Sunday, August 19, 2018

The 85C mess and BBC *sigh*.

Morning at Fengyuan train station

BBC's report on the 85C mess... is a mess itself.
The LA branch of Taiwanese-owned 85C Bakery Cafe gave the coffee, along with an enthusiastic welcome, to Tsai Ing-wen when she dropped in last Sunday.

But many Chinese customers - who visit the chain's branches in mainland China - were furious, calling for a boycott.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory, and the Chinese public are often quick to jump on anything that is seen as endorsing Taiwanese independence.
Warmly welcoming Ms Tsai, the leader of a pro-independence party, was seen as unacceptable.

Yet, when the bakery chain tried some damage control, quickly putting out a statement distancing itself from pro-independence sentiments, it only sparked more anger - this time in Taiwan, where people accused the company of bowing to Chinese pressure.
That summary is pretty much correct. We will come back to the bolded parts in a second. J Michael Cole pointed out in a piece at Taiwan Sentinel that this "bottom up" nationalism in which netizens attack foreign firms who don't conform.
After photos of the encounter were made public, Chinese ultranationalists kicked into action and accused the chain, which operates 859 stores in China and made 64% of its Q1 revenue there, of supporting Taiwan independence. Threats of a boycott (described by the South China Morning Post as a “zealous online campaign”) were sent to the company’s Weibo account, and its Taiwan website was was knocked offline by what is believe to have been a cyber attack. The next day, Long Mingbiao, deputy director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said China would “never allow” a company that (purportedly) supports Taiwanese independence to operate in China.

Thus threatened, the company — which was founded in 2004 and is now registered in the Cayman Islands — issued a three-point apology on its China website. The company thanked the Chinese for “educating” it, reaffirmed its “firm support” for the so-called “1992 consensus,” and stated its hopes for the “peaceful unification” of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait while “opposing any behavior and remarks that separate the brotherhood of the two sides.”
Actually, it's all nonsense, as lots of companies that support independence operate in China. Cole rightfully worries about the threat of ultranationalism, but I wonder if these incidents can be taken at face value -- how much of the "ultranationalism" comes down to internet minders as orders from Beijing, so that Beijing can arrange incidents like this. But it probably doesn't need to...

But, back to the BBC. Take a look at the text bolded there. BBC in the first five paragraphs twice tells us how "the Chinese" feel. It mentions that Taiwanese accused the company of bowing to Chinese pressure, though why "bowing to Chinese pressure" is a problem is not mentioned aloud (it is assumed as subtext). A curious silence, that grows...

After telling us that Taiwan's status is a sensitive issue -- but what is its status under international law, BBC? We are never told, though that is quite clear -- its status remains undetermined. BBC never mentions that. BBC never mentions what the people of Taiwan want in the text.

Well, there's a picture caption that says "Many Taiwanese don't want to be part of China." How many, BBC? There's extensive poll data on that. Oh, there is another caption that says (in wonky English) "Taiwan remains defiant of Beijing's sovereignty claims". But why are they defiant? How is democracy mentioned in the text related to this defiance?

Those are the only things we hear about how (some?) ordinary Taiwanese feel, and they are picture captions, not main text.

The next paragraphs, one after another, offer China boilerplate...
  • China considers the island to be a renegade province...
  • China insists that other countries can only have diplomatic ties with China...
  • ...Beijing has become increasingly assertive over its claims...
What does Taiwan feel? It's a mystery. What is this independence that is sometimes spoken of in the article, yet never explained? BBC has endless space to explain to us how poor put-upon China feels, but nary a sentence in the main text on how Taiwanese feel about China... nor is any Chinese claim interrogated or deconstructed. Nor are any ordinary Taiwanese quoted about how they feel. As is so often the case in the international media, Chinese claims are repeated without challenge (consider this BBC report on the Baltics and Putin, by contrast, with its extensive man-on-the-street reportage).

BBC then gives some details of what happened in the visit to the 85C outlet. Then, back to the "analysis":
Although Ms Tsai has been a moderate voice on the independence issue since her election, she is viewed by the mainland as a dangerous separatist.
Whew! BBC almost said something about Taiwan without telling us what China felt! At least they stated that Tsai is a moderate as if that were a fact in the world. Kudos to them for that tiny advance toward truthfulness.

We then get a post from social media in China...
"85C is a 'Taiwan independence' two-faced company," said one post on social media..."
...but nada from social media in Taiwan.

BBC then describes the damage control, saying of 85C's moves...
It reiterated its "firm support" for the 1992 Consensus - a loose agreement between Taiwan and China that there is only one China, without defining what that means.
This is just plain Beijing-slanted fictionalizing. There is no "agreement" between Taiwan and China called the 1992 Consensus -- no consensus was reached at the 1992 meeting in Singapore between the unelected representatives of two authoritarian parties. Rather, after 2000, KMT and CCP politicians working to suppress democracy and independence in Taiwan agreed to pretend to each other that there was a 1992 Consensus (which they differ on!). The "agreement" is between the KMT and the CCP, not Taiwan and China. Sad.

Finally, after the company's damage control moment, we get some Taiwan point of view:
In Taiwan, it sparked accusations that the bakery was bowing to pressure from Beijing.

A spokesman for the presidential office in Taipei called accused China of carrying out an "uncivilised act" which would "hinder the world market order and freedom of speech".
An actual quote from the Presidential office. Apparently Taiwanese netizens are not worth quoting, and BBC gives us no information on independence though it gives extensive information on China's belligerent expansionism (and goes into some depth further in the article). Instead, BBC assumes "independence" without mentioning so much as a poll or the word "identity". Without that, "bowing to pressure" is meaningless.

You suck, BBC.

REF: FocusTW report, Taiwan news on the fall in stock value
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Anonymous said...

You often mention you feel TW establishments should refuse service to Chinese nationals.

If so, how can you take objection to them not wanting a TW chain there?

Please be consistent in argumentation.

Michael Turton said...

You often mention you feel TW establishments should refuse service to Chinese nationals.

No, I've often said that they have every right to. You've misread.