For once Taiwan gets international coverage, but the president is not happy

Poor Taiwan.

Ever since 99.9% of the governments in the world recognized Beijing instead of Taipei as the capital of China, Taiwan only gets into the international press if a natural disaster happens or if some TV news program wants to close with a funny clip. (Usually the clip is of the members of the combative legislature throwing chairs are each other.)

What so many in the international media missed is the fact that Taiwan went from a brutal dictatorship to a democracy without one shot being fired or without massive riots. It was a slow process but once started it picked up steam.

Taiwan became the ONLY Chinese-speaking location to elect its leaders in fair and open elections.

Now, with the flooding from the most recent typhoon, the shortcomings of the current administration are coming out in full force. (Think of all the good publicity Pres. Bush got after Katrina. That gives you an idea of what is going on with Taiwan.)

So now the international media focus on Taiwan to cover a natural disaster and the political aftermath.

Too bad that same media did not feel the transition to democracy was important.

I remember living in Taiwan at the time of the transition. There was a massive opposition party demonstration. I worked at the English language radio station at the time. We geared up for a massive counter-strike by the ruling party followed by a massive violent reaction from the crowd.

It didn’t happen.

This demonstration was the largest ever seen in Taiwan and it was peaceful. The government provided proper protection along the parade route. The demonstrators refrained from provoking the police and military.

The people and the government showed remarkable political maturity. (As opposed to many of the anti-global trade demonstrators today.) And yet, I could not get one US publication to take the story.

The common line was: “If it is important, we can get it from the AP.” (And at the time, besides me — a simple freelancer — the only Western news service in Taiwan was AFP and an AP stringer.)

To me, that showed a complete lack of interest in what was going on in Asia. (Unless it was China.)

How are Americans going to know why things are happening in the world unless we tell them? How are they going to understand how things happen unless we tell them?

Unfortunately, the bean counters in corporate media do not feel it is important to keep Americans up to date on events in the world.

Unless the event is a war, disaster or (violent) revolution.

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Filed under China, Press Freedom

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