Tuesday, November 04, 2008

ARATS visit round up

The Financial Times says it all: Top China official to visit Taiwan.

The Taipei Times has a huge collection of stuff each day in a special feature. An article on taxi drivers parking to protest the Chen-Ma meeting. DPP Chair Tsai pens open letter. Taipei Times' review of world media outlets on the visit. Taiwanese bankers in China call for quick deal on cross-strait financial issues. The Taipei Times also editorializes on the heavy security surrounding ARATS Chairman Chen's visit, and the fact that in Taipei, ROC flags and other objects that might "offend" the colonialists from across the strait, like Tibetan flags, have been banned. In fact Taiwan News reports that police dispersed protesters for unfurling the national flag. On Monday a DPP legislator wrote a commentary on safeguarding Taiwan's national interests. The China Post has a complete rundown of the itinerary. AP reports on the protests over the visit, as does the Guardian and Reuters India. Good work, guys. TSMC calls for China, Taiwan cooperation on semiconductors. The DPP launched a three-day sit in to protest the visit. Taiwan News points out that Ma holds completely different positions on direct links than he did when he was head of the MAC.

MEDIA MOMENTS: Kudos to Ed Wong of the NYTimes for a very balanced article on the visit, and a miraculous rendition of the Formula:
The Chinese Communist Party sees Taiwan as a rebel province that split from China in 1949, when the KMT sought refuge on the island after losing the Chinese civil war, and must be brought back into the fold. Many Taiwanese prefer to maintain the current status quo of de facto independence, and some, especially members of the DPP, advocate formal independence.
Now that takes the same two sentences that all the others do, yet manages to get out both sides of the issue. Great work, Ed! Why can't all the media outlets do that?

Contrast the very fair NYT article, which manages to note that Ma is deeply unpopular and that many fear a sell-out, with former WaPo Beijing correspondent John Pomfret's bizarre WaPo blog posts on the Chen visit to Taiwan. It's OK right up to the moment it starts talking about the DPP, and then veers into a set of CCP talking points that have only the vaguest connection to reality, ignoring the widespread opposition to the feared sell-out, and Ma's deeply unpopularity for his "moderate" policies on China.

AFP reports Ma not to "budge an inch" on sovereignty. -- yet despite Ma's concrete downgrading's of Taiwan's sovereighty, for example, saying Taiwan is a "region", not a state, AFP does not report that. Instead we get a paean to Ma's greatness:
Relations with Beijing have improved dramatically since Ma came to power earlier this year and he has worked to boost business and tourism links with China following eight years of strained relations under a DPP government.
This paragaph is completely asinine -- it constructs a world where the DPP did not "work to boost business and tourism links" but instead "relations were strained" -- true enough, but nothing like the whole truth. In fact, with $100-$200 billion of investment in Taiwan, the DPP government was by far the most open to China in the island's history, and all the current negotiations simply follow paths blazed by the DPP. But nowhere does AFP acknowledge any of that reality. Nor does it recognize why relations "improved" -- because Beijing refused to talk to the pro-democracy side, and likes Ma the pro-China ideologue.

US Election: Reuters summarizes the respective positions of the two US candidates on Taiwan.


Tommy said...

This is all looking like another major fumble by Ma and the KMT. By not allowing the demonstrators to demonstrate effectively, the opportunities for criticism seem to be exploding, resulting in more reasons to demonstrate.

Ma is fulfilling the DPP's prophecy. The DPP says Ma will stifle the rights of Taiwanese, and Ma, fearing for the opinions of the Chinese, does exactly what the DPP says he would do, and very openly at that.

Michael, I read today that Wan Hai Lines and Evergreen are expecting, in an "optimistic situation", an increase of new business opportunities to the tune of NT$100 billion in five years. To people who don't think critically (many casual newspaper readers) this sounds like a lot. Yet do the math and it works out to less than US$3.5 billion. Taiwan's GDP was $383.3 billion in 2007. That makes a whopping increase of 0.79 percent IN FIVE YEARS!!! And shipping is supposed to be the money maker.

David said...

An English translation of Tsai Ing-wen's open letter is on the English section of the DPP website. It doesn't seem possible to link to it directly though.

Anonymous said...

I believe Edward Wong last year or the year before was in Taipei learning Chinese at ICLP. So he should be very familiar with the situation in Taiwan here, as well as being capable of reading Chinese-language media.

Anonymous said...

Is it my imagination or have renderings of "the formula" visibly improved lately? It used to seem like all the major news outlets uniformly applied the same "breakaway province" line in every article on Taiwan. Or maybe it's just because Michael draws attention to the unusual ones on this blog.

Hmm....might be an interesting project to do an empirical analysis of news items from over the past 6 years or so.

Tommy said...

Janice, I was thinking exactly the same thing myself today. I find it very interesting. Michael, are you the one complaining to all of the news orgs? If it is truly working, I will step up my meager efforts myself.

Or could it be that, now that the KMT is back in power, their "opposition voice" is not given the credit it once was and that conflict-loving journalists happen to be consulting DPP websites to dish up dirt to talk about? I was quite surprised to read more or less the truth in a Reuters story the other day.

Anonymous said...

David, here's the link to the translation: http://www.dpp.org.tw/news_content.php?kw=&menu_sn=8&sub_menu=45&show_title=News&page=1&one_page=10&stat=&sn=3420&act=.

The web design of the DPP website unfortunately is horrible. They need to spend some money on someone professional...

Dixteel said...

It might actually be a good thing that they are surpressing flags etc heavy handedly. It's a very good lesson, a big wake up call to all Taiwanese: the ROC flag, ROC name and ROC presidency don't matter anymore. Any symbol coming from ROC no longer deserve any of our respect. I have completely given up on those ROC symbols (before I would be happy to see the flag now I don't).

I might sound crazy but what we really need is a new flag, a new name and a new national capital. ROC government no longer deserve tax payers' support or money. In my opinion, it's no longer a crime to burn ROC flag.

I would urge people try to select a new national flag, a flag all Taiwanese can agree on (maybe have a referandum outside the current system organized by non-governmental organizations). And to those Taiwanese patriots, you have my highest respect, but please stop using ROC flag inside and outside Taiwan. Might be better to try to show a new flag.