Sun, Feb 24, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Lawmaker pans ‘negative’ MOFA film

By Chris Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporters

A film on the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which was sanctioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could tarnish Taiwan’s international image with its negative depiction of Japan, an opposition lawmaker said yesterday.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) demanded that the ministry immediately pull the video, the first of a three-part series, saying it has jeopardized Taiwan’s national interests.

The film, which underlines Taiwan’s territorial claim over the islands — which are also claimed by Japan, where they are known as the Senkakus, and by China — was released on Wednesday on the video-sharing Web site YouTube and the ministry’s official Web site.

Adopting a format similar to a local political talk show, the film calls Japan’s move to incorporate the islands into its territory in the late 1890s “sneaky” and a “conspiracy.”

However, China was completely left out in the film, Hsiao told a press conference yesterday.

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has become an “administration of entertainment” by bantering about and mocking a foreign country in this way on the serious subject of a territorial dispute, she added.

The ramifications of the film, with its “distorted wording” and assertion that sides with China, could cost Taiwan dearly, Hsiao said, because Taiwan and Japan are set to meet for negotiations on fishing rights around the islands.

The move, which suggests a Taiwanese attempt to arouse anti-Japan sentiments, could also send the wrong signal to the US, which has called for all claimants of the islets to avoid provocative gestures, she said.

Hsiao also questioned the bidding process for the film, which had a NT$2 million (US$67,458) budget, saying that the ministry’s public announcement and the bidding announcement both came on Wednesday.

“It seemed to me that production of the film had been finished before the bid — a limited tendering — was announced. The ministry should offer a clear explanation,” Hsiao said.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平), who met Hsiao after the press conference, said the film intended to promote the government’s position on the Diaoyutais to Taiwanese, rather than to foreign audiences.

The ministry tried to explain the government’s assertion of Taiwan’s sovereignty over the islands “in a lighter way that could be more appealing to Taiwanese,” she said.

“The film did not try to smear anyone and was based on historical facts,” Shih said.

According to the ministry, the second and third parts of the film, which would focus on the development of the territorial claims after World War II and Ma’s recent proposal of an “East China Sea peace initiative,” have been finished.

Separately yesterday, Ma repeated his call for a peaceful solution to disputes over the sovereignty of the Diaoyutais and said that the nation would not make any concessions on Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Ma, in a meeting at the Presidential Office with chairman and president of the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun, expressed concerns about the tensions in East Asia over the continuous disputes over the islands between China and Japan.

He stressed that Taiwan has proposed peaceful solutions to the sovereignty dispute over the islands, and expected China and Japan put aside their disputes and focus on the joint development of the rich resources in the area.

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