Tue, Sep 30, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Ministry protests mistranslation

AL-JAZEERA ERROR:The official protest about the translation of remarks by President Ma Ying-jeou led to an apology from the Doha-based news provider

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Al-Jazeera last night offered an apology for its recent report quoting President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as saying that “Taiwan is the only place in China where we are able to practice democracy,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said.

The apology came after the ministry earlier yesterday instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Saudi Arabia to demand that the news outlet, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, provide a written explanation for the “translation error” and then make the necessary correction.

Al-Jazeera English, the English version of the Arabic-language news network, aired an episode of Talk to al-Jazeera at 1pm on Saturday with an interview with Ma and posted an English-language report and video on its Web site.

According to the ministry, the interview was conducted on Sept. 16 at the Presidential Office. Throughout the 25-minute interview, Ma spoke in Mandarin in response to questions asked in English.

To a question on Beijing’s controversial election rules for Hong Kong, Ma was quoted as saying: “Taiwan is the only place in China where we are able to practice democracy... We are worried about the developments in Hong Kong,” in the text report and in the video subtitles.

Kao yesterday said that al-Jazeera mistranslated the term huaren (華人) as “China.”

The ministry has given al-Jazeera a copy of its English-language transcript in which that term is translated as: “societies with a primarily ethnic Chinese makeup,” Kao said.

Quoting the English-version transcript, Kao said Ma told the network: “People from Hong Kong always come to Taiwan to observe elections, as they understand that — of societies with a primarily ethnic Chinese makeup — Taiwan has the most developed democracy.”

The Chinese-language transcript is available on the Presidential Office’s Web site.

According to the Presidential Office’s Chinese transcript, asked about what effects the model China has applied to Hong Kong would have on Taiwan, Ma said Taiwan has made it clear that “one country, two systems” would not be accepted by the government or Taiwanese.

“If the system is a good one, it should be ‘one country, one system,’” Ma said, according to the transcript.

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