AAJA sparks criticism for style guide that says Taiwan ‘officially a province of China’

AAJA sparks criticism for style guide that says Taiwan ‘officially a province of China’
AAJA sparks online criticism for ‘outdated’ style guide that lists Taiwan as China’s province
Ryan General
November 29, 2021
San Francisco-based nonprofit Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has sparked online backlash after listing Taiwan as a “province of China” in its “Guide to Covering Asian Pacific America.”
Highly disputed: The AAJA style guide notes that the “fact” of Taiwan’s status as a Chinese province is “disputed by the Taiwan government” and currently fuels current political tension.
  • Critics accused the nonprofit of seemingly siding with the Chinese government and its stance on Taiwan being a Chinese territory rather than an independent state.
  • On Twitter, AAJA member William Yang wrote that the guide’s description of Taiwan would be “heavily contested by experts.” 
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  • According to the Taiwanese journalist, AAJA has taken its side on Taiwan’s political status, which many countries still have no official stand on.
  • Jessica Drun, a nonresident fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, similarly called out the nonprofit.
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  • “The highlighted part is also disputed and is the Chinese government’s view — and one that it forces on other countries,” tweeted Drun, who focuses on security and political issues concerning China and Taiwan. “If we are coming at it from the angle of the United States, Washington’s official position is that Taiwan’s status is undetermined.”
  • Vice reporter Melissa Chen noted that this is a “reminder that American provincialism on foreign affairs covers POCs as well.”
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  • Critics have also condemned the guide for ignoring Taiwan’s 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes who have existed for more than 6,500 years. According to AAJA, most “native Taiwanese Chinese” originated from “migrants from Fujian, followed by ’’mainland’ Chinese’ and ‘others.’”
An outdated guide: Responding to Drun’s tweets, AAJA President Michelle Ye Hee Lee said the existing style guide is outdated and currently under revision, noting that its 2020 version  is merely a republication of  the 2012 guide. 
  • “This style guide is from 2012, and we took it down because we’re overhauling the style guide,” Lee wrote. “Last year, we put it back up with a note up top that it’s under review, [because] reporters asked for help with basic terminology as they covered anti-AAPI violence.”
  • According to Lee, the nonprofit is “re-evaluating every existing entry” and “launching a public evaluation process to solicit community input and resources.”
  • NKTV reporter and AAJA member Jeremy Chen has since offered to help in creating a
    “more updated entry since it’s going to continue to be widely reported and I get questions from other journalists about #Taiwan.”
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Featured Image via AAJA
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