TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is drawing criticism for its style guide, which lists Taiwan as a "province of China" and ignores the presence of Indigenous peoples on the island nation for over 6,500 years.
On Thursday (Nov. 25), Taiwanese journalist and member of AAJA, William Yang, wrote on Twitter that he "strongly disagrees" with its "so-called guide" for Taiwan. Yang pointed out that its description of Taiwan would be "heavily contested by experts focusing on Taiwan."
Below the tweet, Yang added that characterizing Taiwan as "officially a province of China" demonstrates that AAJA is already taking a side on Taiwan's political status. He noted that many countries such as the U.S. have never stated an official position on Taiwan's status.
In its style guide, the AAJA appears to be taking the stance of the communist regime based in Beijing, which claims Taiwan to be a province of the autocratic state. However, as a matter of fact, Taiwan has never been controlled by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership in Beijing.
After the AAJA's statement on Taiwan's status as a "province of China," it writes that "this fact" is disputed by the Taiwan government. It observes the description of Taiwan's status is the source of ongoing tension in cross-strait relations.
The style guide predicts that although an invasion by China is a possibility, it "recedes with time and U.S. protection." The authors describe the 2 million Chinese who fled with the Kuomintang (KMT) to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War as displacing "native Taiwanese."
Rather than Indigenous peoples, it appears its definition for "native Taiwanese" are Han Chinese immigrants from Fujian. It then lists the official languages as "Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), and Hakka dialects."
Completely missing from the AAJA entry is Taiwan's more than 500,000 members of 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes, including the Amis, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Puyuma, Rukai, Tsou, Saisiyat, Yami, Thao, Kavalan, Truku, Sakizaya, Sediq, Hla'alua and Kanakanavu. It also completely neglects their rich variety of 26 known languages which linguists point to as the origin of Austronesian languages, which are spoken by 386 million people.
As a final insult to Taiwan's Indigenous peoples, the entry claims that most "native Taiwanese Chinese" are descended from "migrants from Fujian, followed by "'mainland' Chinese" and "others." The current official indigenous population in Taiwan is 569,000, but scholars believe that figure could be higher if unrecognized groups such as the Ping Pu people are taken into account.
The AAJA has yet to respond to a request to a comment on the contents of its style guide for Taiwan.