Hello, readers – today I welcome Craig Reeder, who has an excellent post about how the US media misrepresents the Taiwan situation. I knew Craig from the 1980s, when we both worked in China. Let me know what you think!
The Media Misrepresents the Taiwan Situation
By Craig Reeder
I usually have full faith in our mainstream news media to report issues truthfully, but I have noticed that they have been seriously misrepresenting the situation in Taiwan. I don’t think it is deliberate, but nevertheless, they are giving the public a skewed and misleading picture of the situation in Taiwan and its stance toward independence.
I’d like to set the record straight and also solicit views from anyone else who is interested in a rational, mutually respectful exchange of views. (Full disclosure: I lived in Taiwan with a Chinese family for nearly a year, and later spent 9 years in mainland China, so I have a personal involvement in these matters.)
There are two issues that I am concerned about. First, the media constantly makes statements like this: “China….views the island as part of its national territory” (TIME magazine 8/28/22) or “China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory” (AP News, 8/23/22) or “China’s ruling Communist Party claims the self-ruled democracy of Taiwan as its own territory – despite never having governed it…” (CNN 8/3/22.)
The above statements are all true but there is a glaring omission: Not only does China view Taiwan as its own territory, but so does the United States along with 177 other nations out of the 193 members of the United Nations. By omitting this very salient fact, the media is suggesting that China’s claim is suspect, if not illegitimate, when in fact nearly all the world has officially acknowledged Taiwan as an integral part of China.
The truth is that this is a matter of China’s national sovereignty, and therefore any foreigners joining the dispute over Taiwan’s status are meddling in the internal affairs of China. And we remember how Americans felt when we discovered the Russians were meddling in our last election.
The second issue is that the public is forming a simplistic image of a heroic upswelling of Taiwanese people struggling to be free. The truth is far more complicated. The most recent opinion poll in Taiwan, as reported by Newsweek (8/29/22) shows that roughly 2/3 of the populace favors independence “at some point in time.” But when broken down to more specific cases, fully 57% favored maintenance of the “status quo” either indefinitely or “to be decided at a later date.” In fact, only 5% wanted independence “at the earliest possibility.” This is a very different picture altogether. Those of us who have lived in China recognize and respect the Chinese people for their eminently practical approach to nearly everything, and this is a case in point.
When our usually trusted media misrepresent the Taiwan situation so significantly, it poses a grave risk that the US might make horribly bad decisions, even to the extent of provoking war. Remember the “yellow cake uranium” case that led up to America’s disastrous invasion of Iraq?
Personally speaking, I am opposed to war in all cases except for defending our nation, and I do not want to see a war with China. Not only would it be devastating for us, but it would take a horrific toll on the wonderful people of China on both sides of the Taiwan strait, the people who were always so kind and gracious to me and my family for so many years.
There are always multiple sides to any story, but that’s my two bits.