Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #0521/01 0660907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070907Z MAR 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4350
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6432
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7683
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000521
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.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage March 7 on the aftermath of President Chen Shui-bian's
"Four Wants and One Without" remarks Sunday, on Vice President
Annette Lu's announcement to run for the DPP's presidential primary
Tuesday, and on the 2008 presidential elections. All papers carried
on their inside pages the State Department's statement Monday in
response to President Chen's remarks. The pro-status quo "China
Times" ran a banner headline on page four that read "United States
Expects Bian to Clarify and Stick to His Pledge."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" discussed Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao's remarks at the Chinese National People's Congress Monday
and cautioned Taiwan to be alert to China's various united-front
tactics against Taiwan. A "Liberty Times" analysis commented on
Washington's decision to downplay President Chen's "Four Wants"
remarks and said the United States had determined that they were
just Chen's own wishes. A separate "Liberty Times" commentary,
however, said Chen's remarks are meant to find a way out for the
next Taiwan president. An editorial in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" discussed China's
growing national defense budget and called China "a clear and
present danger" to Taiwan and to the world. An editorial in the
limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan
News" said Chen's remarks were aimed at "seizing the initiative for
the DPP in setting a positive agenda for the upcoming year-end
Legislative Yuan elections and even the March 2008 presidential
sweepstakes." An op-ed in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily,"
however, said Chen made the "Four Wants" remarks deliberately to
contrast with Chinese President Hu Jintao's "Four Nos." End
A) "Be Vigilant of the Various Deepening Signs Showing China's
United-Front Tactics against Taiwan"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000]
"... [Chinese Premier] Wen Jiabao's remarks [at China's National
People's Congress March 5] indicated the following points of concern
when it comes to China's current efforts toward Taiwan: First, it
emphasizes economic united-front tactics. Over the past decade,
China's economic united-front tactics toward Taiwan have reaped a
very good harvest. Taiwan's massive investments in China have
pushed Taiwan toward a dangerous road of merging with China
economically. ... Second, it emphasizes expanding its political
united-front tactics. China has been striving to befriend
frustrated Taiwan politicians since 2000 in order to turn them into
a tool for Taiwan's opposition parties to restrain the ruling party.
... Third, it opposes de jure Taiwan independence. Taiwan's
sovereignty is not affiliated with the People's Republic of China,
and the so-called status quo in the Taiwan Strait refers to Taiwan's
independent sovereignty. But even though Taiwan is now an
independent sovereign state, it has yet to be transformed into a
completely normal country, and the efforts of all the Taiwan people
are needed to overcome the difficulties. While Taiwan is moving
toward rectification of its name, writing a new constitution, and
making a bid to join the United Nations, China is seeking to contain
Taiwan in the international community; it also puts pressure on
Taiwan via the United States to obstruct Taiwan's moves toward
[becoming a] a normal country. China's purpose is nothing but to
prevent Taiwan from becoming a normal country, so that it can
realize its aggressive dream of annexing the island. ..."
B) "Determining That Those Are His Own Wishes, the United States
Downplays [Chen's Remarks]"
Washington correspondent Nadia Tsao said in an analysis in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000] (3/7):
"... Having dealt with President Chen for seven years since 2000,
officials in the Bush administration and scholars in Washington have
been trained into experts on Chen, and they have become highly
sensitive toward Taiwan's domestic politics. Everyone seems to be
able to speculate that Chen's remarks were made out of domestic
political concern, and no one seriously believes that he is really
ready to declare Taiwan independence or write a new constitution.
But Chen's credibility has received harsh criticism in private by
Bush administration officials, and when viewed in the long term,
Chen does have a price to pay for this, and he has also offered
Beijing opportunities to pursue and maul the Taiwan issue fiercely.
"But as expected by many people, the State Department's public
comment on March 5 downplayed Chen's announcement. One reason
behind this was that Chen's remarks this time contained no bullets
[i.e. he was bluffing]. ... Also, another reason was because what
Chen announced that he wanted to do is mostly restricted by Taiwan's
political climate, in which the opposition parties take up the
majority of seats in the legislative body, and by international
reality. It is in reality very difficult for Taiwan to write a new
constitution, to declare independence or to join the United Nations
under the name of Taiwan. A scholar therefore admitted in private
that it would be more appropriate to call Chen's announcement his
own wishes rather than his policy. ..."
C) "The Four Wants Are Meant to Find a Way out for the New
Columnist Paul Lin noted in the pro-independence, Chinese-language
"Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000] (3/7):
"... In 1999, one year prior to the 2000 presidential elections, the
then soon-to-retire President Lee Teng-hui proposed the 'special
country-to-country' doctrine, which aroused considerable criticism
inside and outside Taiwan. But that was a new contribution Lee made
for Taiwan in terms of its national identity. Following Lee's
track, President Chen Shui-bian proposed 'one country on either side
of the Taiwan Strait' [in 2002]. Now sixty percent of the people
residing in Taiwan regard themselves as 'Taiwanese people.'
President Chen also tossed off the "Four Wants and One Without"
proposal one year prior to his retirement, which will serve as an
important indicator to determine whether Taiwan's future president
will stickto Taiwan-centered values."
D) "China Is a Clear and Present Danger"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (3/7):
"China plans to spend 350.92 billion yuan (US$44.94 billion) on
national defense this year, a 17.8 percent increase over last year.
The rapid growth of China's military expenditure not only heightens
tension in the Taiwan Strait and unsettles its neighbors but worries
the world community as a whole. ... China's military expansion is
clearly not of a defensive nature, and Taiwan is planted firmly in
its crosshairs. China already has more than 900 missiles aimed at
Taiwan along its eastern seaboard and has established a legal
pretext for using them - along with other types of military force -
by passing the 'Anti-Secession' Law in 2005. ...
"The US must object - and intervene - if Beijing ever decided to
violate regional security by using military force against Taiwan or
Japan. China has been striving to develop its own submarines in
order to prevent the US from sending aircraft carriers into the
Taiwan Strait, as it did after China launched missiles into the
strait in 1996. In addition, Beijing's anti-satellite missile test
in January demonstrated that it is also preparing for war in space.
Since the US is the only state with appreciable military
capabilities in space, one need not be a political scientist to
figure out who China is gearing up to fight. Such zealous
development of "defensive" weaponry is certainly in conflict with
China's "peaceful rise." This buildup is a threat to international
peace, yet in its zeal to maintain business ties, the international
community chooses to either turn a blind eye or to appease Beijing.
E) "What Taiwan Wants, What Taiwan Needs"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (3/7):
"... As is often the case, it is necessary to note that Chen's
statement that 'Taiwan wants independence' was neither a promise to
declare independence nor an admission that Taiwan is not independent
now. ... Even more importantly, Chen's enunciation of Taiwan's
'four wants' clearly aims to seize the initiative for the DPP in
setting a positive agenda for the upcoming year-end Legislative Yuan
elections and even the March 2008 presidential sweepstakes by
offering a catchy and dynamic slogan encapsulating the DPP's vision
for Taiwan's future. ...
"In the future, we believe that Chen can perform his best service
to the DPP and Taiwan society by ensuring that the governing party
unites behind a single candidate who is both visionary and
pragmatic. However, we urge Chen to refrain from trying to put his
stamp on a campaign which will be the responsibility of the new
standard-bearer who will take up the task of leading the DPP and
perhaps Taiwan's society into the post-Chen era."
F) "A-Bian's Four Wants Dispute with Hu Jintao's four Nos"
Emerson Chang, Director of the Department of International Studies
at Nan Hua University, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (3/7):
"... But in reality, everything, including the reason why the
Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) chose to hold its
anniversary banquet on March 4 and the content of President Chen's
speech, was a result of careful planning. March 4 marked the second
anniversary of the day when [Chinese President] Hu Jintao's proposed
his 'four points' -- (namely, [China] insists that its one-China
principle will not waver, its efforts to pursue peaceful unification
will never be abandoned, its guidelines faithfully to place hopes in
the Taiwan people will not change, and it will never compromise when
it comes to separatists' moves toward of Taiwan independence.) Chen
deliberately chose to announce his 'Four Wants' to challenge Hu's
'Four Nos.' ...
"... The United States' decision to downplay the matter has removed
Chen's doubts about '[China] restraining Taiwan via the United
States.' Washington's acceptance of Taiwan's Presidential Office's
explanation that 'Taiwan wants independence means that Taiwan wants
to maintain its independent status' has, without a doubt, endorsed
Chen's next step. If Chen chooses an appropriate occasion to
announce 'Taiwan is independent, and the Taiwan people have stood
up,' it will not only produce an impact on election campaigning in
Taiwan, but the United States will also be caught up in a dilemma
between whether to show support or oppose [Chen's statement]. Also,
China will think that it was played and tricked jointly by
Washington and Taipei. [Should this be the case,] the three sides
will face a showdown."