J. Michael Cole’s Far Eastern Sweet Potato found a doozy from AP the other day:

Language, language, how it shapes our perception of reality, especially when it is used by supposed “reliable” news organizations. I came upon a beautiful series of pictures taken in Taiwan yesterday of members of the country’s Amnesty International branch arranging their bodies to spell out 自由 “ziyou,” or “freedom,” in denunciation of human rights violations in China (see cover of the Taipei Times, July 13, 2008).

What readers of the Taipei Times will not see, however, is the original AP photo caption, which read “… as they denounce the Chinese government for allegedly violating human rights” (italics added).

“Allegedly? There is nothing “alleged” about human rights violations in China; rather, they are known and widespread. This is either sloppy journalism on AP’s part or an unconscionable attempt to demonstrate so-called journalistic neutrality to a degree that blinds it to reality. Did AP reporters in Rwanda in 1994 refer to an “alleged” genocide? Was a Palestinian family “allegedly” killed by an Israeli tank shell? Were Israelis eating at a pizzeria “allegedly” killed when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself at the entrance of the restaurant? Why the special treatment for China, as it arrests its citizens, executes more prisoners in a year than anyone else and murders demonstrators and dissidents?

And a local reporter alert me to this gem about angry Kaohsiungers from a Newsweek article on the factory closings in China:

……..Credit Suisse’s top economist for Asia, Dong Tao, witnessed five factories in the process of shutting down. Workers had queued outside and “bosses were making severance payments,” he says.

Such scenes are reminiscent of bygone industrial transitions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in which low-end factories—the engines that powered economic takeoff—lost competitiveness and either migrated or shut down. Twenty years ago Guangdong was the place most small, family-owned manufacturers in Asia flocked to, making it China’s top exporting province and a magnet for migrant labor from the hinterland. But since 2005, wages have risen 14 percent a year and the yuan began to appreciate, the trend has reversed. Tougher labor, tax and environmental rules implemented this year, combined with spiraling energy and material costs, have driven thousands of factories to quit the delta, the start of an inevitable “hollowing out,” says Tao. “Twenty years ago [Taiwan's southern industrial city] Kaohsiung was the fifth largest container port in the world, but today it’s an angry town with 20 percent unemployment. This is what’s going to happen in [China's] Guangdong province.”

I haven’t been down to Kaohsiung in a few months, but I can’t recall any reports of 20% unemployment and much anger from our second city. Perhaps “Credit Suisse’s top economist for Asia” was misquoted….

…but all is not bad. The always interesting hopeless Taiwanophile Andrew Leonard at Salon.com had a nifty piece on soybeans and subprime and of course, Taiwan….

Now, I was all prepared to wax lyrical about how, to this day, Chinese corporations in Taiwan and Hong Kong and China are still dominated by family allegiances (and riven by family squabbling) that remind one of nothing so much as Ming Dynasty imperial princes scheming for influence and power in the fifteenth century. I also find it striking how short the time span seems between Wanchun selling soy sauce on the street during the Japanese occupation and his nephew Hong-tu betting on mortgage securities linked to subprime loans in the U.S. today. We would do well to remember how shallow modern capitalism’s roots are in either China or Taiwan.

The entire piece, like Leonard’s column, is an good discussion of the interaction of local and global that we call “the Taiwan market.” I talk about the Tsai family scandal, and the modern Rebar scandal of the same category, here.