Sat, Jul 05, 2003 - Page 8 News List


Teen pregnancy story shocks

I write with reference to your extremely misleading and poorly written lead article ("Taiwan tops list of single teen moms," June 29, page 1).

If the intention of the article was to shock, I must say you succeeded in shocking your readers with a sloppy standard of reporting that we are not accustomed to seeing in a quality newspaper such as the Taipei Times. The issues of abortion, teenage sexual activity, teenage motherhood and pregnancy out of wedlock are all mixed up together, so that despite repeated readings the article makes little sense and omits important information to support its sensationalist claims.

The article's failings start with its title. Although we are informed that 15 to 17 out of every 1,000 mothers in the country are teenagers, no mention is made of their marital status.

Furthermore, the list of neighboring countries that Taiwan is supposed to top appears to include just Japan and South Korea, where again no mention is made of the marital status of teenage mothers.

A more responsibly written article would have put Taiwan's figures in a worldwide perspective and clearly distinguished between single and married teenage mothers.

Second, the data presented to support the claim made in the title is curiously dated. According to the article, they refer to the period from 1986 to 1996. Other figures, which are pre-sented as evidence of increased sexual activity in teenagers refer to the period from 1980 to 1997.

If the report to which the article refers was released just the day before, one wonders what it contained that was new, and why such information was not reported. Perhaps it was just not shocking enough.

The most recent figures come from a survey by the Bureau of Health Promotion and refer to the period from 1995 to 2000. These figures show an increase in sexual activity among boys and girls, but without any mention of an age-group they are meaningless and confusing, particularly in the light of the much higher numbers mentioned in earlier paragraphs.

Given the ongoing topicality of teenage sexual activity in Taiwan, I look forward to reading a fuller and more coherent treatment of the subject in the pages of your newspaper soon.

Peter Jilks


Beware of China's trap

When China proposed its "one country, two systems" scheme about two decades ago, it set a trap for Taiwan. It never meant the coexistence of two systems; rather, it intended to have a big system and a small one, just like a cat and a mouse. Once a mouse gets into a trap, it will be swallowed by the cat. This is exactly what has happened to Hong Kong in just six years.

In order to gain the approval of Hong Kong's people and the nations of the free world, China promised that Hong Kong's system and way of life would be preserved for 50 years. It was a very attractive trap and fooled many of Hong Kong's people and the free world.

In 1997, China was so proud of its trick that a count-down clock was set up in Tiananmen Square.

Once the People's Liberation Army -- 4,000 troops' worth -- got into Hong Kong, Beijing didn't care what it had promised. Its main concern was how to convert the three branches of Hong Kong government into a Chinese system.

First, it appointed a pro-China puppet, Tung Chee-hwa (董建華), as the territory's chief executive. He in turn appointed 14 department heads with the approval of China.

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