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"Taiwan is not a province of China. The PRC flag has never flown over Taiwan."

Stick that in your clipboards and paste it, you so-called "lazy journalists"!

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The simple truth: Taiwan is a nation

Dan Bloom reveals The New York Times' codified bias against Taiwan

While telling us about a NYT article on Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming, former Taipei Times writer Dan Bloom reveals some details in an op-ed today of how the international media goes about belittling Taiwan's status:
Most news outlets around the world continue to play the game of appeasing China by pretending that Taiwan is a mere island and not a nation, and they routinely send out news bulletins, editorials and multipage feature articles referring to this bustling nation as a mere "island." From the Associated Press to Reuters, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from BBC to Le Monde, Taiwan is just an island, and never a country.

When asked why, a high-placed editor in New York once told this writer: "We must remain neutral and not take sides."

But one must counter that argument with this question: Just how does referring to Taiwan as an island and not as a nation in print make an international news agency "neutral"?


According to the copy desk at the New York Times in Manhattan, Taiwan is not to be referred to as a country or a nation or even an island nation, except in a quoted comment by a person being interviewed. The Times' reporters themselves are commanded to refer to Taiwan in every instance as an island and never a country. It is a written rule of the newsroom, re-examined every few years, but never changed.
The context about Wang Chien-ming in which the above was contained was that NYT writer Tyler Kepner managed to say of Wang in his article, "At 26, he is a national hero in his home country, where he endorses computers and potato chips." In these times, small things can still mean a lot.

Thanks, Tyler! Thanks, Dan!

Matters at hand: , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Kelly said...

"But one must counter that argument with this question: Just how does referring to Taiwan as an island and not as a nation in print make an international news agency "neutral"?'

Referring to Taiwan as an island is indeed neutral. Taiwan is an island. Whether it is a nation or not is not addressed by this label, because Taiwan is indeed an island. Calling it an island doesn't implicate that it is a country or it is not a country. It's not taking China's side. Calling Taiwan a "renegade province" would be taking sides, but the matter-of-fact description of Taiwan as an island is certainly neutral. Are people in Taiwan going to object that they are on an island? If I refer to Japan as "the islands of Japan" does that imply that Japan is not a nation?

Thou dost protest too much.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Wulingren said...

Actually, there is more than one island, and Taiwan only comprises one of them, albeit the largest and most populated. Do reporters actually refer to Japan as the islands?

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Shanghai Slim said...

I agree with Kelly (above).

I teach English in mainland China,, and when referring to Taiwan, I always use the term "island" precisely because it's neutral. "Island" is not a political term, it's a geographical one.

Really, is there a single person in either Taiwan or the PRC who would dispute that Taiwan is an island?

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Referring to it as an Island is clearly biased. Previous commentator makes a good point. When's the last time you heard Ireland or Iceland or New Zealand or Britain referred to as an Island rather than a country?

I feel ill watching our craven western leaders belittle Taiwan in this way. All to keep the Chinese interested in their wares.

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Wulingren said...

My only response to Shanghai Slim is that once you come from the "Mainland" to this "island" and actually delve deeper into life here, talk to people, and learn a little about the history, you begin to see things differently. Yes, island is a geographical term, but by using a geographical term instead of a political term, you are taking sides. Might as well refer to China as the continent.

At 11:48 PM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Following up on Kelly's comment up top, Shanghai Slim wrote:
- - -
"Island" is not a political term, it's a geographical one.
- - -

On a post which has led quite a few visitors here, commenter slatkin asked a question using nearly the same words as Kelly:
- - -
If I refer to "the islands of Japan" or "archipelago of Indonesia" am I implying that those are not nations? Or am I merely stating a geographical fact?
- - -
[Emphasis mine]

Here's a repeat of the relevant part of my reply:
- - -
If you wrote down a rule like the NYT's, you would be "stating a geographic fact" in order to avoid stating a simple political reality, so yes, "implying that those are not nations" would be exactly what you were doing.

The reason it's not "neutral" is that it's acceptable to the government of China but not to the people of Taiwan.


Live large! Like nausicaa says above [in the Peking Duck comments], simply call Taiwan "Taiwan"! But don't make it policy to call it "the island" as an avoidance when referring to "the country/nation."

It's a Taiwanese thing, but a few of you could at least try to understand. (Many thanks to those who do!)
- - -

Let's not forget context, okay?

Slim, wouldn't you agree that "mainland" carries a political meaning when added in front of "China" in discussions involving Taiwan? If you had simply said you taught "in China," do you think there could possibly have been any ambiguity -- especially with "Shanghai" in front of your name? In the context of this discussion, your redundant use of the word "mainland" tints my perception of your "geographical" comment.

Wang Chien-ming (AKA "建仔") as a "national hero" -- are we talking about geographical matters or political ones? Do you believe newspapers should have policies requiring reporters -- in the interests of faux "neutrality" -- to call him "the island's hero"?

Kelly, there are already way too many distortions of Taiwan in the international media which lead people to falsely conclude that it is part of China. That is precisely the result of policies like the ones demanding Taiwan be called "the island." Taiwan is a country/nation which has its own government, flag, currency, laws, passports, military, Internet domain (.tw), international country calling code (886) separate and distinct from the PRC. How, then, is calling it a nation "non-neutral"? Just because China disputes it and forces most of the world to follow suit via the "economic terrorism" of its "one China" policy?

Tim Maddog

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Wulingren said...

In the past, when I've been in China, I never refered to Taiwan in conversation as anything other than Taiwan. I never said "the island" or "Chinese Taiwan" or "Chinese Taipei." Nobody ever seemed to react to that, and they usually responded with "Taiwan" as well. Of course, saying "Taiwan" doesn't make a distinction between nation or province.

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever do the news agencies ever refer to the UK as an island? NEVER.
Ditto with Australia, NZ, Japan or Greenland. They are always called NATIONS. Taiwan should be called a NATION or at least an ISLAND NATION by the New Yawrk Times, but they are chicken. That reporter snuck it in, i guess. Smart move, sir.


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