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


DE RUEHIN #0622/01 0780922
R 190922Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage March 17-19 on the DPP government's decision to appoint
Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu as the new TECRO chief;
on the drafting of a constitution for a "Second Republic"; and on
the 2008 presidential elections. The pro-independence "Liberty
Times" ran a banner headline on page five that read "Major Task for
Joseph Wu's Appointment to the United States is to Stabilize the
Relationship among the Three Sides." The pro-unification "United
Daily News" also ran a banner headline on page two that said "Joseph
Wu, the First DPP Representative to the United States."

2. In terms of editorial and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said it will be Taipei's own wishful
thinking if it treats Washington as a shortcut to Beijing by sending
its official in charge of cross-Strait affairs to Washington D.C. A
"Liberty Times" analysis said Wu's strength is that he is able to
comprehend the DPP administration's policy. An analysis in the
pro-status quo "China Times" said it is solely incumbent on the
TECRO chief to communicate precisely with the United States about
President Chen Shui-bian's "Four Wants and One Without" policy. A
"United Daily News" column said Wu's appointment is also aimed at
adding fuel to the already widely spreading name-change campaign.
An editorial in the limited-circulation, conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post," on the other hand,
refuted Assistant Secretary of State Glyn Davies's remarks before
the House Thursday, in which he said that China's and Taiwan's
"checkbook diplomacy" is distorting the democratic process in the
Pacific Island nations. End summary.

3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

A) "The Load Is Heavy for Joseph Wu, but the Course Will Not Be

Columnist Antonio Chiang commented in the mass-circulation "Apple
Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (3/19):

"... Because of the impact of Taiwan's political development, many
clashes have occurred in the relations between Taipei and Washington
over the past few years. As substantive changes happened in the
triangular relationship among Taipei, Washington, and Beijing, the
previous and incumbent TECRO chiefs became the scapegoats. The
Green camp felt that they had worked perfunctorily and doubted their
loyalty [to the DPP government], while the Blue camp criticized them
with sarcasm and mockery for hanging onto men of influence and
seeking the patronage of the enemies. Sometimes the Americans also
had doubts about whether they had a reliable channel to communicate
problems faithfully. This is a job that looks magnificent from the
outside but whose hardships few people really understand. ...

"Since it came into power [a few years ago,] the DPP has been
criticized as lacking real talent in foreign relations, national
defense, finance and economics. In fact, the real problem lies in
the leader's ability to know his people and employ them to the best
advantage. Now that A-Bian is about to complete his term, and he
has just started to learn how to manage his people, it is already
too late to really achieve anything. Taipei-Washington relations
and cross-Strait relations are two birds that can be killed with one
stone. Beijing has long treated Washington as a shortcut to Taipei,
but it would be Taipei's wishful thinking if it wanted to follow
suit and treat Washington as a shortcut to Beijing by sending the
chairman of its Mainland Affairs Council to be stationed in
Washington D.C."

B) "Diplomats Ought to Work for Their Country Rather Than for Their
Own Political Party"

Washington correspondent Nadia Tsao noted in an analysis in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000] (3/19):

"... Washington in general has a very favorable opinion of the DPP
administration's decision to send Joseph Wu to serve as Taiwan's
representative in the United States. In addition to his excellent
qualifications, the main point is that he can truthfully comprehend
the DPP government's policies. David Lee's appointment to Canada
has also set an example for diplomats, showing that all talents work
for their country and any political party can rely on them as long
as they have ability."

C) "To Convey Bian's Ideas to the United States, Joseph Wu Steps up
to the Battlefront"

Journalist Chiang Hui-chen noted in an analysis in the pro-status
quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (3/19):

"... Ever since the beginning of 2007, Bian's administration has had
its campaign strategy for 2008 ready. At first, it was the National
Security Council that, in a big move, invited the retired heads of
five foreign states to Taiwan to unveil the topic of 'transitional

justice.' Then, followed by the warm-up activities to the 2-28
Incident commemoration and the storms to get rid of anything related
to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Chen Shui-bian tossed off the
"Four Wants and One Without" remarks in early March, which has
formally stated his four main focuses - namely, 'independence, name
change, new constitution, and development.'

"While the Blue camp was using what was left of its energy following
the 'battle between Wang Jin-pyng and Ma Ying-jeou' to attack the
'independence and name change' parts of Bian's "Four Wants," they
overlooked the fact that 'new constitution and development' are the
real campaign focus for Bian. It all hinges on the tactical
promotion of [Taiwan's] cross-Strait policy in order to work out
tactfully the plan for a 'new constitution and development,' and to
accomplish this goal, it is solely incumbent on the TECRO chief to
stabilize the pressure from the international community and to
communicate precisely [with the United States].

"The authorities pointed out that the idea of the new constitution
that Bian is about to toss off will be carried out step-by-step in
the direction of systemic reform with appeals for a 'Second
Republic' and a 'Cabinet [i.e., parliamentary] system.' As for the
call for 'development,' this has subtly implied that the candidate
for the 2008 presidential election that Bian will support will
adjust the government's cross-Strait policy to make it meet the
major economic interests that concerns people's livelihood. This
was the main reason why Washington did not react as harshly as it
before when it learned of the 'Four Wants and One Without.' ... The
reason why the international community had paid close attention to
Joseph Wu was the same as why he was appointed to head the TECRO.
Wu will act and deliver Chen's messages on his behalf about the new
constitution and the opening cross-Strait policy in the most precise
way and most favorable terms for Bian during his remaining year in

D) "David Lee, the Departed"

The "Black and White" column in the pro-unification "United Daily
News" [circulation: 400,000] wrote (3/19):

"Taiwan's representative to the United States David Lee will be
replaced by Joseph Wu. The move symbolized that the Bian
administration has decided thoroughly to abandon the course of using
career diplomats, and it is also aimed at adding fuel to the name
change campaign which is already spreading like wildfire. ... Over
the more than two years during which Lee headed the TECRO office,
there have been constant rumors that he would be replaced. This
situation reflected that he has failed to gain the trust he deserves
as a career diplomat with over 20 years of experience in the
Blue-Green politics. Now that he will be transferred to Canada, he
can finally get rid of this 'infernal' diplomatic career in which
he, as a 'Blue person,' can hardly speak on behalf of the Green
camp. ..."

E) "Checkbook Diplomacy Is Much the Same, No Matter Who Pays"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (3/19):

"... Glyn Davies told Congressmen both Taiwan and China are trying
to outdo each other by throwing huge sums of money at the Pacific
leaders, and the United States remains uneasy about the competition
for recognition in the South Pacific. 'To the extent that (China)
and Taiwan engage in 'checkbook diplomacy' to gain favor with
Pacific leaders,' he was quoted as saying, 'the political process in
those countries will be distorted.' ...

"But it's unfair for Davies to claim Taipei's checkbook diplomacy is
distorting the democratic process in the Pacific Island nations.
Uncle Sam himself extended aid in grants and financial assistance in
other forms to keep or win over diplomatic allies against the Soviet
Union during the Cold War. Didn't Washington aid Saddam Hussein in
his war on Iran? What's the Contra scandal all about? Of course,
that assistance was not called checkbook diplomacy, albeit no one
can see where it differed fundamentally from what Taipei and Beijing
are said to engage in. Besides, the diplomatic war between Taiwan
and China little affects the political process of the island nations
in the South Pacific. Washington wants all of them to be free and
democratic. Democracy evolves. It cannot be bought. Nor can it be
handed over on a sliver plate just as the United States has been
trying to do to post-Hussein Iraq."


© Scoop Media

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