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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oh, that Post!

Reckoned there was a storm a-comin' my way - turned out I reckoned wrong.

The China Post 英文中國郵報, "Taiwan's Leading English-Language Newspaper Since 1952". "Trapped in 1952" more like it, seeing as the Post still likes to view itself as the ideological English-language mouthpiece of an authoritarian one-party state, despite the fact that Taiwan has been a multi-party democracy with a free press (in theory, at least) since the middle of the 1990's. Throw in the poorly-translated China News Agency articles, using terms and expressions that were popular in the 1890's, not to mention sexist observations that haven't titillated most societies since Ike was in the White House, and you have "Taiwan's Most Entertaining English-Language Newspaper", at least.

Stuck in a time-warp though it may be, the editors of the China Post are aware of the fact that much of the world tends to overlook the Republic of China 中華民國. So when foreigners do pay attention, or at least stop by for a visit, the Post's writers get all excited (unless the visitor is a "troublemaker" like Rebiya Kadeer or the Dalai Lama). Take, for example, this opening paragraph from today's Prime Time supplement (italics are mine):

"This weekend's Beastie Music Festival is an ambitious endeavor. No fewer than 100 indie bands will perform on four musical stages, with a handful of acts coming from as far away as Japan and Korea."

Perhaps it's because I grew up in a huge landmass, but Japan and Korea don't seem all that far away to me. I can't imagine a music festival going on in my hometown of Sacramento, for example, and read the Sacramento Bee gushing how bands were coming from as far away as Seattle or Denver.

Ah, Japan. The (I assume) youthful Western entertainment writers employed by the China Post might get enthused about things that come from Taiwan's former colonial overseer, but the dinosaurs in charge of the paper still see the Empire of Japan 大日本帝国 and its Imperial Army 大日本帝国陸軍 when it comes to historical matters. Today's front page had a (very) short article ( on the indictment of a Taiwanese aboriginal publicity-hound...sorry, I mean legislator who has been indicted by Japanese authorities over an incident at the infamous Yasukuni Shrine 靖国神社...two years ago. But what was even more revealing was this example of historical revisionism found in what should have been a simple blurb for a hotel promotion (italics mine again):

"From now until the end of September, the (Leader Taroko Village) will be light [sic] out every night at [sic] after 8 p.m. to welcome guest [sic] and to celebrate the releasing of "Seediq Bale" by the director of Cape No. 7, Wei Te-shen [sic]. The movie centers on the history of Taroko heroes who fought the Japanese invasion during the 1930s."

The above paragraph refers to the Wushe (Musha) Incident 霧社事件, which you can read about here: For those of you who don't know your history, Japan and China fought a war from 1894-5, which resulted in China's defeat. In the Treaty of Shimonoseki 下関条約, the Qing Empire 清朝 ceded Taiwan to Japan, and Japanese forces landed on the northwest coast of the island in May of 1895. Resistance was fierce, but the Japanese soon assumed control of their new dependency (though the last rebellion wasn't put down until 1915). The point is that there was no "invasion" - Taiwan was handed over to Japan under the terms of a diplomatic agreement between Beijing and Tōkyō. Furthermore, even if the initial landings of the Japanese military could be called an "invasion", by the time of the Wushe Incident in 1930, things had been quiet for over 15 years (which is why the uprising was such a shock to the Japanese authorities). And, finally, there is the reference to the aboriginal fighters being "heroes", an obvious attempt to include non-Han Chinese 漢族 peoples in the struggle against Japanese imperialism that took place in China between 1931 and 1945. It's doubtful that Mona Rudao and his compatriots were fighting for Taiwan's "retrocession" into the loving arms of the Chinese motherland, but that doesn't stop the Post from turning a hotel promotion into a Greater China piece of propaganda.

Yes, you gotta love Taiwan's Leading English-Language Newspaper Since 1952.

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