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

Monday, June 07, 2010

Ralph Jennings misreports on Taiwan again

Completely unacceptable

On my Facebook wall, Alex Raymond alerted me to a Ralph Jennings piece from Saturday titled "Taiwanese show guarded acceptance of China pact."

Do Taiwanese "accept" this so-called Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) at all?

Take a look this particular paragraph of Jennings' article [emphasis mine]:
Political analysts said the size of the protest, a month after a sit-in in Taipei attracted only a few hundred, was an indication that Taiwan's public accepted the deal, wanted to know more details or believed the government was deaf to protests.
The first problem there is that Jennings quotes unnamed "political analysts." Would it make a difference if these "analysts" were close to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the party he chairs, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)? Yes, it would. (See an earlier example of Jennings' use of similar tactics.)

The next problem is the simple lack of deductive logic. The first paragraph of the article claims that the size of Saturday's protest was "10,000" (and Jennings has greatly underestimated the number of attendees at previous protests by pro-Taiwan groups) and then tells readers of a sit-in that happened "a month" ago (which, in reality, was a 3-day protest which ended just 15 days ago) and which "attracted only a few hundred." Gee, according to my math, "10,000" is a much larger number, and 15 days is only half a month.

While it may be correct to say that Taiwanese "believed the government was deaf to protests," note how it's not the single possibility which was placed in the headline. Despite the addition of the word "guarded," the one which does appear there (and in the article minus the qualifier) is the one which is the easiest to disprove.

Just what do Taiwanese think about this ECFA?
Let's look at a poll from the pro-Chinese KMT TVBS which was released just this past Monday (May 31, 2010) [104 kb PDF file] for some indications [translations, emphasis mine]:
公投題目「是否同意政府與中國簽ECFA?」:同意42% v.s.不同意44%

Voting on a referendum which asks: "Should the government sign an ECFA with China?" 42% say "Yes" while 44% say "No."

[...] 15%未表示意見。

[...] 15% expressed no opinion.


辦 ECFA公投民眾贊成的比例上升至55%,不贊成則下滑到 30%

Hold a referendum on ECFA? Public support increases to 55%, opposition slips to 30%


若辦公投,六成(59%)民眾說會去投票 [...]

If there is a referendum, 59% of the public says they will vote [...]
I don't trust TVBS, but remember that if there's any bias in their poll, it will be in favor of those pushing this ECFA with China. So, I must wonder: Does Ralph Jennings hate Taiwan and the truth, or will he write just anything -- as long as he keeps getting paid to do so?

Don't just accept what you read, especially not when it's written by "pros" who repeatedly provide you with information that is as easily disputed as the stuff Jennings keeps shoveling.

Check out how Reuters dissembles even more by using an image (with a caption that only appears as a pop-up) of cheering Taiwanese atop this version of the article.

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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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