Report by Bobb Drake.
A few weeks ago, ESPN’s use of a map of China featuring the Nine Dash Line may have gone unnoticed or passed off as a careless gaffe. The map, rarely seen outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), was featured on an October 9 broadcast about the fallout between the NBA and China over a (subsequently deleted) tweet by Houston Rocket’s general manager in support of the Hong Kong citizens who are resisting Beijing’s increased influence in the governance of Hong Kong en masse.
But times are changing. The general American public is, for the first time, becoming aware of the extent of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) interference in, and censorship pressures on, Western entities who want to do business in the PRC. In this climate, did Disney-owned ESPN cross a line in using this internationally contentious map to discuss the recent Chinese issue with the NBA? Will this be seen as pandering to the CCP and meet with a backlash by the American public?
Chinese map featuring the Nine Dash Line aired on an ESPN broadcast discussing NBA’s geopolitical run-in with China
The map has been used by China since 1947 and represents the country’s internationally unrecognized claim of sovereignty over a large area of the South China Sea outlined by nine dashes, or sometimes ten as seen in the version shown on ESPN. The area comprises a large number of territorial disputes between the PRC, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.
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It’s early 2020 and by now it’s not exactly news when you hear someone declaring China as a land of opportunity. Most macro- and micro-economic indicators put the country at the top (or close to the top) of any list of the most dynamic economies of the world.
Let's clarify. Translation mistakes ARE fixable. Most of the time, anyway. Usually, the solution is to throw more money at it, to correct the problem and, if the language services provider (LSP) is the one at fault, it’s up to him to foot the bill.
The status quo for global corporations and media doing business in the PRC has been to bow to Chinese influences and censorship pressures to avoid consequences such as getting their products or company banned in the market. With an increased public awareness of this practice comes an increased risk of public backlash, with consequences ranging from public relations issues to mockery to potential boycotting and financial losses.