Monday, November 28, 2005

Watching America

This article came with my Google news search email (keywords: Taiwan and Media).

It turns out the the editor William Kern used to work as an editor at the Taiwan News.

The idea is interesting - to provide articles in translation from around the world to show Americans an unvarnished view of how America is portrayed abroad. According to the article linked above, they only provide articles in translation and not English-language editions of foreign publications. However, I believe the articles from People's Daily are just the English-language versions. I'll keep my eye out for interesting Chinese-language articles they might be interested in publishing ...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Paraphrase of the Day

From the Taipei Times: [Premier Frank Hsieh] added that since people abroad generally pay no attention to local newspaper coverage or TV talk shows, they have a better perspective on what's really happening in the country.

What a startling statement by the premier. I can't decide if he's thoroughly correct or thoroughly incorrect.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


At this website, which is supposed to be "The E-Government Entry Point of Taiwan," there's a link up to an article called "Chinese Taipei (sic) committed to striving for a brighter future for Asia-Pacific." The article comes from the Taiwan Journal; I guess the phrasing has something to do with APEC. But I don't much care about the whys and wherefores. No website of the Taiwanese government should ever be caught participating in this "Chinese Taipei" nonsense.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mahjong Defamation?

I’ve been asking colleagues about this Lee Teng-hui defamation verdict. Lee was ordered by the court of first instance to pay NT$10m to James Soong for saying he went to play mahjong during a post-election rally last year. The verdict apparently hinged on whether or not Lee made it clear he was referring to Soong. Two pan-green lawmakers got off the hook because they didn’t make it clear. Am I the only person who doesn’t understand how Lee’s comment can be construed as anything other than satirical?

My colleague just explained to me that Soong left an April 10, 2004 rally for 30 minutes and so there was no way he could have played a round of mahjong, which would take at least 90 minutes? So Lee exaggerated. The remark he made – “one went home to sleep [presumably Lien Chan] and one went to play mahjong [presumably Soong]” – seems to me quite offhand and not intended to be taken seriously. I asked if the “playing mahjong” is code for something else. Apparently not. But the fact that one gambles while playing mahjong puts a negative cast on it. Would this count as defamation in the West? I’d appreciate any explanations.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

GIO Position

The GIO has posted its position paper on the TVBS case onlne. One has the immediate impulse to stop reading at the first paragraph.

In an interpellation on October 7, 2005, Legislator Tseng Tsahn-deng raised evidence of forgery and withholding information on foreign shareholdings by Liann Yee Production Co., Ltd. (widely known as TVBS) when obtaining its business license, and demanded that the Government Information Office (GIO), the authority in charge of radio and television affairs, investigate whether any unlawful practice was involved.

The pan blues are also asking the GIO to act on FTV's shareholding structure, but will the GIO act in this case? Why not? The only answer seems to be that the GIO is not acting to preserve the rule of law, but in order to punish its enemies. See Michael Turton's post from yesterday. The View from Taiwan: GIO Budget Slashed

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quote of the Day

"We will make sure that incidents like some Central Election Commission members succumbing to political pressure will not happen again."

KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu, making it clear what sort of people her party will nominate for the National Communications Commission

Saturday, November 12, 2005


This dialectic between the Taipei Times and Su Chi is shaping up to be a real cat fight.

It's not hard to believe that Su Chi actually peruses the English-language newspapers daily. There are enough small errors in his letter yesterday to believe it was written by a non-native speaker (and not edited by a native speaker), but it's quite readable. Too bad he can't seem to get his facts straight.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

News you can use!

I've just realized something about The China Post. And that's a big deal -- so ossified is this paper that the last time I realized anything about it was 15 years ago.

Looking at today's front page, seeing that the number-three headline is, if you can fathom this, "Democrats win in New Jersey, Virginia, California," it's dawned on me that The Post not only wants to live in a one-party KMT state -- that much is obvious -- but it actually thinks it still lives in a one-party state. Don't follow my reasoning?

Well, what I mean is that The Post's news judgement, if you dare to call it that, is that minor US elections constitute the third-most important thing they could possibly inform their readers of today. And this might have been true back when US soldiers made up a big fraction of The Post's readers. But today? Perhaps you could run the French riots number three, instead of the voting in New Jersey and Virginia and California? Just maybe?

No, that's not how The Post looks at the world. As far as those guys are concerned, the US soldiers have never left, no transition to democracy has ever taken place, and James Soong was never photographed rooting around on his belly like a pig in order to kiss the Taiwanese dirt. May the good old days never end!

I know, there's no honor in whipping a dead dog. But sometimes even a dead dog can affront your sensibilities.
Quote of the Day

"You cannot just accuse any man with a penis of having the intention to rape a woman."

DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung, commenting in some incomprehensible way on whether or not voters' identification cards should be stamped at polling places.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I can't wait!

In the wake of a just-completed trip to Taiwan by a Chinese tourism official (who was, officially at least, visiting in his private capacity), it now seems increasingly likely that Taiwan will be hosting increased numbers of Chinese visitors in coming years. And if this comes to pass -- doesn't your heart thrill with anticipation when you contemplate the myriad ways in which pro-independence forces will deliver messages of defiance and, it may be hoped, raw obscenity, to their, ahem, mainland compatriots?

  • The graffiti on the road to Sun Moon Lake!
  • The inflammatory leaflets slipped under hotel-room doors!
  • The provocative tai du t-shirts!
  • Mass, coordinated moonings!
  • Whatever else issues forth from the fevered brains of the greenest greens!

Folks, this is going to be the most fantastic thing ever! Please, oh, please let it happen!
Becoming governor of Taiwan Province...

isn't the limit of Lien Chan and James Soong's ambition for themselves in the pan-China that will exist after they've signed away Taiwan. These guys want to be movers and shakers in China itself. Or so this Christian Science Monitor piece indicates:

"[pan-blue politicians'] Chinese interlocutors hinted that Taiwan could one day play an important role in myriad areas, including the future democratization of China, and its modernization. Many KMT officials seem to agree..."

If the Liens and Soongs of the world really did enjoy the idea of participating in China's eventual democratization, then I'd have to give them some credit for that. But in fact, neither man enjoys democracy in any form. What I think these guys really imagine for themselves in the post-handover world is to live amid the adulation that's due a despot's chief bootlickers. Oh, the heroes they'd be in the mother country.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Media BS

My colleagues tell me that the reason the GIO didn’t renew the ETTV News S license back on Aug. 2 was to send a message to all news channels that they had better slant their bias in favor of the DPP in upcoming city and county elections here in Taiwan. I had thought the non-renewal was an honest and ill-conceptualized attempt to force news channels to adopt higher standards. I am starting to think my colleagues are right.

For the GIO to say, “we’re simply doing our job” is predictable and an understandable rationalization for considering the revocation of TVBS’s license on the grounds that it is foreign-owned (by Hong Kong interests). A DPP lawmaker was quoted in the Taipei Times today as saying “We refuse to tolerate any intimidation exerted by a media outlet that is entirely controlled and financed by Chinese investors” (article here). The way I read this, he is saying that the GIO is being asked to put pressure on TVBS because it dares to criticize the government (and by extension, the DPP). To all who share this view, I say: Grow some more layers of skin and learn to truly respect the freedom of the press. Taiwan simply won’t be taken seriously internationally if it fails to exhibit sincerity when it claims to embrace press freedom.

I’m not taking a stand on whether or not TVBS should be licensed in Taiwan, but the way this issue was raised is all wrong.

Update (a few minutes later): I just finished posting this and immediately came across this article in Chinese. It says that President Chen said today that no media outlets were going to be pulled on his watch – as an expression of his commitment to press freedom. That’s more like it. I hope DPP rank and file politicians take note.

Update (11/8): This is a bit dated, but it’s the first I’ve noticed of an international press freedom organization mentioning the TVBS situation. In this case the International Federation of Journalists. I have to say I’m not that impressed with the accuracy of IFJ and RSF (Reporters without Borders) commentaries.