Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Your periodic reminder that Forbes sucks just as hard as Reuters

Here I am again with yet another installment of "fuck this fucking nonsense", where I take some FUCKING NONSENSE and tell it to fuck off.

Here is today's fucking nonsense, courtesy of Forbes. For your consideration:

The title sets the scene for the whole thing, and it's a scene reminiscent of what happened that one time after I ate fish and chips two days in a row: 

China's Efforts To Increase Pressure On Old Foe Taiwan Are Backfiring


The Republic of China perhaps is, but "Taiwan" is not, and although Taiwan is (unfairly) governed by the (colonialist) Republic of China, anyone with any grasp of the nuances of the political realities of the region knows that there is a clear semantic difference between what we mean when we say "Taiwan" and what we mean when we say "the ROC". The ROC is a lost regime on life support that was foisted, uninvited, on the Taiwanese people. Taiwan is an island and a point of identification in terms of politics, culture, history and land. "Taiwan" (and the Taiwanese people) would like nothing more than to co-exist peacefully with China, enjoying warm relations and the benefits thereof, have its sovereignty respected and maybe not have a few thousand missiles pointed right up its ass THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Wanting to co-exist with your big fat jerk neighbor does not make you an "old foe". It makes them a bully and you a victim. Foes wish each other harm. Taiwan does not wish China harm (though China does wish Taiwan harm - so this whole fight is really quite one-sided, and the "foe" is not Taiwan).

And no, I don't know how to change the weird spacing on this part. 

China intentionally pulled back on group tourism to Taiwan last year by about 18%, resulting in a squeeze for those in the tour bus and hotel industry.

Okay first of all, this is the weirdest start to an article ever, it reads like something halfway through a paragaph? Whatever, it's got far worse problems than that.

No mention at all of why China pulled back on group tourism (to try to force Taiwan to make concessions relating to its sovereignty, i.e. to force them to accept the [fucking nonsense] 1992 consensus WHICH IS NOT A REAL THING). No mention of the general reaction to this in Taiwan which was positive, not negative. No mention that tourism overall has not suffered, really, as the drop in Chinese group tours was made up for - and then some, I think? - by tourists from other countries. No mention of the fact that these Chinese tour groups are not only not that profitable for Taiwanese businesses due to the low costs insisted upon by the China-based operators, but also that most of them aren't even really Taiwanese businesses at all, as many of the facilities in Taiwan are ultimately managed by tour operators from China, not Taiwan.

What does it say as well about China's tourism strategy in Taiwan that their cuts in group tours mainly affected tour companies in China, which have links to that same government? (Please tell me I don't have to answer that question for you).

Oh yeah, and tourism isn't a very big contributor to the Taiwanese economy. The effect, insofar as there was one at all, simply wasn't that big.

Basically, this is just hoisted from a skank tank of nonsense and plopped at your feet with none of the unpacking necessary to report the story accurately. Bad journalism, in effect.

Beijing probably thought the same about its easing off permits for students to study at Taiwan’s 152 tuition-thirsty universities. The number of non-degree students dropped from 34,114 last year to 32,648 now and some reports say enrollment in degree courses is about to fall. 

This is actually true as far as I'm aware, but the mention of it only glosses over - merely implies rather than explicitly reporting - that China is trying to force Taiwan to make policy in accordance with China's wishes rather than those of the people of Taiwan. Basically, to cede some amount of sovereignty, even in an abstract way.

These measures, combined with other more obvious pressure moves against Taiwan such as sending an aircraft carrier around the island, have hurt.

Who was hurt?

China has claimed Taiwan as part of its turf since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. It insists the two sides eventually reunify.

"Reunify"? The People's Republic has never owned Taiwan. You cannot "reunify" what was never unified to begin with. You cannot even "unify" when one side is not interested in unification. You can only annex.

Use the correct word. We won't stop making fun of you until you do. It is misleading and inaccurate.

It lost momentum toward that goal in May 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen took office as Taiwan president without agreeing to Beijing’s dialogue condition that both sides belong to a single entity known as China.

It is debatable whether it had that momentum to begin with, but let's not even get into the question of whether support for Ma Ying-jiu's "economic but not political ties/no independence, no unification" was a concrete step toward what China wants, or whether it was a large group of voters being intentionally misled by Ma's campaign promises toward a goal they had never actually agreed with.

That aside, no, what momentum that may have existed was lost in March 2014 when the country woke up to what a lying sack of turds Ma Ying-jiu and his cronies were.

This has been going on a lot longer than Tsai's inauguration. There is no investigation here of the true roots of post-2014 political discourse in Taiwan, not even a one-sentence summary of why, exactly, Tsai was elected in the first place and why, exactly, she could not give in on this 1992 Consensus nonsense. 

Formal talks went on hold.

IF YOU USE THE PASSIVE VOICE IT MEANS YOU ARE AVOIDING SAYING WHO PUT THE TALKS ON HOLD and maybe you think you can trick us into assuming Taiwan put them on hold, but YOU CAN'T because guess what, WE'RE NOT STUPID.

Who put the talks on hold, Ralphie? WHO?

Just say it.

For fuck's sake, say it. Say China's name. SAY IT.

And Beijing got mad.

So what?

And if it matters [it doesn't], why'd they get mad? Why can't you just say "they got mad that Taiwan, which is a fully self-ruled liberal democracy, didn't like its big fat jerk neighbor telling it what to do"? Or something more polite for your readers, whatever, but something? Why is it automatically a big problem when China "gets mad" (oooHHHHOooHHHhoohhhh) but not a problem when a democratic country's sovereignty is openly and repeatedly threatened?


As I've said before, China wants to be not only a global leader, but the preeminent global leader. China also doesn't care about the sovereignty of fully functioning nations, and cares little for human rights, international law, democracy or freedom of any kind.

How is this totally okay, and even something to be concerned about when they get mad, instead of being called out for what it actually is, which is fucking terrifying?
How is this okay to not even question?
China’s economic sanctions have rattled tour operators to the point of street protests in September.

This happened, sure, but you are not a very good journalist, let alone much of an investigative journalist if you don't ask yourself why, exactly, they were protesting when tourism has not dropped. What other motives could there be, considering that many tour operators are China-owned rather than Taiwan-owned and that many of the China-owned operators have ties to the Chinese government, and the services provided were often negotiated at such low rates that any Taiwanese businesses involved didn't make much money?

Considering all that, why, exactly, were they protesting again?

Even if we assume the protestors were sincere (which I do not - I think the motivations are far shadier than that), at some point, certain decisions that are good for the whole are going to have some effects on tiny slivers of industry or society that some people might not be happy about. So? The tour operators had a right to protest (sincere or not, and I think I've been clear that I don't think they were), but that doesn't mean it's a problem if the government doesn't necessarily make any changes.

I hate saying that, because I hate it when my side protests and nothing changes, but realistically, it's just got to be this way, even if sometimes that affects my side badly.

Officials in Beijing probably imagine that if Taiwanese feel a pinch as China withdraws tourists, students and other elements of its $11.2 trillion economy from Taiwan’s much smaller market...

Again, the tourist withdrawal didn't actually affect the Taiwanese economy much, if at all. There were enough tourists from elsewhere to make up the shortfall. I have my theories as to why that is not generally reported. The statement, as is, is not accurate. 

...the public will push Tsai to restart dialogue. Or voters will replace Tsai’s party with one that favors a stronger political relationship with China.

How can Tsai "restart dialogue" when Tsai wasn't the one who shut it down to begin with? Why not say "the public will push Tsai to give in to China's demands so that China will re-start dialogue"? That would be the accurate way of reporting this. Why be misleading when you could be accurate?

Oh, right...


Are you so afraid of saying "the public will push Tsai to concede to the 1992 Consensus to a degree acceptable to China, which would preclude any chance of Taiwanese de jure independence?" Because you know that's what that means.
Some people are pressuring their president, and non-government surveys show an erosion of public confidence in her leadership. “If [Tsai] cannot back up her stance one step or two steps, things will get even worse,” says Liu Yih-jiun, public affairs professor at Fo Guang University in Taiwan. “I think President Tsai is in deep trouble.

Fo Guang University? Okaaay.

Anyway, this implies that public confidence may be eroding because Tsai needs to be nicer to China. I would argue the opposite is true: that public confidence is eroding because she's not stepping up and making tough but important decisions as a leader. She comes across as wishy-washy, and that's the problem. Backing up even more (where would she back up to, even? What does this mean? Why is it taken at face value?) would make her appear even weaker. Why is Jennings reporting this douchelord's opinion as indicative of public opinion generally by putting his blather next to poll results when one is not necessarily the belief that drives the other?

And can I just say how ridiculous it is to constantly imply that Taiwan is the one that needs to cede more to China, when China is the aggressor, and Taiwan has a lot more to lose - and that no matter what Taiwan offers, China will always, always want more?

Why, again, is this not investigated, questioned, discussed, critiqued or even reported accurately?

And who, besides this, err, guy and some KMT blowhards who never really cared about Taiwan to begin with, is pressuring Tsai to be nicer to China?

Seriously - who cares what this Foguangshan guy thinks? I'm not even interested in remembering his name, that's how irrelevant his opinion is. Why include it, unless you want to inaccurately portray Taiwanese public opinion?

Still, there is some good to be found in this article, such as this paragraph which I cannot find fault with:

Still, Taiwan shows resiliency. Last year’s $528 billion GDP should grow at least 1.7% this year, the International Monetary Fund says. A rise of around 2% would be roughly consistent with growth over the past three years. The island’s all-important semiconductor industry is expected to grow 3.5% this year, the Taipei-based Marketing Intelligence & Consulting Institute forecasts, and its PC sector is expanding because of contract orders. As travelers from China hang back, arrivals from Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand went up about 29% over the half year ending in March. University enrollment from around the world went up 4.6% from October through March as numbers from China tapered.

But then it's bookended with this:

Taiwan’s next telltale elections – a slew of local ones – are set for 2018. It’s hard to know now whether voters will show discontent then toward their president. 

Seems okay, but you'll note that above, Jennings implied heavily that that discontent was driven by a desire for Tsai to soften on China, when that is not necessarily the case (and I'd argue the opposite could well be true: a lot of her supporters, or at least people who voted for her, are unhappy because she is not taking a stronger stand on China). Such an implication, then, is inaccurate and misleading. 

I'll leave you with this:

“What seems unarguable is that blame for whatever pain people in Taiwan feel as a result of all of these roadblocks imposed by Beijing is importantly being directed toward the mainland,” says Alan Romberg, director of the East Asia program at U.S. think tank The Stimson Center.

Here is the problem. I don't know if the journalists did it to the think-tankers or the think-tankers did it to the journalists or we all got butt-reamed by pro-China views in academia and government that trickled down like slime down a neglected gutter, but senior people, respected experts, people whose opinions shape policy and, to some extent, reporting, still refer to China as "the mainland", rather than by its actual name: China. 

As long as we continue to act as though China is some sort of "mainland" to Taiwan, which implicitly links the two through language choices meant to imply a connection where there isn't one, we cede ground to China.

If experts are still calling it "the mainland", we're already losing ground, and people who don't know better (like, say, the writer of this article) will get pulled under and report inaccurately. Readers will be misinformed, and China will gain another inch.

I don't really care about Alan Whoozits, director of the East Asia blah blah blah, because he doesn't appear to be very good at his job. But when we let this go unquestioned, this is what we are allowing to happen. 

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