Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CNN reports from 2007 on Taiwan


Lots of great stuff out there on Taiwan this weekend, but this CNN "analysis" appears to be reporting straight from 2007. Rather than mix the vile and the valuable, I'll post up the good stuff later. Onward and upward...

Of course CNN begins with those causeless tensions...
Prior to those elections, relations between the two were at a high point after Xi met with then-President Ma Ying-jeou, the first such meeting in history between leaders of the two governments.

But since then, tensions between China and the island it views as a breakaway province have become strained under Ma's successor, President Tsai Ing-wen.
Those restless, unceasing Uncaused Tensions, the Augustian First Cause of Cross-Strait Cosmology, once again appearing to cause trouble. Tensions, it must be said again, are caused by China's desire  to annex Taiwan, not by anything Taiwan does. While Tsai's party is cast as pro-independence in the CNN piece, CNN does not report that Ma was pro-China, nor that the meeting was a failure without fruit. Instead the happy days of Ma's disastrous reign are contrasted with Tsai's failure to kow-tow to Beijing.

CNN originally invented reported:
Officially, Washington acknowledges Taiwan is part of mainland China under the Communist Party's "One China" policy.
This is a classic -- CNN reports wrongly that US policy says Taiwan is part of China, and as a special bonus, goes on to say the US follows the CCP's Taiwan policy! LOL.

I tweeted several of the reporters involved about this -- dunno if I had any effect because none responded -- but this was changed in the next version, to...
While Washington does not challenge Communist China's claim over Taiwan, the official US policy simply states that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait recognize there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
LOL. Nope. The US does not recognize but instead merely acknowledges that Chinese on both sides of the Strait feel that way. The language of the Shanghai Communique is online, but apparently CNN reporters have not solved Google. The "official US policy" is that Taiwan's status is undetermined. Why CNN can't say that is a mystery. No doubt it is due to those Uncaused Tensions.

Even war is treated that way:
Not least of which, if war were to break out between Beijing and Taipei, there's no guarantee whether or not Washington would join the island's defense.
War "breaks out". It has no cause. In fact the only way war could occur is if China attacks Taiwan. Once again CNN refuses to assign negative agency to China.

One way the US could really help Taiwan is for US officials to change the way they speak about Taiwan and clearly state what US Taiwan policy is. That would help reporters unravel the Deep Mysteries of US Taiwan policy, encourage them to report openly what US policy is, and help position Taiwan as an object of sympathy and support rather than a provocative driver of tension as CNN positions it here.

Yes, I will have a piece out on that in a couple of days...

CNN then urks up another classic.
The developments follow a surprise move by the Trump administration to facilitate direct communication with Tsai in December 2016, the first known contact between a US president and a Taiwanese leader since the US broke diplomatic relations with the island in 1979.

Though that call created diplomatic ruptures with China, in recent months Trump has looked to build closer ties between Washington and Taipei.
What a laffer. There was no Trump Administration in Dec of 2016, Trump was president-elect, not POTUS. Even under CNN's erroneous frame, the call was not the "first known contact" between presidents of Taiwan and the US as Michael Green noted in a piece two years ago. As for a surprise move, it was being reported in the media here the day before it occurred, and... well, I've already discussed this at length. Ruptures? No "rupture" occurred, the Chinese response was pro forma.

Deeper problems abound, however. Who speaks?
Collin Koh, research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies' Maritime Security Program, told CNN.

Responding to the news of the upcoming live-fire drills, the Taiwanese Defense Military said in a statement [describing the Chinese military drills]

"Every inch of our great motherland's territory cannot be separated from China," President Xi said during a nationalistic speech at the National People's Congress in March, drawing huge applause.

with the tabloid Global Times writing in an editorial that the mainland needed to "prepare for a possible military clash."

"That's a dangerous trend," Richard McGregor, senior fellow at Sydney's Lowy Institute, told CNN.

Issuing a word of caution, Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at CSIS
Singapore... Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (not Defense Military lolwut?)... President Xi... Global Times... Australia... the US...

Yeah. That's right. No one based in Taiwan is permitted to speak and advocate Taiwan's point of view. Although the piece is about the US and China, only one American voice is quoted (and this from a US media organ. Oy ve). The President of China is quoted a couple of times, along with the state media, but President Tsai is silenced. Sec of State (designate) Mike Pompeo is cited but not quoted. Although we are informed that Taiwan is a "core interest" of China, no one explains what US policy is or what its interests might be, or why Taiwan might be worth defending. Instead, Taiwan is reported as site and generator of tension.

CNN kneecaps itself: because it has reported, falsely, that the US does not challenge China's claim, it cannot depict Taiwan as the victim of expansionism nor can it report that a Chinese attack is a violation of international law while a US defense would be consistent with it. Instead, a great American news organ aligns itself with Beijing.

The piece highlights what I blogged on below: Beijing has well learned how to position these drills to manipulate the media. The drill did not take place in the waters  between Taiwan and China. It took place in coastal waters off Fujian. Beijing has realized that if it reports these drills as taking place in "the Taiwan Strait" rather than its own coastal waters, the media will seize on them as evidence of tensions. Tensions sell papers... a perfect, and very anti-democracy symbiosis has been forged.

CNN's opening sentence thus sexes up the tensions:
Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a clear message of Beijing's disapproval over growing ties between the United States and Taiwan by ordering live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait.
....the drills were planned months in advance and were not aimed at Beijing's disapproval of growing ties between Taiwan and the US -- the piece even quotes the always sensible Bonnie Glaser saying so! (when I encounter women interested in international politics careers, I always point to Glaser as a model for them of how to communicate as a forceful and intelligent thinker who happens to be female.) But CNN ran with that opening ZOMG TENSHUNZ! line because it brings in the clicks.

TENSHUNZ are further highlighted by juxtaposing the Chinese drills with the Taiwan drills (but no mention of the richly abundant trade and human ties between the two nations), with CNN twice saying Tsai boarded a warship. Yes, twice, but CNN couldn't find room for a quote from Tsai (or anyone else) on what Taiwan's perspective might be. If only Taiwan were an eastern European state resisting Russian expansion, rather than an Asian state resisting Chinese expansion...

Contrast CNN's presentation of Taiwan in this piece with this one on Estonia vs Russia from WaPo. Check every mention of Tsai. Is she ever positioned as the leader of a nation bravely resisting Chinese expansionism?

Never mind energy and action: manly Xi "personally reviewed the troops himself from the deck of the Chinese destroyer" while Tsai merely "boards" a boat to "review". Is this a pro-China thing, or just ordinary gender bias? The reader will have to pluck that straw out of this haystack of possibilities. CNN even emphasizes that he "personally" did it "himself". That Xi, so manly, CNN had to tell us twice.

It also assigns US-China tensions to the advent of Trump, specifically instancing the Taiwan Travel Act, which had unanimous, bipartisan support in Congress (and the drills held in 2018 are said to "follow" a phone call held in 2016, as if the call were held on Alpha Centauri and the light was just reaching Earth now). We are told that Trump worries Beijing, but never why his administration might support Taiwan. We are never told what Beijing is doing to worry the US, either.

Thanks, CNN. With reporting like this, my blog will always have an audience eager to learn what is actually going on.

PS: CNN doesn't even mention the word "democracy" in the piece. Sad.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael, a good read, as always