Thursday, February 09, 2006

Taiwan to Request More Patriots

Hooray! I've been asking that the gov't do this for months: Taiwan to request more Patriot missile batteries.

Taiwan's defense ministry said it needs more US-made Patriot anti-missile systems as Chinese ballistic missiles targeting the island are anticipated to more than double to 1,800 by 2013.

Officials from the defense ministry made their case to reporters for more weapons as Taiwan's opposition parties have blocked a 340 billion Taiwan dollars (10.6 billion US) arms purchase package.

China currently has at least 800 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, and that number is increasing by 100 a year, the ministry said.

The comments were made as journalists were given access for the first time to a room where confidential computer-simulated war games are held every year.

The results of the simulated drills last year indicated that about one-third of China's ballistic missiles could penetrate Taiwan's half-completed missile shield and cause damage, officials said.

"We need more Patriot missiles to counter the threat," General Hu Chen-pu said.

Unfortunately the article then follows with a highly-slanted, bog-standard repetition of the pro-China pan-Blue parties' claims about the arms package:

The bill, proposed by the defense ministry, has yet to win approval by the procedure committee of the opposition-controlled parliament, a necessary step before it can be heard in the full house.

The opposition parties insist the arms bill is illegal given that the Taiwanese voted against expanded arms purchase in the island's first referendum held simultaneously with presidential polls in March 2004.

Some also say that Taiwan cannot afford the arms deal. The opposition, which favor closer relations with China, also says supplies would come to slowly to keep pace with China's military build-up.

Phrases like: "has yet to win approval" function ephemistically to lay a fog of seeming rationality over the more than 40 times the Committee has blocked the bill from reaching the floor. Imagine if the article had presented, without comment, the simple fact that the bill has been blocked in a non-defense-related committee more than 40 times.

Note that in the next sentence, the writer asserts only the position of the pan-Blues, without any balance from the pan-Greens, and does not point out that the Taiwanese voted overwhelmingly in favor of the arms purchase, but that the number of voters fell short of the number required to make it a valid referendum. In other words, the article re-iterates a common lie of the pro-China parties. The referendum failed because it was not valid, not because its position was rejected. Readers might well ponder why, if the public is against the arms purchase, the opposition parties, who have a legislative majority, are afraid to let the bill come to a vote.

The final paragraph says that the "opposition parties" favor "closer relations with China", another euphemism. What they actually favor is annexing Taiwan to China, a result for which "closer relations" are a necessary prerequisite. One of the ways in which the western media is slanted against Taiwan's democracy parties is that it consistently presents the KMT and the PFP as wanting only "closer relations with China" while the DPP favors "independence." Properly, the media should be labeling the pro-China parties as pro-annexation, or pro-unification.

Finally, note how the names and political affiliations of the "opposition parties" are never used in the article. Consider how much more the reader would understand if the writer had written the KMT, or Chinese Nationalist Party, instead of covering their identities with the euphemism "the opposition parties" (who in fact have a majority in the legislature).

Taiwan is ill-served by the western media. It is no wonder people overseas have such a difficult time understanding our island. The article is a presentation of AFP (Agence France-Presse).


David said...

I've just reread the title of this post ... was that an intentional double meaning? Excellent stuff :)

Michael Turton said...

Hahaha. No, great spot, though.

Jing said...

That is something interesting arithmetic by the Taiwanese authorities. As of March 2005, I believe Taiwan only had a total of some 200 patriot missiles divided among 3 batteries (The blues voted down further attempts to buy more I believe). Intercepting over 500 missiles with only some 200 interceptors is quite a trick. Combine this with the fact that standard fireing procedure that requires 2-4 patriots per target to insure a favourable chance to hit and it becomes even more queer how Taiwan's "half-completed missile shield" could be effective at all.

Michael Turton said...

jing, they only need enough to cover certain critical know, the Shihlin Night Market, Yungho Soybean Milk in Yungho, and Jolin Tsai.