The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Vancouver on Saturday asked Canadian daily Metro to issue a correction for the headline of a story it carried that mistook Taiwan for Thailand.
The newspaper on Friday published an Associated Press article in its Vancouver edition about the military coup in Thailand, which was accompanied by a photograph of protesters in Bangkok.
It also ran a report on the Canadian government’s reaction to the coup next to the main story.
However, the article’s headline said that the coup had occurred in Taiwan, not Thailand.
“The title, which reads: ‘Government overthrown in Taiwan as military stages bloodless coup,’ is inaccurate and misleading as it was in Thailand that the coup took place, not Taiwan,” TECO said in a statement.
“Except for the title, the report did not make any other false allusions about Taiwan. To avoid further confusion and misunderstandings, this office has immediately requested that the Metro correct the mistake,” it added.
The office said the paper is to run the correction in its edition today.
Although the daily has reportedly taken the link to the story with the erroneous headline off its Web site, netizens took photos of the article in the Metro’s print edition and posted them on Facebook and Twitter, generating a flurry of responses.
“So, to be clear, Taiwan is not the home of pad thai or tom yam goong, and the Taiwanese military has kindly refrained from overthrowing its democratically elected government,” Brian Glucroft wrote on his blog.
“I recommend the Vancouver Metro staff take a visit to Taiwan. If I am there at the same time, I would be happy to treat them to some of Taiwan’s many delicious local specialties. Afterwards, they should be less likely to ever confuse it with Thailand,” he wrote.
Canadian Craig Smith posted a picture of the story on Facebook, saying that the country’s newspapers had “outdone themselves.”
“Taiwan’s government should take advantage of Canadian ignorance and start raking in the tourist dollars as Asia’s top beach destination. Fill up those beach resorts! Get a few betel nut girls on stage and tell the stupid foreigners that they’re ladyboys. Clearly, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” he said.
Fellow Canadian Joel Charron, an English teacher in Taiwan, said that anyone with a basic knowledge of geography and an interest in and understanding of world affairs should know the difference between Taiwan and Thailand.
“The error is in the headline, not the article itself. It looks like a problem with attention to detail. We all have mental lapses and make mistakes from time to time. It’s more noticeable when it’s in a newspaper,” Charron said. “They need to improve their proofreading.”
He added that the editor of Metro was probably not the only person in Canada who confuses Taiwan with Thailand.
“When I first got here [Taiwan], some people back in Canada thought I was in Thailand. I got concerned e-mails after the tsunami in 2004, asking if I was safe,” he said.
As for any effects the mistake could have, Charron said Thailand has been in the news a lot lately and one headline should not cause confusion or prevent foreigners from coming to Taiwan.
Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Wayne Liu (劉喜臨) said the incident has served to remind the bureau to work harder to promote Taiwan abroad so foreigners will not keep confusing it with Thailand.
“We will also ask our office in the North America to inform the newspaper about the error,” he said.
A free newspaper, Metro is published by Sweden-based Metro International. The daily’s print edition claims to reach 1.8 million readers a day in Canada.
This story has been corrected since it was first published.
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