(pic courtesy of Craig Ferguson)

Yesterday some of you probably noticed a post on the China map in the recent National Geographic issue that I took down. What happened was that my good friend Danny Bloom sent me an email saying that Nat Geo had colored Taiwan and China the same color in the map in the May issue of National Geographic, on China. So I put up Danny’s note and several people wrote in to protest.

Then a comment on my blog averred that there was a disclaimer on the map, which Danny hadn’t mentioned — as shown above. I took the post down until I could resolve the issue. Further emails were exchanged — and it turned out that there were two maps in the issue, one with the disclaimer pictured above, one without. After discussion with the National Geographic editor, we discovered that two different divisions of the Society had prepared the maps, one with the disclaimer, the other without. Confusion resolved! Well, confusion at our end, anyway…

The truly interesting thing was not the map confusion, but two comments made by the editor in one of his letters. First, he (and others at the Society) apparently believe that the US position is that Taiwan is part of China. The fact is that the US position, reiterated last year when UN Sec-Gen Ban rejected the letter from Chen Shui-bian applying for Taiwan’s entry into the UN under the name Taiwan, is that the status of Taiwan is undetermined. It has been that way now since the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed in 1951 (see my blogpost on the UN letter).

Another remark of his observed that with the election of Ma, Taiwan is not likely to be pursuing independence soon. Many editors around the globe are going to come to similar conclusions, and getting them to change their presentations on Taiwan to a more neutral position is going to be even more difficult.