The powerful effect of pro-China propagandizing is seen in this translation of a piece from the Asia Times on the US Nimitz deployment to Japan, arguing that it is linked to the Taiwan election in March:

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz of the US Navy arrived in Japan on 11 February. An analysis maintains that the deployment of the aircraft carrier is a step the United States has taken to make sure that, during Taiwan’s presidential election and UN membership referendum on 22 March, there will be at least two aircraft carrier battle groups in West Pacific so that they can effectively deter the eruption of a clash in the Taiwan Strait.

One newspaper maintains that USS Nimitz is to replace the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier that will soon be decommissioned. However, according to The Navy Times, the deployment of USS Nimitz in West Pacific is not permanent, but was done merely to reinforce the United States’ military strength in this part of the world; and that USS Washington will be the aircraft carrier that will replace USS Kitty Hawk in the future. Explaining the deployment of USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in Japan, US Navy says USS Nimitz’ temporary commission is necessitated by the maintenance that USS Kitty Hawk needs. However, The Navy Times notes that the commission of USS Nimitz in West Pacific is a routine deployment based on the Navy’s “Fleet Response Plan” as well as a real and important drill of the plan.

The “Fleet Response Plan” was adopted by the US Navy in 2003. According to this plan, US Navy can simultaneously deploy six aircraft carrier battle groups to any danger zone around the world within 30 days and then reinforce the deployment with two additional aircraft carrier battle groups within three months. This has
significantly enhanced the US Navy’s capabilities of dealing with any crisis and at the same time made it difficult for an adversary to find an opportunity to attack US aircraft carriers. As for the US Navy’s explanation that USS Kitty Hawk is in need of maintenance, one analysis maintains that it is not quite plausible that USS Kitty Hawk has to be maintained before it will be decommissioned this year. One noteworthy fact is that, after USS Kitty Hawk is decommissioned, the aircraft that will take its place will be USS Washington aircraft carrier, which is also a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier like the USS Nimitz. Thus, USS Nimitz’ deployment in Japan also has the function of making preparations for USS Washington’s permanent stationing in Japan.

The Navy Times report notes that USS Kitty Hawk will not leave Japan for home after the arrival of USS Nimitz; and that it will not leave Japan for home until the second half of 2008. This means that, during the time of Taiwan’s presidential election, the United States will have two aircraft battle groups in waters adjacent to the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan Strait will be at its most dangerous situation in March this year. The situation will be both delicate and complex. Whether the mainland will take a military stance prior to the election on 22 March to influence the election outcome and whether Chen Shuibian will overreact by provoking the mainland to attack in case the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] will be completely defeated during the election may trigger a clash in the Taiwan Strait.

The United States certainly fully understands this situation. It has time and again stressed that it does not want to see the eruption of a clash in the Taiwan Strait. The mission of the upcoming deployment of the USS Nimitz battle group in this part of the world is believed to be one of preventing a clash and not one of supporting Taiwan’s DPP government. In other words, it is a mission different from the one in 1996 when the United States dispatched two aircraft carriers to help defend Taiwan when the mainland intimidated Taiwan with two missile exercises during Taiwan first presidential election at that time.

[deleted paragraph on how much more powerful Nimitz is]

Moreover, the aircraft carrier’s escorts, Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers, also have powerful fighting power. Modern Aegis-equipped ships are also equipped with “Standard 3″ intercepting missiles. The deployment of USS Nimitz, the most powerful nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, in West Pacific shows that the United States is following closely the situation in the Taiwan Strait, and that it wants to assume a powerful stance to prevent an eruption of any clash between the two sides of the strait. Of course, the most important purpose of the deployment is to maintain the United States’ leading status and geopolitical interests in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Both KMT politicians and Chinese leadership have repeatedly expressed to foreigners that they are worried that Chen Shui-bian might do something crazy, and incredibly, it is possible to write in a piece of serious analysis that A-bian will start a war if the DPP loses the Presidential election. Mad Chen lives! The importance of repetition here cannot be overestimated — the more the KMT and China keep repeating it, the more people will stop noticing how stupid it is. That’s right — Beijing and the KMT claim a lame duck Taiwanese president will use a military dominated by a pro-KMT officer corps, overseen by a legislature controlled by the pro-China side, to start a war with China that will have zero public support, and which has no international backing. Right. I hope the US military hasn’t bought into this nonsense. Observe, though, how the it nicely sets up a Chinese military action against Taiwan — one could easily imagine a suborned officer in the Taiwanese military creating a provocation for China’s sake…..and then China saying “See? We warned you….” Good to see the US carriers out there….

Simon Tisdall has a piece in the Guardian (found on this blog) that emphasizes China’s deployment of soft power in annexing Taiwan. The first paragraph terminates in a reference to that very common media/propaganda trope, Taiwan as the wild child in need of discipline, which will be supplied by the authority of Beijing:

Hardliners in Washington, Beijing and Taipei continue to warn of an explosive military confrontation between China and the US as Taiwan’s short-fuse presidential election draws close. But growing evidence suggests hawks on both sides are purposefully exaggerating the risks. Rather than threatening war, China is increasingly relying on non-military means to bring its “renegade province” to heel.

“bringing something to heel” is an act of discipline. It is a shame that clearer language, like annex, or expand, is not used in the media. Note the term “renegade province” which is purely an invention of the western media and has never been used by Beijing — good that Tisdall put it in quotes. Tisdall’s language assumes that Taiwan is part of China — Taiwan is being “brought back into the fold.” Newsman are so used to deploying such metaphors, I doubt it ever crossed his mind that Taiwan has never been part of the PRC….Tisdall also claims that support for independence has fallen to only 19% (due, of course, to China’s soft power) but cites no poll for this, entirely missing how thoroughly mainstream a Taiwan identity is nowadays….

UPDATE: Of course, Tisdall did refer to the “pro-China KMT.” Thanks, Simon!

UPDATE II: Tisdall apparently got his information from the Mainland Affairs Council Poll. Apparently he added together the two items for independence, got 19%, and concluded that support for independence is falling. Note that the same process for annexation as an option also produces falling numbers. What is actually happening is support for the status quo is rising. Yet an uncertain but surely large number of people in the column “status quo now, decision later” must support independence.