Friday, August 12, 2005

Getting it wrong. Again.

It's never a huge surprise when a reporter mischaracterizes the United States' policy on Taiwan. But this particular factual disaster, from a Reuters story on virtual war games in Taiwan, really distinguishes itself as idiotic:

"The United States recognizes the mainland as China's sole legitimate government -- the 'one-China' policy -- but in a deliberately ambiguous piece of foreign policy it is also obliged by law to help Taiwan defend itself."

No. the "one China" policy, as professed to by the U.S., says that there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of it. The ambiguity has to do with which government is the legitimate representative of that one China. The ambiguity has grown into an anachronism over the years, because Taiwan no longer claims (except in the R.O.C. Constitution) to be the rightful government of the land across the Strait. But still, ambiguity is the very essence of the United States' "one China" position. The fact that the U.S. is obligated under the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taiwan provide for its defense doesn't particularly contribute to the ambiguity. The ambiguity is the policy itself.

Now, to hammer on a different section of the Reuters quote -- "The United States recognizes the mainland as China's sole legitimate government" -- what in the world is that even supposed to mean? Read naively, by a moron, it would seem to indicate that Taiwan just is a part of China, and that the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty isn't even in question. At least not by anyone in Washington.

Of course, Reuters has developed a real reputation over the years for generating this sort of pro-China claptrap. So the mistakes in this article probably represent more than just lazy journalism -- instead, they amount to deliberate and ideologically-driven misinformation.


yomama said...

Every time I read an explanation of the relationship between these two entities, I feel less silly about not understanding it. Now I see that all ordinary assumptions (sensible ones) about "doings" between (and among) governments must be put aside so that reasoning can start from a position of near absurdity.

DogOfTheSouth said...

That's not a bad summary of the situation. But to understand why things must be so absurd, here's the fact to focus on: Taiwan is in fact an independent country, but saying so is forbidden. That's what all the absurdity springs from.