Tue, Dec 30, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Foreign media clear on identity


Foreign media workers and academic experts said yesterday that Taiwan's media have more trouble dealing with the name of the country than foreign media.

"Only Taiwanese media have the Taiwan-naming issue. When covering news related to Taiwan, all major foreign news agencies simply refer to Taiwan as `Taiwan' and China as `China,' and yet certain Taiwanese news agencies still refer to Taiwan as `Republic of China,'" said Laurence Eyton, deputy editor in chief at the Taipei Times.

Eyton, speaking at a seminar on media monitoring, said the state-owned Central News Agency still refers to Taiwan as `Republic of China' and China as `mainland China.'

"The Taipei Times was founded in 1999 to project a real Taiwanese perspective in English, not only in Taiwan but, very importantly, also overseas. At the time there was almost no news available in English overseas except for the highly distorted propaganda, stressing Taiwan's Chineseness and zeal for unification, of the then KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] government," he said.

Eyton was responsible during the launch of the Taipei Times for coming up with the terms for Taiwan-related matters.

"What I had decided on was that the general rule of thumb would be calling Taiwan `Taiwan' and China `China.' If there are special circumstances, such as a direct quote, we might also include `Republic of China' but then we would add a sentence to say that this was Taiwan's formal name," he said.

Linda Gail Arrigo, international affairs officer for Green Party Taiwan, offered an explanation for Taiwan's identity crisis.

"On the one hand, Taiwanese may be confused by the historical events that led to the Taiwan of today; on the other hand, it is also a habit that is hard to let go of," Arrigo said.

She said only 3 percent of the world's population acknowledges Taiwan as the Republic of China.

"These 3 percent are people in the few countries with which Taiwan has diplomatic ties. For instance, US electronic media refer to Taiwan as `Taiwan,'" Arrigo said.

Arrigo said that if "Republic of China" appears in an article, it usually appears in an appendix or at the end of a long article.

"In such a case, `Republic of China' is there just as a supplementary explanation," Arrigo said.

Stephane Corcuff, a lecturer at Sciences Po (The Institute of Political Studies) in Paris, said French media make a clear distinction between Taiwan and China.

"When describing cross-strait situations, French media call Taiwan `Taiwan' and China `China,' not `ROC' and `PRC,'" Corcuff said.

Corcuff, who specializes in the study of the identity issue, personally refers to "China" as "Asian Mainland" to deviate from any political associations.

"I am probably the only one in France to use this special term to refer to China. Indeed, even many intelligent French individuals are confused by the different names representing Taiwan," Corcuff said.

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