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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0509/01 0642238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 052238Z MAR 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4331
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6425
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7674

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000509

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


1. Summary: Several major Chinese-language dailies in Taiwan gave
front-page coverage March 5 to President Chen Shui-bian's "Four
Wants and One Without" remarks made at a banquet Sunday evening
marking the 25th anniversary of the Formosan Association for Public
Affairs (FAPA) -- namely, Taiwan wants independence, name changes, a
new Constitution, and development, and Taiwan does not have issues
of right or left, rather of unification or independence. News
coverage on March 3-5 also focused on the Lantern Festival, the 2008
presidential elections, and the DPP government's plan to change the
name of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and tear down its
surrounding wall. Both the pro-status quo "China Times" and
pro-unification "United Daily News" devoted the front page and one
inside page to discussing President Chen's "Four Wants and One
Without" announcement and the Blue and Green camps' reactions to it.
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" and the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily," however, only gave limited coverage to the news on
one of their inside pages. Today's evening paper, the "United
Evening News," ran a front-page banner headline that said "Taiwan
Stocks Shot down by Bian's Independence Arrow, Plunging by 285
Points."

2. In terms of editorials an commentaries, a "China Times" analysis
said one of the reasons why President Chen added dosage to his
"independence poison" by announcing the "Four Wants and One Without"
was because his recent heavy-handed name change campaign has failed
to stimulate Washington and Beijing as he had hoped. A "United
Daily News" analysis, however, questioned if Chen can really make a
clean break with the "Four Nos" pledge he made to the United States.
A separate "United Daily News" column discussed a recent article by
Shirley Kan, a U.S. Congressional Research Service expert, on Taiwan
and the United States. The article said the reason why the DPP
government has become so arrogant was closely related to the United
States, which wants, but fails, to play well the Taiwan card between
both sides of the Taiwan Strait. A "Liberty Times" editorial, on
the other hand, discussed the recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan
announced by the Pentagon. The article said it is good that
Washington has noticed the military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait,
but it is worrisome that the arms deal will be blocked by the Blue
camp in the Legislative Yuan again. An op-ed in the
limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" commented on Taiwan's name change campaign and said,
"(i)nstead of chasing after name changes of little consequence, the
US had better try to determine what future relationship with Taiwan
would best serve its interest." End summary.

A) "Bombshell of 'Four Wants and One Without': Bian Puts in
'Independence Poison,' of Which the Destructiveness Is Stronger Than
Firecrackers [set off during the current Lantern Festival]"

Journalist Lin Shu-ling noted in an analysis in the pro-status quo
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (3/5):

"[The impetus for] Bian's surprise remarks was not untraceable.
First, he was invited to attend a banquet marking the 25th
anniversary of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA).
Judging from previous experience, Chen normally makes remarks that
cross the limit at pro-independence activities. Second, having
walked out of the shadow of the 'Presidential Office Allowance for
State Affairs case,' Chen immediately tilted himself toward the dark
Green stalwarts, in an attempt to secure the pro-Bian strength of
the Taiwan independence fundamentalists. Third, Lee Teng-hui was
criticizing Bian again, and he could not stand Lee's provocative
remarks. ...

"It has been nearly seven years since Bian came to power, and never
has he publicly challenged the pledges he made to the United States
like this before. The 'Four Wants and One Without' remarks Chen
tossed out yesterday evening seemed in verbal parallelism to his
'Four Nos and One Without' pledge, but the obvious intent of these
remarks was unprecedented. On the surface, Bian's move seemed a
repetition of the DPP's routine practice prior to elections, in
which it tries to boost campaigning for the Green camp by provoking
China and stepping on the red line on purpose so as to spur
Washington and Beijing into attacking the DPP government. On the
other hand, Bian is more interested in building up his position as
the 'paramount leader of independence supporters.' He hopes to kick
Lee Teng-hui aside as well as restrain and direct the four DPP
'bigwigs' to follow the agenda he sets.

"Bian's recent move forcefully to push for the name change campaign
in an almost authoritarian manner has in fact implied his intent to
stimulate Washington and Beijing. But he failed to achieve what he
desired -- Washington just expressed its routine concern without
giving any harsh comments, while Beijing did not make any response
at all. This must be one of the reasons why Chen decided to add
dosage to his 'independence poison.' It is a little more than a
year until [the] 2008 [presidential election]. Bian will not be
able to continue controlling and manipulating the political
situation, even if he wants to, after the DPP selects its

presidential candidates. It will be exactly what Chen hopes for if
Washington and Beijing make a big move in the wake of his
announcement of 'Four Wants and One Without.' In reality, what Chen
fears most now is that neither the United States nor China pays any
attention to him and that the 'four bigwigs' give no reaction to his
remarks. ..."

B) "To Cut off the Pledges of Four Nos and One Without, Can Bian Do
That?"

Washington correspondent Vincent Chang wrote in an analysis in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (3/5):

"... It looks as if Chen Shui-bian wants to make a clean break with
the 'Four Nos and one Without' pledge that he has made constantly to
the Americans. The pro-independence supporters below the stage were
indulged in and fascinated by Chen's speech. ... But it would seem
a premature judgment if one asserts that Chen's 'Four Wants'
announcement was akin to denying his 'Four Nos' pledge to the United
States. Unless Chen announces that he has abandoned the 'Four Nos'
pledge, there remains room [for him] to maneuver when he explains to
the Americans about his 'Four Wants and One Without' in the future,
be they lip service or not. ...

"As a matter of fact, the U.S. State Department was long prepared
regarding Chen's speech at the FAPA annual meeting; it was just
unclear about what Bian was going to say. Based on the Americans'
understanding and what they have learned about Chen's behavior
patterns, as well as his argument logic afterwards, even though
Chen's 'Four Wants and One Without' announcement may trigger
Washington's tension and concerns, the matter may drop temporarily
following an exchange of 'questions and explanations,' if Chen does
not pursue it with any follow-on moves and if such a situation is
accepted by Washington. But Washington is clearly aware in its
heart that this year will not be a quiet year for Taiwan. Chen has
already announced that the island will push for its bid to join the
United Nations under the name of Taiwan. Perhaps it will depend on
whether Bian really means what he said to the pro-independence
faction to tell whether the United States will continue to reiterate
that its policy remains unchanged, or whether it will take further
action to tighten its relations with Taiwan."

C) "Frog in the Well and Chicken Little"

The "Black and White" column in the pro-unification "United Daily
News" [circulation: 400,000] noted (3/5):

Shirley Kan, U.S. congressional expert on Taiwan affairs, recently
used 'frog in the well' and 'Chicken Little' to describe the
Taiwan-U.S. relationship. It goes without saying that Taiwan is the
'frog in the well' that draws a line limiting itself but blows its
own horn. This is a fact well-known to the world. But for the
United States to call itself 'Chicken Little,' which watches
nervously as the DPP plays various kinds of games, is something new.
...

"It is truly bizarre that it takes the United States seven years to
figure out that the DPP is a frog in the well, and still Washington
can do nothing about it. Let's not just say that, from the United
States' perspective, Taiwan is like a frog in the well. In the eyes
of the Taiwan people, the DPP is a frog in the well from head to toe
as well! All the U.S. government worries about is that Taiwan does
not buy weapons to defend itself and that it will become
strategically isolated. But as for the Taiwan people, they have not
only witnessed the arrogance and incompetence of the DPP government
but also have to accept the consequences of Taiwan's weakening
economy and foreign relations.

"The Bush administration might as well give it some thought: The
fact that this frog in the well has become so arrogant was in
reality closely related to the United States, which wants but fails
to play the Taiwan card well between the two sides of the Taiwan
Strait. The KMT was very obedient in the past, but the DPP is very
naughty now. Taiwan-U.S. relations have long since deviated from
their former track, and the United States' stick and carrot approach
is no longer effective. Just look at how many Americans have come
to Taiwan over the past few years to lobby arms deals; can the frog
in the well not feel pleased and smug? ..."

D) "Use People's Power to Safeguard Taiwan's Security via a
Democratic Mechanism"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000]
editorialized (3/3):

"Right on the sixtieth anniversary of Taiwan's 2-28 Incident, the
Pentagon announced on February 28 that it will sell two kinds of
advanced missiles, totaling over 400, to Taiwan. Sources added that
these two kinds of missiles will be equipped on the F-16 fighter

jets in an attempt to strengthen Taiwan's capabilities to defend
itself against China's threat.

"We are both happy and worried upon hearing the news. We are happy
because the military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait has caused
grave concerns on the part of the United States, which thus
announced this arms sale according the 'Taiwan Relations Act.' In
addition, it was significant that [Washington] chose to announce the
deal on the sixtieth anniversary of the 2-28 Incident. [On the
other hand,] we are worried that the United States proposed this
arms deal because it is concerned about Taiwan's defensive
capability. But Taiwan's legislative body, with the pan-Blue camp
occupying the majority of seats, will likely shelve the deal again.
The destiny of the previous special arms procurements budget, which
was blocked by the Blue camp in the Legislative Yuan, remains
uncertain yet. In other words, even though the United States has
approved [new] arms sale to Taiwan, Taiwan may not be able to get
the weapons smoothly in time. ..."

E) "Chasing after Names Not so Foolish"

Nat Bellocchi, former AIT chairman and now a special adviser to the
Liberty Times Group, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (3/5):

"... The US focus on cross-strait issues is primarily on lowering
tensions. As important as that is, and aside from the relationship
with China, the US ought to concern itself with not only the
domestic politics of Taiwan, but in gaining consensus within the
many elements of the government in Washington. Taiwan's two major
political parties have very different objectives that impact on the
direction the nation is likely to take. The question for the US is:
What should it do once the elections are over? ...

"Instead of chasing after name changes of little consequence, the US
had better try to determine what future relationship with Taiwan
would best serve its interest. At this stage, one party states it
would establish a much broader relationship with China. Little is
said about security issues, but its actions have shown that Taiwan
would like not to be much involved in that issue. The other party
would continue to press for its political objectives. As a
consequence it may well be troublesome, but its interest will likely
be in continuing close relations with its present friends, while
continuing to seek dialogue with Beijing. Instead of pressing
Taiwan not to change names, it would have been better if Washington
had pressed China into establishing a dialogue with the elected
leaders of Taiwan. Unfortunately, the US also did not seem to have
the kind of dialogue with Taiwan that is needed."

YOUNG

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