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Thursday, October 26, 2006

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Bloomberg Blue Bias

STOP_MA volunteered to bring home the bacon with a guest blog on more bias and error in the international media. Enjoy!

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Bloomberg Blue Bias Barefaced
STOP_MA

Much has been written in this blog about the blatant pro-blue bias that is sadly so prevalent in the western corporate media these days. One can speculate as to why these so-called objective journalists continue to tell half-truths or to simply get it wrong on basic issues affecting Taiwan in the international community.

Sheer laziness in today’s big media can partially explain why details are not investigated or why one side of the story is reported but not the other. However, when an established international media outlet breaks with news about a major policy revelation concerning a political party that, in two years, may drastically change the dynamics of a global flash-point, you would think they would make more than a half-hearted effort to provide a story that is as objective and as accurate as possible.

The breaking news to which I refer is KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou’s proposed “peace” pact with China. The well-known international media company: Bloomberg.com. The Article: "Taiwan Presidential Hopeful to Seek China Peace Pact”.

Of course, the implications of Ma’s plan if he should become President will be dramatic. So, it is of no surprise that this story has generated political reverberations throughout Taiwan. Informed readers of this blog will be well aware of both the pan-green and pan-blue points of view in this debate. However, less-informed international readers may, again, form a decidedly less balanced opinion after reading this narrative (borderline opinion piece) by James Peng.

Here is an excerpt. (emphasis is mine, denotes strong bias and/or factual errors):
The Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang, lost the presidency to the Democratic Progressive Party's Chen in 2000, ending their postwar hold on power. In his six years as president, Chen has provoked Beijing by calling Taiwan a sovereign state, proposing an overhaul of the island's 59-year-old constitution, and trying to get Taiwan a United Nations seat.

Almost 60 years after the civil war's end, those policies are prompting warmer relations between the heirs of Mao and Chiang. Ma's predecessor Lien Chan met President Hu Jintao in the mainland last year, the highest-level talks between the two sides since 1949. China has offered trade concessions to woo Taiwan voters.

A peace agreement would help reduce security tensions in East Asia, where the U.S. is preoccupied with the North Korea nuclear crisis. It might also benefit Taiwan's $346 billion economy by allowing businesses to forge closer ties with the mainland. Taiwan companies have invested as much as $150 billion in mainland China, the island's largest trading partner.

Ma's offer of peace talks didn't include a commitment to move toward reunification, the goal of the government in Beijing. The Nationalists adhere to a ``one China'' principle agreed with the Communist government in 1992, which declares the mainland and Taiwan are part of the same country, though the two sides may have different interpretations of the term.
I will not bore you with analyses of why the words in bold are so egregiously biased. It should be obvious to anyone who follows the cross-strait situation that annexation of Taiwan by China is an official goal. It should also be obvious that China has done far more to provoke Taiwan (I wonder if Mr. Peng remembers that little piece of paper called “anti-secession law”). Moreover, it is conveniently forgotten that President Chen Shui-bian has tried on numerous occasions to encourage a productive dialogue between the two nations. Chen even gave his blessings (wrongly, in my opinion) to the first exchange between Lien and Hu – and even invited Hu to Taiwan, afterwards!! However, James Peng erroneously insinuates that this very exchange was merely a causation of a very difficult President in Taipei. As for the 1992 “consensus” – James Peng is simply rewriting history by telling us that such an agreement was made at the time, despite the fact that two official delegates who were at the meeting later confirmed that such an agreement is part of Nationalist party mythology. There is no “consensus.” He shows himself to be a complete journalistic fool, however, by asserting that China and Taiwan agreed to the premise that they are the same country! LOL! More laughable fawning over Ma Ying-jeou can be found by reading the rest of the piece yourself.

Alas, the last laugh will be with Mr. Peng, as he will continue to distort history, report on only one-side of the issue, and print blatant factual errors. Why am I confident of this prediction? Because I wrote James Peng about an article he wrote on October 13th. It was a piece about the failed recall efforts on President Chen a couple of weeks ago.

Amongst the bias in that article entitled, “Taiwan's Chen Survives Lawmakers' Second Attempt to Oust Him”, was a unique version of factual information – factual information that has been contradicted by every international news organization that has reported on this story.

Here’s the short excerpt containing the lie (emphasis mine):
A rally in Taipei on Oct. 10 drew several hundred thousand people, according to police, while a spokesman for Shih said 1.5 million participated.
Several hundred thousand – that would be recognized by anyone to be, at the very minimum, 300,000. However, I think most people would consider “several” to mean at least 400 to 500 thousand. Of course, the other part of this factual error is that he is confirming this number based on a Taipei police estimate.

When I politely wrote James Peng about this distortion, he replied and reaffirmed that, “several hundred thousand is what Taipei police told us that day.”

I wrote him back and provided him with four different international news agencies – including CNN, Reuters and even The China Post that stated explicitly that the Taipei police had estimated the attendance to be 125,000.

And here is the China Daily’s version (which Mr. Peng might have read, being based in Hong Kong):
Organizers had pledged to bring 2 million people to the streets around the "presidential" office, but police estimated 125,000 protesters took part in the march.
One would think that an objective journalist would question why his report was the only one (including China state-run media) that reported this number to the international community. I received no further replies from James Peng. And he did not send me any links to any other news organization that reported this number, as I had politely asked.

However, he did manage to get an interview from none other than Ma Ying-jeou.

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Thank you, STOP_MA! Maddog informs me that the BBC has used the phrase "apparent assassination attempt."

3 Comments:

At 2:15 AM, Blogger 在野外 - In The Field said...

Please bore me, more so than I am already. Why are the words so biased? I read the Bloomberg piece. It didn't seem factually incorrect to me, although it was fairly unexciting. I don't see any reason for you to get upset. You are just overly partisan. A nonsensical rant like this detracts from your cause. I have an open mind about the Taiwan issue. But after reading what you wrote, I only realised that there are pro-independence loonies just as blind and extreme as some of their opponents. As a tip, you could attract more people to your cause if you replace the partisan bile masquerading as commentary with sensible analysis.

 
At 11:01 AM, Blogger STOP Ma said...

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James Peng? Is that you?

It's good to see you have a blog to vent YOUR frustrations :>)

Good luck with that!
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At 5:25 AM, Blogger 在野外 - In The Field said...

i am not james peng. if you have a look at my blog, you'll see i am in tokyo. he is in taipei.

not pointing out why you think the words are biased and just insisting that they says a lot about your blog.

 

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