The Pelosi effect: Taiwanese people need to be aware of media bias


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August despite threats from China.

The media shapes a society’s politics, economics and culture, exerting power over the people. Yet, the extremity in many news outlets may prevent citizens from forming their own conclusions — evident not only on a daily basis, but especially during major events. 

The world nervously watched House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) arrive in Taipei, Taiwan on Aug. 4, marking the highest-ranking U.S. government official’s visit to Taiwan in 25 years. The House Speaker, who took the most tracked flight of all time according to Flightradar24, had not included a trip to Taiwan as part of her itinerary but decided to stay over 19 hours in Taipei, although she was urged not to by the Biden administration. 

Pelosi’s visit has generated global attention on Taiwan, causing the island to become one of the most prominent nations battling for recognition. Despite Pelosi reaffirming the “One China” policy, which officially recognizes the People’s Republic of China with Taiwan as its province, China has repeatedly expressed its disapproval of the visit through militaristic and economic means, further increasing cross-strait tensions. 

Both domestic and international media have continually emphasized negative effects that come with Pelosi’s visit, such as economic strains with China and increased military conflicts. This negative perception of the visit has incited more fear within the public, instead of providing informative knowledge for citizens. That being said, it is essential for Taiwanese people to learn to draw their own conclusions regarding the visit instead of having their opinions controlled by the media.  

One of the most reported and analyzed effects of Pelosi’s visit is the rising conflict between Taiwan and China, highlighting a possible Chinese invasion. Global media coverage of China responding with a series of live-fire military drills around Taiwan, including the firing of 11 ballistic missiles near the island, has alarmed many people regarding a potential attack. Taiwan has since retaliated by tightening security, working to improve defense capabilities and making greater investments to protect the island from escalating tensions, even shooting down Chinese drones hovering in Taiwanese restricted air space.

Even though militaristic conflicts have increased exponentially due to Pelosi’s visit, global coverage of these drills fails to mention China’s unstable economy and its inexperience with war. As a country that has not fought an actual war for more than four decades, China has not had the opportunity to test its technologies despite investing in its military. A Chinese invasion could end up disastrously as the country would not only need to navigate the geographic terrains of the island but would also need to face geopolitical threats from other nations that would object to an invasion. Furthermore, the media does not bring up China’s economic struggles due to a severe drought of Yangtze River, damaging the nation’s main access to its economic fundamentals. A high-scaled war would only further ruin their economy, causing the country to lose their power in the East Asian region. 

As the media continues to present extreme information about a possible outbreak of war to elicit public reaction, citizens of Taiwan must determine the accuracy of these news reports and draw their own conclusions on the effects of Pelosi’s stay in Taiwan. 

Moreover, news agencies have reported heavily on China straining economic ties with Taiwan. China has recently implemented new restrictions on imported Taiwanese goods, such as frozen fish, fruits, biscuits and sweets, eliciting public concern about Taiwan’s economy. 

However, according to Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), China’s new trading restrictions on Taiwan only affects 0.04% of Taiwan’s economy. Because Taiwan has gradually steered away from Chinese trade over the years, the products that China has restricted are only a small fraction of Taiwan’s exported goods. Its deterrence from Chinese trade has allowed Taiwan to emerge as independent from China’s trade bans, thus proving media reporting inaccurate. 

Fundamentally, Taiwanese people should scrutinize the accuracy of media reporting surrounding the effects of Pelosi’s visit to form their own opinions, as the media continues to lean towards sensationalist presentations of the visit in order to evoke greater public response.