Saturday, January 14, 2017

BBC still pro-China, just not as bad

Motorcycle gangs, Taiwan style

Here is BBC's response to my complaint on this hugely pro-China backgrounder over a year ago. Despite the changes, the piece remains powerfully pro-China and studded with errors. For example, the TRA doesn't obligate the US to sell weapons or do anything else, as Chris Nelson explained these many years ago. But you can hardly expect a non-specialist to understand the arcanity of Taiwan in US politics. And although they have corrected some of the factual errors, the powerful pro-China slant remains. I guess the "C" in BBC stands for "China"....

Dear Mr Turton

Ref: CAS-3580463-1F12HS

Thank you for getting in touch about our feature article “What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?” (

It has come to our attention that you made a complaint about this article, over a year ago, but never received a response.

We’d firstly like to apologise for this oversight, which led to this hugely excessive and regrettable delay. Notwithstanding that delay, we’d also like the opportunity to address the points you’ve made, which are listed individually below along with our response to each:

Text says Dutch period began in 1642, it began in 1624

You’re quite correct and we’ve since amended this.

Text says in Taiwan Relations Act US promises to provide weapons to Taiwan, the Act specifically makes no such promise

The US is obliged to supply defensive weaponry to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, with section 3 specifically setting out that “it is U.S. policy to provide Taiwan with such weapons as may be necessary for its security and an adequate defensive capability.” (
[MT: The TRA is specifically written not to obligate the US to anything]

Text says US sent ships into Taiwan Strait. No ships entered Taiwan Strait.

The US Navy 7th fleet did deploy and the Nimitz battle carrier group transited the Taiwan Strait during the 1996 crisis.
[MT -- The Nimitz transited the Straits long before the 1996 Crisis. During the 1996 it stayed south of Taiwan]

Text says Japan's defeat in WWII led to UK and US assigning Taiwan to China. US and UK agreed after WWII Taiwan's status is undetermined. That is still both nations' policy today

We’ve since amended this sentence to now explain:

“But after World War Two, the Republic of China - one of the victors - began ruling Taiwan with the consent of its allies the US and UK, after Japan surrendered and relinquished control of territory it had taken from China.”
[MT: note how the text still refuses to give the actual status of Taiwan under international law. So pro-China]

Text says only small minority support independence. Independence is widely supported in poll after poll, usually around 70% support

We’ve also since amended this sentence to read:

“Opinion polls show only a small minority of Taiwanese support pursuing one or the other at the moment, with most preferring to stick with the current middle ground.”
[MT: You can see the pro-China slant again. The "status quo" is preferred over annexation to China. But polls consistently show most people want independence. Yet BBC cannot explain that]

Text claims China visited Taiwan in 239, which is pure speculation reported as fact. No evidence it is true

The text doesn’t claim as a fact that China visited Taiwan in 239, but that the island “first appears in Chinese records in AD239,” which is not the same thing and is contextualised when the same sentence explains that this is “a fact Beijing uses to back its territorial claim.”
[MT: The island doesn't appear in Chinese records in 239. That's a fantasy, not fact. And note how this invention relates Taiwan to China.]

Text omits mention of Taiwan aborigines and says only "settlers" came from China. But recent archaeology says Taiwan aborigines came up from south

We’ve since amended this sentence to refer to how:

“The first known settlers in Taiwan are Austronesian tribal people thought to have come from modern day southern China.”
[MT: Actually, it is just as likely they came up from the south. Again, a claim that links Taiwan to China. But at least progress....]

Text keeps saying "many Taiwanese" (support independence) when polls repeatedly show majority do

We think this sentence accurately describes the support for a separate nation and so have no plans to amend it.

Text omits 2-28 massacre and places KMT rule after 1949, not in 1945 as historically correct

The sentence doesn’t refer to KMT rule but that “Chiang and the remnants of his Kuomintang (KMT) government fled to Taiwan in 1949,” which we’d stand by as accurate.

Text attributes democratization in Taiwan to dictator Chiang Ching-kuo. Like writing "In 1776, King George of England began a process of giving independence to the colonists in America".

We’ve since amended this sentence to now read:

“Having inherited an effective dictatorship, facing resistance from local people resentful of the 228 Massacre and authoritarian rule, and under pressure from a growing democracy movement, Chiang's son, Chiang Ching-kuo, began allowing a process of democratisation, which eventually led to the 2000 election of the island's first non-KMT president, Chen Shui-bian.”
[MT: that's much better]

We hope you’ll find this response satisfactory and please accept our apologies once again for not responding before now.

Best wishes,

Sean Moss

BBC News website
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Marc said...

Chianng Ching-kuo became a "democrat" only after the US said it was going to pull the plug on the $$$, right?

Tim Maddog said...

The BBC is trying to master Jeet Kune Do (截拳道), or "the art of correcting without correcting."

Tim Maddog

Jenna Cody said...

I am curious what the first confirmed mention of Taiwan in Chinese documents was, in fact. A quick search did not immediately reveal that information.

Anonymous said...

The first definitive mention of Taiwan comes from the Chen Di anti-piracy expeditions in 1603. Everything prior is a mixture of speculative mythology and nationalist ambition.

TaiwanJunkie said...

The fact that we are even curious about the first mention of Taiwan in Chinese text speaks volumes to the success of Chinese campaign to use history as the sole determinant for sovereignty. Where else in the world do we need to ask that question? For example, "Oh, when was the first mention of Ireland in English text...?"