When a trick works, you do it again. Thus Beijing's approach to international media coverage of the Taiwan issue.
The global media's lack of understanding of the complexities involved in the Taiwan Strait, its carelessness with historical facts or, worse, its ideological, commercial and political beliefs, have often led wire agencies and the news organizations that depend on them to take a position that, wittingly or not, benefited China and belittled Taiwan.
The instances of abuse are rife and repetitious, including -- but sadly not limited to -- the contention that Taiwan and China "split in 1949 after a civil war," that Taiwan is a "breakaway province" waiting to be "reunited with the mainland," that it is a "competitor" to China, or that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the Democratic Progressive Party are nothing but "troublemakers," "splittists," "extremists" or responsible for the "terrible" state of the economy in the past eight years.
Like coverage on other complex issues, the repetition of simplistic stock phrases soon results in them taking over reality, even if the premise is misleading or altogether false. When reductionism gives the illusion that we can make sense of what is otherwise a complex and intellectually demanding subject matter, the tendency is usually to adopt it. The media does that, and so do governments and the masses.
Misleading "facts" have played in Beijing's favor (mostly because it initiated them) and the Chinese leadership has become a master at using the key words the global media is intoxicated with to cast Taiwan as a "troublemaker" that should be blamed for the "tensions" in the Taiwan Strait and for "endangering the peace." So powerful has the grand illusion become that, by accepting the argument that Taiwan threatens (and China seeks) peace, consumers of news have become hypnotized into believing that the 1,400-odd missiles that bristle in Taiwan's direction are irrelevant.
One would think that the election on March 22 of Beijing's favorite, Ma Ying-Jeou (
But Beijing doesn't care about such little details as the truth. If the "1992 consensus" opens up a new front in its propaganda war against Taiwan and if it allows it to successfully portray itself, through gullible global reporting, as the "responsible" side in the conflict, then so be it. It knows it can count on wire agencies and the news outlets that recycle that information to skirt the complexities of the subject and proliferate that belief until the world is convinced that there is, indeed, such a thing as the "1992 consensus" and that a refusal on Taiwan's part to recognize it would yet again be proof of its "irresponsible" behavior.
Following recent developments in Tibet, Beijing has repeatedly accused Western media of being biased and irresponsible, of twisting and misreporting the facts. Oddly, when that irresponsibility plays to its advantage, Beijing doesn't seem to mind.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) wrote: “The KMT must fall for Taiwan to improve.’ Allow me to ask the question again: Is this really true?” It matters not how many times Hsu asks the question, my answer will always be the same: “Yes, the KMT must be toppled for Taiwan to improve.” In the lengthy Facebook post, titled “What were those born in the 1980s guilty of?” Hsu harked back to the idealistic aspirations of the 2014 Sunflower movement before heaping opprobrium on the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP)
The scuffle between Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji and a Taiwanese diplomat at a Republic of China (ROC) Double Ten National Day celebration has turned into a public relations opportunity for the government, Beijing and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Although the incident occurred on Oct. 8, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) downplayed it, only for the story to be picked up by the foreign media, forcing the ministry to respond. The public and opposition parties asked why the government had failed to remonstrate more strongly in the first instance. It is still unclear whether the ministry missed a trick
US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, are holding their final debate tonight. In their foreign policy debate, China is sure to be a major issue of contention for the two candidates. Here are several questions the moderator should pose to the candidates: For both: In the first televised US presidential debates in 1960, then-Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy and his Republican counterpart, Richard Nixon, were asked whether the US should intervene if communist China attacked Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu. Kennedy said no, unless the main island of Taiwan was also attacked.
For most of us, the colorful, otherworldly marinescapes of coral reefs are as remote as the alien landscapes of the moon. We rarely, if ever, experience these underwater wonderlands for ourselves — we are, after all, air-breathing, terrestrial creatures mostly cocooned in cities. It is easy not to notice the perilous state they are in: We have lost 50 percent of coral reefs in the past 20 years and more than 90 percent are expected to die by 2050, a presentation at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California, earlier this year showed. As the oceans heat further and