Saturday, January 02, 2016

10 Resolutions the International Media Should Make for 2016

Checking the net.

1. Stop calling politicians, protesters, and individuals in Taiwan "anti-China". They are pro-Taiwan.

2. Stop Using the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and similar polls to deprecate support for independence in Taiwan. For example and of course BBC:
Officially, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) still favours eventual independence for Taiwan, while the KMT favours eventual re-unification. Opinion polls show only a small minority of Taiwanese support one or the other, with most preferring to stick with the current middle ground.
Instead use a robust collection of polls to clearly explain how Taiwanese feel, and point out that when given the simple choice, support for independence runs 60-70%, and that support for the status quo de facto independence is high because it is a weak form of independence, not because people haven't made up their minds. Polls that have a "status quo" option are constructed to blur the population's real feelings.

3. Stop refusing to assign agency to cross-strait tensions by referring to them in the passive voice. Tensions do not arise for mysterious reasons: cross-strait tensions are caused by China, not Taiwan, and are a deliberate policy choice of Beijing used to manipulate observers in the US and transfer tension from the Washington-Beijing relationship to the Washington-Taipei relationship. Say that, for pete's sake.

4. Stop saying Beijing passed a law allowing it to attack Taiwan. For example:
The Communist Party, which still considers Taiwan a province, passed a law in 2005 allowing an attack if the island formalizes the split.
It didn't "pass" a law because China is not a democracy where such laws are openly debated and discussed. Further, it was always "allowed" to attack Taiwan; it can attack Taiwan whenever it wants, for any reason it desires. No "law" necessary. The stupidity of this trope should be clear -- imagine this potential conversation from a world without that law:
PLA to CCP: Taiwan has declared independence! Attack!
CCP: Sorry PLA, we don't have any law allowing an attack. We'll just have to let it go.
PLA: %@^#%$!!!
Never mind that if you are going to cite "the law" you should also be pointing out that China is signatory to the UN Declarations and the UN treaty itself that forbids it from using force to settle territorial disputes. Nor would any western media outlet write: "China has passed a law allowing it to imprison, torture, and kill dissidents." This "law" signals China's intentions, nothing more.

I sometimes wonder if the reason so many in the media erroneously write that the Taiwan Relations Act obligates the US to sell arms to Taiwan (it nowhere does that and is designed not to) is because they want a "law" to balance the Anti-Secession "Law".

5. Stop using the "wary" trope to say Taiwanese are "wary" or "skeptical" of China. Say it clearly: Taiwanese reject annexation to China and reject Chinese offers such as the "One Country, Two Systems". They are not wary of China -- millions of them have been there, and zillions of Chinese have visited here.

6. Stop saying Taiwan "provokes" China. China uses "being provoked" as a policy tool to create tensions and impact the Washington-Taipei relationship, as well as the international media. "Being provoked" is a policy choice, not a visceral response.

7. Stop saying "Split in 1949". Taiwan and China did not split in 1949. The last time any government based in China had some kind of sovereignty over some part of Taiwan was in 1895 (The Economist does a laudable job here of conveying this) when Taiwan was given to Japan. In the 1945-49 interregnum the ROC administrated Taiwan under the aegis of the wartime Allies as an occupying power, while Japan retained sovereignty until 1952. Thus in 1949 Taiwan was part of Japan, not China. What split in 1949 was the KMT and the CCP. The idea that Taiwan was "returned to China" in 1945 or "taken from China in 1895" is strictly pro-China propaganda.

8. Stop saying the 1992 Consensus forms the basis of the current detente between the KMT and the CCP. It doesn't. Nothing was agreed on in 1992 (see Wiki). It was invented after 2000 and then developed under Ma Ying-jeou as a cage to imprison DPP policy. China has never accepted it. The KMT and CCP have been talking to each other for decades and do not need a fake consensus in order to do so. The basis for their dialogue is China's desire to annex Taiwan, not the 1992 Consensus.

9. Stop saying China and Taiwan are "divided." The ideas of "division" and "unity" are pro-China tropes. There is no "division" between Taiwan and China, because there was never any "unity". Taiwan was a colony of the Qing, the Manchu Empire that conquered China, Mongolia, and parts of many other countries, just as Kenya was conquered and colonized by the United Kingdom. Today no one writes: "Kenya is divided from the United Kingdom"... and no one should write "Taiwan was taken from China in 1895". Go here for more. Oh, and China is not Taiwan's "mainland". You're thinking of Hainan Island.

10. Stop using Chinese propaganda to explain China's actions. Any sentence that begins "China sees Taiwan..." should end "as an important goal in its most recent round of expansion" or something similar. "China" does not view Taiwan as "the one that got away" or "the last piece of the puzzle" or "national humiliation" or "if Taiwan goes, the whole periphery will go" or suchlike. That is Chinese propaganda used to focus nationalism for China's masses outward rather than inward towards the Communist Party and its inhumanity and brutality.
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!


Mark said...

It seems like the biggest single issue is conflating "China" with the "PRC". Taiwan was much once part of China, much like half of Europe was part of Prussia. But it's never been part of the People's Republic of China.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Michael, I'll bookmark this one and henceforth point writers to it when corrections to Taiwan related articles are required. It saves me having to spell it out in detail each time.

Should also come in handy for the trolls on Taipei Times.

Anonymous said...

I always feel that the international media is engaged in 1984-esque Newspeak when it comes to Taiwan (particularly, the concept of 'blackwhite'). Poor, defenseless China, with its thousands of missiles deployed specifically to attack Taiwan, not to mention its endless annexation rhetoric, is the innocent victim of Taiwan's hurtful democracy.

I feel part of the media's problem is that it equates Taiwan/China with South Korea/North Korea. The better comparison would be the KMT/CCP with South Korea/North Korea, but the KMT did an outstanding job of silencing Taiwanese voices. I'd like to popularise the following calculation - if we consider that existent written records of the area we commonly refer to as China began around 3,500 years ago, then a government based in China controlled Taiwan for only 6% of China's recorded history (212 years of limited and hands-off Qing control, plus the not-quite 4 years of Nanjing mismanagement from late 1945 until 1949). And that percentage decreases every day.

China always puts me in mind of an abusive ex-boyfriend, tearfully punching Taiwan, and screaming, "look at what you made me do!! Why must you make me angry?! Can't you see I love you?!!!"

Domenic said...

Brilliant list, sir.

Anonymous said...

(raises hand)

I'M anti-China!

arkhangelsk said...

I won't mind the rest, but I do think #4 is an interesting development. First, just because it is not a democracy doesn't means laws aren't passed. The CCP is not a democracy but it is not a one man dictatorship either.

Second, it is true that in the past, they might just have attacked on the authority of an Order or Decision coming from the Politburo, but the transition to using a law that was passed (even if one argues it was rubber-stamped) by the NPC marks an attempt to transition to a rule of law system and formalizing some rules that restrict even the state's action, at least to a greater extent than the old situation where everything was decided by an on-the-spot, rule-by-man Decision. They are starting to feel like they need a law to justify and confine these actions, and that in itself is a kind of progress.

Anonymous said...

9. A problem in parallelism I think with "Kenya is divided from the United Kingdom". A better example matching your basic argument would be "Kenya is divided from the Canada".

STOP Equivocation said...

Great list to reference, Michael.

In addition to what you said with the "so-called" 1992 Consensus, I think it's worth pointing out -- again -- the fundamental logistical elephant in the room...

A priori, you cannot call something a "consensus" if two parties are "agreeing to disagree" about the fundamental definition of what the parties are disputing.

In other words, even if this so-called consensus was "real", it is meaningless.

It's like saying theists and atheists reached the "1992 Ontological Concensus".

The use of this so-called agreement (real or not real) is just plain silly.

Therefore, why is the media giving it any attention at all?!

Mike Fagan said...

In this instance I agree with you entirely; all ten of those resolutions are basically just common sense. However, the wankers at the BBC and elsewhere don't have any common sense - which is why, among other things, they are at the BBC in the first place.

P. S. said...

This was an excellent and fact-filled vent. I don't know if you feel better, but I do!

P. S. said...

This was an excellent and fact-filled vent. I don't know if you feel better, but I do!

Anonymous said...

Powerful stuff.