With President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) visiting Central America last week, and the military coup in Honduras that saw President Manuel Zelaya exiled to Costa Rica, that part of the world has featured more prominently in Taiwanese media than it usually does. Still, this does not mean that the media — and sometimes the government — will get their facts right.
While doing some fact-checking for an article I was editing last week, I came upon a funny bit of news — on the Presidential Office Web site, of all places. During his remarks ahead of the inauguration of Panaman President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal on July 1, Ma is quoted by the office’s Web site as having said that “the ROC [Republic of China] and Panama have a longstanding relationship, with diplomatic relations between the countries established back in 1909. This year marks the centennial of the founding of diplomatic ties between the two.”
One-hundredth anniversary of ROC-Panama ties. Wait — that’s impossible, given that the Republic of China was founded on Jan. 1, 1912. In 1909, it would have been the Qing Dynasty, not the ROC, establishing diplomatic relations with Panama. (Even more inaccurate was the same Presidential Office Web site on May 22, 2008, which had Ma saying that “the ROC (Taiwan) and Panama have close relations dating back many years. The two countries established diplomatic ties in 1909.”)
But who cares about such trifles, such little details, when the Ma administration continuously attempts to blur the lines between Taiwan and China at the political, epistemological and cultural level?