Yesterday's Taipei Times contained an article claiming that the writer of the Washington Post article that I mentioned below apologized for misinterpreting Chen's statements. The way in which the alleged apology has been communicated to the public is quite suspicious, though. The Times cites "[a]n official of the Presidential Office who wished not to be named" as saying that Philip Pan said he was sorry for misrepresenting Chen's comments. Why would the official want to remain anonymous? Why hasn't the Washington Post printed a retraction, or at least a correction, of Pan's article? And why does Pan (and David Hoffman) continue to do his smoke-and-mirrors act in an April 1 article that in paragraph 5 links the new constitution to Chen's campaign pledges about relations with the mainland and in paragraph 13 cites Chen's argument that the constitutional reform plan has nothing to do with mainland relations?
Here are the two paragraphs in question, from the article entitled "China Denounces Taiwan's Leader, Rejects Call for Talks":
First, paragraph five:
Chen said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that he had won a mandate despite his victory by only 0.2 percent of the vote and refused to back down from any of his campaign positions on relations with mainland China, including his pledge to write a new constitution and implement it by 2008.
And paragraph thirteen:
Chen also argued that his proposal to write a new constitution had nothing to do with Taiwan's independence and was instead aimed at deepening democratic reform and improving governance in Taiwan, by reducing the size of the legislature, for example. [This paragraph is followed by China's rejection of Chen's comments and the PRC's accusation that Chen isn't sincere about cross-strait peace.]
Now I would like to see Pan's previous article retracted or corrected, but I don't think my wishful thinking is enough to make it happen. And I'm wondering who is really served by Pan's "secret" apology to Chen. It certainly hasn't changed anything about how the Post is covering the situation in Taiwan.