japan occupied the island nation. Before, Taiwan was governed by China, which regained control in 1945 and has regarded Taiwan as a Chinese autonomous territory ever since.
The KMT wants people to use the term "occupy" because it wants to establish the idea that Japan's control was not legit (it was legitimated by treaties between power and never seen as "occupied" by outsiders) and that it was merely a regrettable interlude in an unbroken chain of "Chinese" control stretching no doubt back to the paleolithic era. Thus the use of the term "regained control" -- which implies that China resumed rule over Taiwan, but of course as readers of this blog know -- and sometimes they seem like the only people in the world who do -- the status of Taiwan remains undetermined under international law. The ROC merely administrates the island.

Kudos to the writer for using "island nation". But observe that the BBC piece takes the patently pro-China position of telling the reader what China thinks, but not equally noting that Taiwan doesn't want to be part of China. Why even mention what China's position is? What does that have to do with bike travel in Taiwan?

The question of why reporters don't look this stuff up -- why it isn't in style handbooks and so forth -- acquired a particular urgency this week as AP screwed up the US position again, reporting that the US says Taiwan is part of China, when in fact it does not say that. I blogged on that below.

AP responded by waiting a couple of days (the last time it took hours) and then correcting it. I cannot find the article on the AP website so it looks like it has been taken down completely. It is no longer hosted at some on-line venues, though it must be in print editions (argh). Instead, online, both the AP site and some other sites host this retraction. I quote from WaPo:
Under these declarations and law, the United States has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled. The U.S. acknowledges China’s view that Taiwan is part of its territory but it does not explicitly recognize China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, nor does it recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.
Oddly, the Congressional Research Service report on US-Taiwan policy I sent them says:
Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled.
AP repeats the unsettled grammatical style of "has considered Taiwan's status as unsettled" (why not just "considers"?). At least AP picked a reliable source to borrow from; Kan and Morrison do great work.

Unfortunately the AP response was too slow. As many of us feared, President Ma, never one to miss a chance to mislead the unwary on US policy, jumped right on it, muddying the waters. Next time, faster, AP....
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