Sat, Mar 03, 2012 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Beijing and media manipulation

Beijing has reportedly drafted new policy guidelines for cross-strait relations that include reaching out to those who do not support the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), trying to exert more influence over the Taiwanese media and helping Taiwanese companies in China improve their operations. The trouble is, Beijing has already proven its ability to exert a great deal of influence over Taiwan’s media, and while its methods may be changing, the goal remains the same: annexation.

These new policies were reportedly the result of several brainstorming sessions among those in the Taiwan Affairs Office and others in charge of cross-strait affairs in the wake of Taiwan’s Jan. 14 elections and were supposedly in play during the recent visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中), which focused on the pro-green areas of southern Taiwan.

China has been ramping up its media manipulation ever since the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement was signed in June 2010. On Monday, the Foundation for the Advancement of Media Excellence noted that some Taiwanese newspapers had run news stories from China’s state media and published news reports paid for by China without informing their readers, with about 200 “ads” paid for by Chinese government agencies published in local newspapers last year.

The KMT government hasn’t complained or tried to take action because it is doing the same thing, with the foundation noting that the five biggest newspapers published more than 1,300 “ads” for the government in the second half of last year alone.

However, Beijing’s interest in additional manipulation of Taiwanese media has been sparked by its belief that local media outlets’ coverage helped convince many Taiwanese to support the so-called “1992 consensus” during the January elections, the Chinese-language United Daily News cited sources as saying.

Being able to determine the source of news is crucial to being an informed consumer and informed voter, and efforts by Beijing — or the KMT government — to hide their sponsorship of self-serving news articles and reports are despicable, and downright deadly to society, because the message that annexation is inevitable could easily become a drumbeat that few can march against.

No one should be in doubt of China’s intentions, even if it pretends to be playing nicer. Just ask the Chinese where playing nice will get them.

The Chinese were told this week the government plans to soften the slogans local authorities have used to push Beijing’s “one-child” policy. Instead of being told “We would rather scrape your womb than allow you to have a second child” or “If you don’t have your tubes tied, your house will be demolished,” they will hear “Caring for a girl means caring for the future of the nation,” the Shanghai Daily reported.

The paper said the National Population and Family Planning Commission wants to prevent zealous officials from “offending the public” or worsening social tensions.

The actual policy that has encouraged local family planning officials to use draconian measures, including forced late-term abortions, sterilization and monetary fines, to enforce the one-child policy is not being changed — nor are the quotas and targets that those officials have to meet — just the public facade is being polished.

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