Monday, October 27, 2003

The death of Soong Mei-ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek) last week provides a great opportunity to explore media bias and cultural/political differences. Obituaries around the world describe her and her life differently, and it's worth doing a search in Google news to read some of them.

Here's a benign snippet from Canada's National Post (Madame with charm transformed China):

Beautiful, articulate and charismatic, speaking better English than Chinese, with a soft southern accent picked up during her years as a schoolgirl in Georgia, Madame Chiang was both a celebrity and a diplomat.

She served as the grand dame of Chinese Nationalist politics and repeatedly barnstormed across the United States, raising funds and support for her husband and his Chinese Nationalists, first against the Japanese in the Second World War and later, unsuccessfully, against China's communists.
(Much further down, the story acknowledges that "she had a ruthless side.") For the exercise in contrast, an excerpt from today's editorial in the Taipei Times, entitled So long and good riddance:
Many obiturists have remarked that she was the most famous Chinese woman of the 20th century. What hasn't been said is that she was also perhaps the most evil woman to wield any kind of power during that bleak 100 years and that her influence on almost anything she touched was corrupting and malign....

Soong valued only money and power, tried to secure Taiwan as a fiefdom for her awful family and left in a huff when she failed. The only good thing she ever did for Taiwan was to leave it. Now this evil and corrupt woman is where she belongs -- in Hell. The world is a cleaner, better place for that.
And that, folks, is the other side of the story.

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