One of my online pet peeves is how some reports are written in Western media. They are designed in a way that makes it difficult for the reader to get the message quickly. The writer keeps beating around the bush, but fills up his or her articles with manipulative details, in desperate efforts to try to convince you. Like in any purportedly good narratives, the reports are packed with details intended to “show, instead of telling what a situation is like.” To be fair, this is a clever way of building up to the final conclusion. However, it could well have been announced at the beginning of the article or even in the title (just like the present post) and saves the reader from having to plough through the entire article to reach the point. This is the primary reason why I only occasionally read such reports. When doing so, I often get directly to the point the writer tries to make, if any, usually at the end of the article.
This is the case with a New York Times piece – For Taiwanese, Tests of Loyalty to China Bring Trouble in Workplace.
Another problem with such reporting is that the writer uses every small trick to try to convince the reader in a very far-fetched way.
Take this NYT piece as example. It starts with a Yating Yang of Taiwan, who could no longer work another shift at a mainland Chinese-owned barbecue restaurant in Australia after she told her employer that she was “Taiwanese,” instead of “Chinese.” It goes on to describe how a Man-Tzu Tuan was fired from her job because she told her mainland Chinese boss that Taiwan was “definitely” not part of China. Then, it mentions China’s supposed meddling in Australia’s politics. All these three combine to show that “Chinese nationalism is also affecting private enterprise” and “leading to accusations of discrimination,” which violates Australia’s “fair work” laws, according to the report.
Along with Chinese “trade and investment” come the Chinese people who value “the unity of China.” Then, the article links the personal and civilian choice of not hiring Taiwanese people disloyal to China with the country’s official policy of “One China,” claiming that “ubiquitous” Chinese nationalism is “smog” that stifles “anyone who identifies as Taiwanese, supports Taiwan’s independence — or even inadvertently refers to Taiwan as a country.” This forces Taiwanese people in Australia to keep silent about their loyalty, whenever they have the company of mainland Chinese.
Again, the article tries to link these private acts with the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), claiming that China sent agents to watch a Taiwanese gathering in Sydney and that for family and commercial interests, Chinese immigrants in Australia choose to discriminate against Taiwanese to “show loyalty to Beijing.”
Then, Global Times, known as a nationalistic tabloid to the Western media, gave a thumb-up to Tuan’s mainland Chinese boss. The media hype about the incident apparently brings more business to the restaurant from mainland Chinese.
A Daniel Chang of Taiwan reported that “he never received a callback from a salon that had seemed eager to hire him until he mentioned he was Taiwanese.” And a Jade Liao was berated by a mainland Chinese tourist “after she answered a question about whether Taiwan was part of China.”
The article warns that China will “continue to erode Australia’s ‘fair go’ culture of democracy and equality,” before it ended in the following paragraph:
They [mainland Chinese employers, tourists, etc.] are helping China erase the values that Taiwan and Australia share: democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” Mr. Lin said in a Sydney shopping mall flush with signs in Mandarin. “This is invisible. But this is fundamental.
Finally. Democracy. Human rights. Rule of law. China wants to erase them all in Australia (and doesn’t have them back home). And the Chinese immigrants and expatriates are accomplices of this serious crime.
So, what started as an issue of workplace discrimination on the grounds of national loyalty and allegiance in Australia becomes a global threat (Chinese money goes everywhere, together with its ideologies) to the basic principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. And China is the bad guy and doing business with China is thus dangerous.
In other words, the trouble of some Taiwanese people with their mainland Chinese bosses in Australia call into doubt China’s roles in:
- Democracy: China meddles in Australian politics; China’s “repressive regime” has the forced involuntary cooperation of its (former) citizens in enforcing the One China policy; China’s political influence is “ubiquitous” like “never-lifting smog”; China’s official media (and perhaps the Chinese government) manipulates Chinese netizens and fan their nationalism; China harms democracy and equality in Australia;
- Human rights: jobs are lost on political grounds; mainland Chinese discriminate against others who politically disagree with them or their government; and
- Rule of law: labor law, lax enforcement.
But, the biggest problem is that the report, which contains virtually no contributions from mainland Chinese, is biased and unbalanced. The voices of the mainland Chinese parties to the job loss incidents are not heard. Neither does it fully represent the views of the Chinese government on the One China policy. This is bad journalism, technically (non-straightforward, labyrinthinely and unprofessionally written), politically (ideologically biased, not based on balanced representation), and morally (no regard for facts, e.g. constitutionally and legally both on Taiwan and in mainland China, Taiwan is indeed part of China, ROC or PRC; the ROC’s version of China even is much bigger and includes Mongolia).
The love of the Chinese people for the unity of their country is genuine, voluntary, and natural, not imposed from outside or artificial. It is a tradition that dates back thousands of years ago to Qin (221-206 B.C.E.), a dynasty that unified China for the first time in history. It is much older than the PRC or the CCP. It needs no fanning, stimulating or manipulating. It is in the bone and blood of the Chinese, part of their values, culture, and history. For the Chinese, a show of respect for and loyalty to their country is democratic.
The Chinese people value more than just the political aspect to human rights. Their idea of human rights is also economic, social, cultural, educational and moral. The Chinese live in a country whose democratic, economic, and political institutions ensure that they all benefit from progress in every field for the past decades (China will eliminate poverty by the United Nations standards by 2020; for that matter, in the past decades, an overwhelming majority of the people lifted out of poverty are Chinese), unlike in the United States where the fruits of development have all been taken by the richest without them having democratically consulted the people, leaving the median household incomes virtually unchanged for decades while the economy keeps expanding. This is the worst case of democracy because it cannot guarantee fair prosperity for its citizens.
For the Chinese today, no one cares more about their human rights and well-being than their Government and the CCP, which have made the biggest ever contribution to the humanity’s cause of human rights
- by bringing peace, safety, security, prosperity, stability, development, and great prospect to one fifth (1.4 billion) of the world’s population;
- by making China a high-income country within the next five years, which will double the number of people living in high-income countries; and
- by leading the country to be well poised to overtake the United States as the largest economy in the next 15 years.
This is an extremely commendable feat by any standards. To be sure, China already seems to have overtaken the United States as the world’s largest retail market in 2017 and manufactures for years more products than the United States, Japan, and Germany put together.
For the Chinese, human rights are no legitimate reason for doubting or harming in any way the territorial integrity of their country. On the contrary, the history of the country is long enouogh to make them understand that territorial integrity is necessary for:
- building a strong country that ensures victory in competition with other major countries in all fields, economic, social, political, military, scientific, and technological; and thus
- promoting their human rights and welfare at large.
And, finally, speaking of the rule of law, according to the current Constitutions of both the island and mainland China, Taiwan is indeed part of China:
Preamble. Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the inviolable duty of all Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland. (Source: PRC Constitution)
Article 4. The territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly. (Source: ROC Constitution)
The People’s Republic of China even has an anti-secession law in store just in case, which reads:
Article 2. There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. Safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, the Taiwan compatriots included.
No other “rule of law” gets bigger than these clauses, Chinese or foreign. The Taiwanese people who have very unfortunately and sadly lost their jobs or potential career opportunities need to go back to read their Constitution, check their passports, and understand why, from the “rule of law” perspective, they should not say Taiwan is not part of China or in any other way doubt Chinese territorial integrity in the first place. Don’t blame the mainland Chinese bosses who act in purely private capacities. They are just going about their business fully in line with the rule of law. After all, this is something the Taiwanese employees and the writers of the NYT article seem to love, so much.