"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Nonsense and lack of sensibility

Taiwan's opposition and Beijing are two of a kind

Taiwan's opposition has been spreading unfounded rumors that the Chen Shui-bian administration has "struck a deal" with the United States to send marines to Iraq. The local news media has taken this and made it into an ever-increasing snowball which is bound to crash into something sooner rather than later.

It seems that nobody knows where this nonsense really got started. The Taipei Times says variously that it came from a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator via a May 16 Los Angeles Times story, and from an April 27 article by William Triplett in the US magazine Human Events.

In order for the snowball to reach maximum velocity, People First Party (PFP) legislator Chou Hsi-wei made the accusation this Monday that "former presidential secretary-general Chiou I-jen ... struck a deal with the United States, and will send troops to Iraq in return."

... and you found that info where, Mr. Chou?

Forecast: mostly cloudy; 100% chance of rumormongering
By yesterday, the topic was completely surrounded by a cloud of rumors.

Today, even the U.S. is having to repeat denials that this ever occurred. While the current administration usually can't be trusted to tell the truth even about things like poetry or the weather, I tend to believe the summation (if not the details) on this one.

While Republican Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Jim Ryun have promoted the idea, it is only in the form of a resolution which isn't likely to pass.

In other words, two Republicans kicking around an idea do not automatically make this an inevitability. Despite both of these Congressmen being described as supporting Taiwan, this harebrained idea of theirs should assure that this so-called "support" will be described in the past tense in any future reports.

Wolf! Wolf!
When I first saw this news running in the newsbars of 3 pro-blue TV news stations (Era News, ETTV, and SET) Saturday night just before midnight, I was already convinced that it had to be an exaggeration, if not an outright fabrication.

Even more things about this rumor don't make sense.

First of all, the U.S. doesn't have "official" relations with Taiwan, nor is Taiwan represented in the United Nations. Unless the Rohrabacher/Ryun Resolution got some tips from Harry Potter, these facts wouldn't just change upon its (impossible) approval. That alone should put such rumors not only to bed, but send them to a timely grave.

But sensibility can certainly never be allowed to get in the way of a juicy news story.

Secondly, Iraq is a quagmire wrapped in a cluster fuck inside of a SNAFU. Even if Taiwan had official relations with the U.S., it wouldn't be such a smart move to get involved at all, much less sending 5,000 of its 35,000 marines to Iraq during a time in which China continues to ratchet up its threats against Taiwan.

Faced with this kind of situation (or even without it, for that matter), I couldn't possibly believe that Taiwan would be sending its troops off to Iraq.

If you want the "truth" behind this story, whatever you do, don't expect the pro-blue media to provide it.

Kiwi kicks China in the nuts
At the same time, New Zealand lawmaker Peter Dunne, a United Future Party leader, was "scolded" by a Chinese diplomat for attending President Chen's May 20 inauguration ceremony in a statement which was described by Dunne as "bizarre" and "offensive."

But Dunne didn't take this bullying lying down. He is quoted in an AP article published in the Taipei Times as saying "I know the Chinese wouldn't understand anything about democracy and freedom, but this is a free country, I have the right to travel."

Rah, rah, ree!
Kick 'em in the knee!
Rah, rah, rutz!
Kick 'em in the other knee!

Related links:
* Forumosa thread: Taiwan to send troops to Iraq???
* Forumosa thread: Chen Shui-bian -- the man
* New Zealand Herald: China told to back off over Dunne visit
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