Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Hillary must be tought with China

By Paul Lin 林保華

China often blames Japan for revising history books, and it recently also accused Taiwan of historical revisionism. Beijing, however, misrepresents history more frequently than anyone else. Not only does Beijing distort books on its own history and true information about the current situation, its trickery also reaches into other countries.

During the Second Taipei-Shanghai City Forum held in Shanghai in February 2001, Deputy Taipei Mayor Bai Hsiu-hsiung's (白秀雄) speech was revised by Shanghai authorities, although the atmosphere at the forum remained amicable.

A year before that, amendments had also been made to parts of the second volume of Lee Kuan Yew's (李光耀) memoirs involving former prime minister Li Peng (李鵬) and assessments of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) when it was published in China. Lee did not complain, and let Beijing make the amendments it wished. Maybe Bai and Lee felt that they were being "patriotic," or that "blood is thicker than water" when they let China decide.

By giving Beijing an inch, it has taken a mile, and in its increasing boldness it has now walked all over the US' former first lady, Senator Hillary Clinton by distorting her memoirs. In doing so, Beijing has taken one step too far and created a controversy.

Clinton's memoir, Living History, has been available on the Chinese market for over a month. Several changes and omissions have been discovered, and an angry Clinton has authorized the book's American publisher Simon & Schuster to send a letter of protest to the Chinese publisher, Yilin Press, requesting that they recall all copies of the book.

The response from Yilin Press was predictable.

A "clarification" by the head of the company, Zhang Zude (章祖德), given in a telephone interview with the Hong Kong newspaper Takung Pao, included the following points.

First, Yilin said they had not omitted large chunks of text from the biography, but they had made a few minor technical changes "in order to make the biography more palatable to [Chinese] readers."

Second, because the American publisher had been slow to send the English manuscript, Yilin had to use the Taiwanese translation. However, using the Taiwanese version raised concerns about piracy that would directly affect the interests of the author, Simon & Schuster and Yilin Press.

To save time, Yilin had no choice but to obtain the support of the Taiwanese publisher and use the Taiwanese translation. Due to differences in translation and language use, and due to the fact that there were six translators working on a translation for which there was not yet a final version, Yilin had to make some amendments and technical changes to the translation they had received from their Taiwan-ese colleague. This was understandable and within the publisher's rights.

Third, throughout the translation and publication process, there had never been any kind of "political pressure" from "above" or anywhere else.

I would expect that the same explanation was given to Simon & Schuster, making Clinton even more unhappy. Simon & Schuster sent another letter to Yilin Press requesting corrections to be made within a specified time period or all Yilin's rights to market the book would be withdrawn.

The Chinese explanation was indeed absurd. The changed or omitted parts include the complete section dealing with the speech Hillary Clinton delivered at the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and the section about talks in Beijing in 1998 between then US president Bill Clinton and then Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) regarding Tibet. A paragraph about the Tienanmen massacre was also omitted. Five paragraphs about democracy activist Harry Wu (吳宏達) were distorted or omitted.

This story has been viewed 4862 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top