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CNN confuses Taiwan with Thailand on New Year's Eve show

Captions read 'Thailand's capital welcomes 2023,' 'Bangkok celebrates 2023,' and 'Bangkok, Taiwan'

Screenshot from CNN. (Twitter, @seansu image)

Screenshot from CNN. (Twitter, @seansu image)

Update: 01/02 4:00 p.m.

Will Ripley on Monday afternoon released a tweet recognizing that confusion over Taiwan and Thailand is a "sensitive topic for many." Ripley sought to reassure the public that neither he nor his co-host Kristie Lu Stout would ever confuse the two countries, but acknowledged that the live broadcast had experienced some "technical problems" and conceded that "Live TV is tricky."

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — During live CNN broadcasts early Sunday morning (Jan. 1), Taiwan and Thailand along with their respective capitals were mixed up on at least three occasions.

At around 1 a.m. Taipei Time on Sunday, CNN Hong Kong correspondent Kristie Lu Stout asked the news agency's Taiwan correspondent in Taipei Will Ripley about the celebrations in Thailand, which is one hour behind. In an unfortunate labeling mishap, a headline appeared at 1:03 a.m. that read "Thailand's Capital Welcomes 2023" as the fireworks extravaganza at Taiwan's Taipei 101 tower flashed on the screen.

Next, at the 1:09 a.m. mark, the screen flashed the caption "Bangkok celebrates 2023," while still displaying fireworks from Taipei. CNN's struggles continued as a third screen capture taken at 3:37 a.m. which showed an actual image of fireworks in Thailand, but labeled the location "Bangkok, Taiwan."

Screenshots of the snafus quickly went viral. Taiwanese and foreign residents of the country are all too familiar with the seeming inability of many foreigners to distinguish between Taiwan and Thailand.

Sean Su, a Taiwanese commentator, told Taiwan News that while watching the broadcast in the Grand Hyatt Taipei, he noticed that at 1:03 a.m. the program started showing footage of the Taipei 101 fireworks. However, he said Lu Stout continued to ask Ripley about Thailand, while he would respond with information about Taipei.

Su stated that it was not until about 1:06 a.m. that Ripley realized that the two were on a different page and after a blank pause asked "Oh my God, are we talking about Bangkok or Taiwan?" Without waiting for a response, Ripley listed his favorite street food stand in Taipei before changing the topic to street food tours in Thailand.

Twitter users had a field day with the botched captions:

"Thaipei is the capital of Thaiwan, a country led by Thai Ing-wen."

"Amazing, have seen plenty of Taiwan-Thailand mix-ups but never Bangkok, Taiwan...."

"Taipei is Thai! Taipei has always been Thai!'"

Comments on the Taiwan page for Reddit were similarly sarcastic:

"Can’t offend China if they are talking about Thailand."

"Wait, wait, wait... so the capital of Thailand is Taipei, Taiwan? Taiwan is a province of Thailand now? And even more outrageous, the capital city is no longer Bangkok but Taipei?!"

"The US will definitely defend Thailand...! or... was it Taiwan? Ah, whatever, can't find either on the map anyway!"