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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Sixtieth Anniversary

VZCZCXYZ0020
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0448/01 0580911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270911Z FEB 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4240
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6407
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7649

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000448

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - LLOYD NEIGHBORS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS, SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE 2-28 INCIDENT


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus news coverage February 27 on the upcoming sixtieth anniversary
of the 2-28 Incident, and on the 2008 presidential elections. In
terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed piece in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" discussed Taiwan's name change
campaign and said the United States "owes" Taiwan since the signing
of the U.S.-China Shanghai Communiqu 35 years ago, in which Taiwan
was considered part of China. Several papers editorialized on the
2-28 Incident: The "Liberty Times" editorial urged Taiwan's
nativist regime to uncover the truth of the 2-28 Incident,
thoroughly carry out transitional justice and transform Taiwan into
a normal country. An editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily
News," however, urged Taiwan to learn from the 2-28 Incident and
strive to prevent its rulers from manipulating ethnic antagonism.
An op-ed in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times," on the other hand, said the United
States must "accept moral responsibility" because it "stood by and
did nothing" in the wake of the 2-28 Incident. End summary.

2. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

"United States has Owed Taiwan for 35 Years"

Luo Chih-cheng, associate professor and chair of the Department of
Political Science at Soochow University, opined in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000] (2/27):

"This year's February 28 will mark the 35th anniversaries of the
signing of the U.S.-China Shanghai Communique, which signifies the
origin of the United States' 'one China policy,' because Washington
said in the communique that 'The United States acknowledges that all
Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is
but one China, and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United
States Government does not challenge that position.' But the
problem is that major changes have taken place in the Taiwan Strait
now since 35 years ago. In Taiwan, those who identify themselves as
Taiwanese have long exceeded 60 percent and, besides, a majority of
the Taiwan people believes that Taiwan is not part of the People's
Republic of China. Therefore, it is obviously an obsolete move and
a challenge to the status quo if one insists on imposing the 'one
China' framework outlined in the Shanghai Communiqu on Taiwan.

"On the other hand, however, the real purpose of the name change
campaign launched proactively in Taiwan recently is not to sabotage
the status quo but to reflect faithfully and ensure the peaceful
status of Taiwan's democracy. This is because the power pushing for
the name change campaign comes from the political reality and status
quo of rising Taiwan identity. ... Therefore, if the United States
can view and support with calmness Taiwan's name change campaign
which reflects objective reality, [it will learn that] those who
oppose the name change campaign are those who like to make a fuss
about trifles and who have lost contact with reality. ..."

3. Sixtieth Anniversary of the 2-28 Incident

A) "To Carry out Transitional Justice Should Be the Top Priority for
a Nativist Regime"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000]
editorialized (2/27):

"Tomorrow will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the 2-28 Incident,
and private communities as well as the ruling and opposition parties
all conduct activities and seminars to show their respect and
commemoration of this historic tragedy. The uncovering of the truth
of the 2-28 Incident and its historical position and interpretation
are the core subject that determines whether Taiwan is able to break
away from the historical shadow of rule by martial law, thoroughly
to carry out transitional justice, and to cultivate a democratic
culture of tolerance and respect. ...

"The nativist regime has ruled for nearly seven years, but the
progress it has made with regard to carrying out transitional
justice has seemed limited. One can naturally attribute this to the
ill-intentioned hindrance created by the Blue camp and
pro-unification faction. But the nativist regime must also honestly
reflect on itself and not blame others when it comes to whether it
has really regarded the implementation of transitional justice as
its most important historical mission and has striven for
transforming [Taiwan] into a normal country despite all
difficulties. ..."

B) "No More Manipulation of Ethnic Confrontation: the Lesson for the
Sixtieth Anniversary of the 2-28 Incident"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (2/27):
OF THE 2-28 INCIDENT

"... Prior to this year's February 28 Memorial Day, several opinion
polls of different sources indicated that as much as 50 to 60
percent of the Taiwan people believe that ethnic antagonism is
getting worse in Taiwan, and most analysts believe this is a result
of election campaigning. Today, whereas the political impact caused
by, and the pain suffered by, the families of the victims of the
2-28 Incident have lasted for 60 years, Taiwan society, under the
influence of different political forces, still fails to break away
from the shadow of ethnic cleavages. This is in reality Taiwan's
biggest misfortune. ... As a result, if we hope to learn a lesson
from this historic tragedy on the sixtieth anniversary of the 2-28
Incident, we need to acknowledge the cruel fact that war suppresses
human nature, and we should keep in mind the spirits of those people
who fought against the national machine. All the more, against the
current backdrop of Taiwan's society, we need to strive to prevent
political rulers from manipulating ethnic confrontation. ..."

C) "228 Crucial to Taiwan's Political Landscape"

Shen Chieh, a U.S.-based journalist, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (2/27):

"... The 228 Incident marked the beginning of Taiwan's independence
movement, and it represents a crucial watershed in Taiwanese
politics. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was responsible for
mass slaughter, and the US, which stood by and did nothing, must
accept moral responsibility. ... Sixty years later, the regime
responsible for slaughtering Taiwanese has been eliminated by
voters, and Taiwanese still hope that the US will recognize and
protect this nascent democracy. The US missed an earlier
opportunity by ignoring justice. It should do good now by giving
Taiwanese belated justice."

YOUNG

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