American Media: Afraid to Uphold Democratic Values on the Subject of Taiwan

The American news media, from the New York Times to the Boston Globe, and including the various wire services, fail to uphold democratic values when reporting about Taiwan. They play along with the undemocratic "one China" policy of the communist dictatorship in Beijing, a policy that the U.S. government has swallowed; not one mainstream American newspaper ever refers to Taiwan as a nation, but always as a mere "island."

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In contrast, do the American media ever refer to Britain as an island, how about Japan or Australia? Never. Only Taiwan receives this China-dictated treatment by the American media.

Sure, Taiwan is an island in geographic terms, but it is an island nation. The New York Times is afraid to use that term, and never does. Ditto the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Reuters. I once asked an editor at the New York Times why his paper never referred to Taiwan as a country, or as an island nation? His response was that his hands were tied by the editorial policy at the Times, which has a rule stating that Taiwan can never be referred to as a country.

We expect these things from the Chinese government controlled press, but from the media in a democracy such as ours? The media has a public responsibility, especially in a democracy, to call out falsities, and denounce actions or words of governments that do not adhere to our principles of human rights, democracy, and freedom.

News readers need to take to task much of the Western media for completely falling down on their job in this area regarding Taiwan. In almost every article, the media treats Taiwan as a pawn in a political game of chess, and not as a people who have a functional democracy and every right to self-determination. Read the news tomorrow and see if you can find one newspaper in the Western world that refers to Taiwan as a nation. You will be disappointed.

It is high time for the American news media, from the New York Times on down, to start respecting democratic principles and self-determination when reporting about Taiwan. It's time for the American news media to be brave and take the side of human rights, democracy, and freedom.

Don't let the media get away with it. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper the next time you see Taiwan denigrated in print as a mere "island," without calling it the nation that it is

Dan Bloom, a native of Boston and a 1971 Tufts graduate, has lived in Asia since 1991.

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