Mon, May 19, 2008 - Page 8 News List


Taiwan and maps

Once Taiwan swears in its next president, it will have a leader who wasn’t born here and has close family members holding citizenship in another country. While such details are amusing, it wouldn’t matter so much if his party didn’t originate from China.

Twenty years ago, I pinned up a world map from National Geographic magazine in my childhood bedroom. I left it up after going off to college. A couple of years ago, I was amused by how much the world had changed since the end of the Cold War. One thing that I hadn’t noticed before was that Taiwan is depicted with the same color as China and Taipei was not marked with the star designation as with other national capitals.

While such a presentation doesn’t reflect reality, I chalked it up to National Geographic not wanting to take sides in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-Chinese Communist Party civil war.

Of more recent note was this month’s issue of National Geographic magazine, which is entirely devoted to China. While I expected significant positive coverage of China because of the Beijing Olympics, the marginalization of Taiwan was blatant. As I went through this issue, I counted 10 maps of China where Taiwan was presented as just another part of China. The complimentary fold-out map in this issue also had this erroneous depiction. Yet part of National Geographic’s motto is “to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge.”

I understand that National Geographic wants to sell its TV programming in the Chinese market through its arrangement with News Corp, but the repetition of Chinese communist propaganda isn’t what I expect from an organization that aims to educate children and adults alike.

The big irony is that at the end of the issue, where pictures of the various “faces of China” are displayed, not a single person from Taiwan was present. National Geographic is not the first entity to sniff the rear ends of communists to get into the Chinese market. But to pass out blatant propaganda under the guise of education does nothing but devalue its brand name.

With the Taiwanese electorate giving both the legislative and executive branches to the KMT recently, is the Taiwan brand in jeopardy?

Carl Chiang

Richmond, California

Metzl too obsequious

A perfect storm is brewing? Give me a break. The drivel in Jamie Metzl’s recent piece (“Isolated China Benefits Nobody,” May 15, page 8) makes one wonder; was it a belated attempt to justify the Clinton administration’s giveaway tactics in accommodating China or the pursuit of funding for the Asia Society?

An isolated China may not benefit anyone but neither does an indulgent placating of China.

The perpetuation of China’s “almost two centuries of perceived national humiliation” and the worry that “Beijing will blame the West” that Metzl expresses is perpetuated by such worried schoolboy apologetics. Beijing couldn’t have hired a better spokesperson.

Jerome Keating


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