Saturday, May 24, 2014

Taiwan's Government Not Overthrown By Military Coup

One time in the U.S. when I mentioned I had been to Taiwan, a person I was speaking to replied, "Oh, I LOVE Thai food!"

After a brief brain freeze, I explained that Thai food is Thailand's cuisine and Taiwan's cuisine would be described as Taiwanese. The person was clearly embarrassed, although I explained I thought it was understandable and suspected many others could make a similar mistake.

Despite my familiarity with this potential confusion in English between Taiwan and Thailand, I was still rather surprised to see several recent tweets including this photo of a newspaper page (earliest source I found):

newspaper with article headline "Government overthrown in Taiwan as military stages bloodless coup"

The article headline "Government overthrown in Taiwan as military stages bloodless coup" contains a not-so-minor mistake. As the AP article below correctly states, the coup was actually in Thailand.

Text indicates the newspaper page is from Metro. According to Metro, it is "Canada’s most read national daily newspaper brand". The error is not a photoshop trick and appears to be specific to Metro's Vancouver edition (HT to Chou Peifen for this point--article in Chinese). Here is a recent screenshot I took from the Metro Vancouver weekend May 23-25 print edition currently available online:

screenshot of Vancouver Metro with article title "Government overthrown in Taiwan as military stages bloodless coup"

Other Canadian Metro editions I have seen do not contain the error. For example, here is a screenshot from Metro Toronto of a page with the same AP article :

screen capture of Toronto Metro print edition page with article title "Thai army stages bloodless coup"

So, to be clear, Taiwan is not the home of pad thai or tom yam goong, and the Taiwanese military has kindly refrained from overthrowing its democratically elected government. I recommend the Vancouver Metro staff take a visit to Taiwan. If I am there at the same time, I would be happy to treat them to some of Taiwan's many delicious local specialities. Afterwards, they should be less likely to ever confuse it with Thailand.

UPDATE: See the new post with more reaction and a correction from Metro Vancouver.


  1. it's "Thailand" , not "Taiwan"

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Vancouver is the most Chinese city in north america. .they should know better. . or maybe they did it on purpose

    1. Vancouver's large population of Taiwanese immigrants (and their descendants) does make the error more striking.