Despite the sizeable turnout at the demonstrations against mismanagement by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government on Saturday in Taipei, many of the world’s most important newspapers failed to cover the event. Those that did relied for the most part on wire agencies rather than on-site reporters — the result of many years of budget and staff cutbacks at news organizations, which now only maintain reporters in major cities or dispatch them to “important” events.
What worries us, however, is not that leading newspapers do not perceive Taiwan as important enough to have journalists posted here, especially when “important” often implies massive violence as in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. What makes us pause is the oftentimes erroneous reporting about Taiwan — willful or accidental — that is being fed to the global community and how uncritically wire copy is treated by news outlets, which allows bias or outright misrepresentation to pass as news.
Leaving behind eight long years of skewed reporting on former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who for some news agencies was the agent provocateur par excellence, who never failed to “anger” and “provoke” Beijing, or “alienate” Washington with his “extremism” and “separatism,” the post-Chen era promised to bring with it a sea change in reporting on Taiwan and its new president, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
At long last, the elected leader of Taiwan was “charismatic” and “Harvard-educated,” the epitome of “pragmatism” who was seeking to make “peace” with long-time “rival” China. During the presidential election, many agencies threw their supposed journalistic neutrality out the window and unashamedly supported Ma and the KMT by trumpeting the promises of an immediate fix to the economy that the previous government under Chen had “mismanaged.”
What happened after this surge of optimism, however, was that with the Democratic Progressive Party shaken to its core by twin electoral defeats, scandal and financial troubles, global news agencies continued to pound it and call it a “troublemaker.”
It is no surprise, therefore, that some news agencies’ coverage of the rally on Saturday misrepresented the event, with at least two different agencies reporting that tens of thousands of “separatists” were protesting against Ma’s efforts to improve relations with China. Not only was this characterization wrong, but it was dangerous, as it implied that Taiwanese — or at least the “separatists” — are against peace, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Aside from the perhaps impatient discontent with the KMT administration’s handling of the economy and the failure of Ma to live up to his promises, what the tens of thousands of Taiwanese who rallied on Saturday were protesting was the speed at which he has sought rapprochement with Beijing and the long series of concessions he has made to achieve this, with no apparent sign of reciprocity on China’s part.
It was this — fear that the nation’s sovereignty is being compromised — that the “separatists” opposed. None of those who took to the street, however, would argue that defending Taiwan’s sovereignty cannot be accompanied by improved relations with Beijing. In fact, achieving the former is contingent on the latter, and anyone who says otherwise would be laughed out of town and rightly dubbed an extremist.
Sadly, without such precision and nuance, the rest of the world, which has very little time to devote to issues in far-away Taiwan, will be left with the impression that Taiwanese “separatists” are extremists who oppose peace and who are thus unworthy of their time or help.
Unless Hollywood movies like Greenland, Deep Impact, and Armageddon have predictive powers and a rogue space rock is heading our way, stopping Chinese Communist Party expansionism is likely to prove the single most challenging and dangerous problem of our lifetimes. How can the United States, Taiwan, and other liberal democracies prepare for and prevent attacks from China? How can Washington bolster Taipei’s confidence when it doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a real country and, so far, lacks the political will to make major adjustments to its ossified China policy and Taiwan policy? How can Taiwan make itself heard on the world stage when
Hypersonic weapons are defined as armaments capable of traveling at speeds faster than Mach 5 and can be broadly classified into two types: hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV) and hypersonic cruise missiles. The former are launched into the upper atmosphere by ballistic missiles. The vehicle is then separated from the booster to maneuver, or glide, toward its target. The latter can be launched from a jet plane or rocket to reach supersonic speed before igniting a scramjet engine to achieve hypersonic speeds. As the US engages in a great-power competition with China and Russia, all three countries are racing to field hypersonic
The number of people emigrating from Hong Kong has been rapidly increasing, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data show, with the territory’s population dropping by 110,000 people from 2019 to this year. China’s imposition of a National Security Law has clearly triggered a massive population outflow. However, not only people but also foreign businesses are leaving Hong Kong. For example, Vanguard Group, the world’s second-largest asset management company, VF Corp and Sony Interactive Entertainment have moved their top regional management from Hong Kong to Singapore. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury goods company, has also relocated staff
Double Ten Day, Oct. 10 every year, is an important day for Taiwan, as it marks the Republic of China’s (ROC) National Day. Major holidays are usually a time for celebration and commemorative activities, but among all the clamor and excitement, Double Ten reflects one essential fact: that Taiwan is still not a normalized society. As usual, there was a large parade in front of the Presidential Office Building, displaying to the world Taiwan’s social diversity and its soft and hard power, and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) gave an address, relaying her message to the nation and to the world, while the