Sunday, April 06, 2008

Incompetence or China’s very own “Mighty Wurlitzer”?

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) victory in the presidential election has provided a number of case studies in how some international wire agencies continue to misrepresent events in Taiwan and, in the same breath, to depict President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as a “troublemaker” who should always be doubted.

The latest instance involves the so-called “1992 consensus,” which, in its odd rhetorical gymnastics, has it that while Taipei and Beijing agree to there being “one China,” they disagree in their interpretation of what it means. As the KMT’s Su Chi (蘇起), a former Mainland Affairs Chairman with a well-earned reputation for making things up, has admitted that the term, which first emerged weeks before Chen’s inauguration in 2000, was (his) fabrication, the case should be closed. Instead, in step with the KMT’s attempt to resuscitate the concept, some wire agencies have either failed to mention that the term is a political contrivance or, more conspicuously, will write something like Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian claims that the “1992 consensus” was invented by Su Chi.

What such writing does — especially after years of castigating Chen — is put doubt into the reader’s mind by making him wonder if Chen’s “claim” isn’t just another one of his “dirty tricks” to “cause trouble,” when instead it should be clear that there exists no such thing as a “1992 consensus.” Why put words into Chen’s mouth when the actual culprit has himself confessed? Why the second-hand reference, if only to divert the reader’s attention? A similar tactic has also been used repeatedly on the matter of the 1,400 or so short-range missiles Beijing aims at Taiwan. “Chen claims that China is targeting …” No! Imagery intelligence, the US and Taiwanese defense establishment state that so on and so forth. Beijing itself doesn’t deny that fact.

Again, the above disinformation is either the result gross incompetence on the part of some wire agencies, or the outcome of Beijing’s very own “Mighty Wurlitzer” propaganda machine. Either way, readers are being duped.

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