The international newswires generally present the facts as they happen. They pick out the essential news items, describe them in a brief and easy-to-read text, and send them out into the world.
\nHowever, every once in a while there is a text that is repeated so often by the newswires that the general public starts to accept it as a "fact," whether it is fiction or not.
\nThere is a sentence that reappears in virtually every single article by AP, AFP or Reuters about Taiwan and China, which seems to be accepted as a "fact" these days. The sentence generally goes as follows: "Taiwan split away from China in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War. Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory, to be reunited by force, if necessary."
\nThis sentence conjures up the image that, in the mid-1940s, Taiwan was somehow part of China, and that it left the fold. In this picture, it makes it sound right and reasonable for China to "want it back."
\nThe reality is a bit more complex: In 1895 Taiwan was ceded to Japan in perpetuity, and through 1945 it was a Japanese colony. The history before 1895 was even more complex, but suffice it to say that the Chinese emperors never gave Taiwan a thought, and hardly ever had any administrative control over it until 1887, when the Manchus briefly made it a Chinese province, which it was for a mere eight years.
\nIn the 1920s and 1930s, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were battling each other in China, and neither cared much about Taiwan, which was under Japanese control. Records show that the CCP, the predecessors of the present authorities in Beijing, supported Taiwan's independence from Japan. Mao Zedong (
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