Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Dprk, Iran


DE RUEHIN #0691/01 0860954
R 270954Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus news coverage March 27 on the 2008 presidential elections, on
the alleged scandal involving the privatization of the Taiwan
Television Enterprise, and on other local issues. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an op-ed piece in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" provided a unique perspective on strategic thinking in
U.S.-Taiwan relations. The articles pointed out that how Beijing
determines its future national status will have a strong impact on
the U.S. position and its corresponding policies toward China. An
op-ed piece in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times," on the other hand, discussed the
appointment of Taiwan's incumbent Mainland Affairs Council Chairman
Joseph Wu as the new TECRO chief. The article said "Wu's mission
will be a daunting one. He will have to engage in substantive
diplomacy, restore mutual trust between Washington and Taipei and
help bolster friendly and mutually beneficial relations between the
US and Taiwan." With regard to North Korea, a column in the
pro-status quo "China Times" said the real substantive change now
happening in Northeast Asia is that Pyongyang, sensing China's
threats against its regime, has started to keep its distance from
Beijing and to develop relations with Washington proactively. A
separate "China Times" column discussed Iran and said Iran's
determination to confront the United States is far stronger than
what the public have imagined, because the Iranians firmly believe
that the United States intends to cheat, oppress and even destroy
their nation. End summary.

2. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

A) "Strategic Thoughts on U.S.-Taiwan Relations"

Xue Litai, research fellow at Stanford University's Center for
International Security and Cooperation, noted in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (3/27):

"Beijing normally appears willing to compromise when dealing with
issues involving the United States, but the Taiwan issue stands out
as the most dangerous exception. The conflicts surrounding Taiwan's
status have far exceeded the issue of national dignity. ... It is
obvious that in the foreseeable future, the question regarding which
direction cross-Strait relations will slide toward -- as judged from
the bigger strategic picture and regardless of other factors -- at
least involves Beijing's policy about how it will determine China's
future national status, and as to what ensues, the United States'
perception and judgment of China's national position as well as its
corresponding policies [derived from such perception]. When
discussing the future direction of cross-Strait relations and the
hidden reality of Washington's Taiwan policy in the past, scholars
and officials from all three sides rarely talk about the possible
impact of China's national positioning on the U.S. position and its
relevant policies. But this is in reality the crucial point. To
put it more straightforwardly, this layer is the real truth beneath
the surface, whereas the 'policies' and 'positions' are merely ways
of saying it.

"Taipei is showing enormous energy as it manages to survive while
sandwiched between the two giants - the United States and China -
and is able to make one move after the other. Even though both
Beijing and Washington want to prevent a big war of the century,
they cannot exclude the possibility of both sides making a military
showdown over the Taiwan issue. Every side is watching with its
eyes wide open as cross-Strait relations slide toward a precipitous
cliff, but no one can do anything about it."

B) "Though Challenges Ahead for Wu"

Li Thian-hok, a freelance commentator based in Pennsylvania,
commented in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (3/27):

"... [Joseph] Wu is familiar with President Chen Shui-bian's ideas
and vision for Taiwan and has the full confidence of the president.
There is therefore cause for optimism that the new envoy will be
able to contribute to the restoration of mutual trust between
Washington and Taipei in the critical last year of Chen's
presidency. ... One of Wu's first tasks -- even before he leaves
for the US -- will be to ensure that Chen ceases making such
provocative statements by explaining to him the difficult situation
the US is facing. US military forces are bogged down in Iraq and
Afghanistan and extrication appears years away. If there is a
conflict over Taiwan, the already overstretched US military might
not be able to join the battle in time.

"In another scenario, the US would arrive late on the scene and take
heavy casualties. In any event, the US President George W. Bush
administration feels that any decision to involve the US military in
battle against the PLA in the Taiwan Strait should be made by
Washington, not by Taipei. Taiwan must be sensitive to US fears
that any action by Taiwan could be perceived by Beijing as a move

toward formal independence and trigger a conflict at a most
inopportune time. This does not mean, however, that Taipei should
kowtow to each and every whim of the Bush administration, which is
so preoccupied with the Middle East quagmire that it pays little
attention to the growing potential for conflict in the Taiwan
Strait, with or without provocation by Taiwan. ...

"Wu's second task as representative to the US will be to educate the
US policy elite on the objectives and strategy of the pan-blue
opposition, which seeks Taiwan's annexation by China at the earliest
opportunity. Hence, their consistent opposition to the acquisition
of US weapons, which are badly needed for the defense of the nation.
Through its united front tactics, China is effectively interfering
in Taiwan's domestic politics. Even though the Taiwan Relations Act
purports to protect the human rights of Taiwanese -- including their
right to determine their own future -- Washington may be reluctant
to get in the middle of partisan bickering between the DPP and the
pan-blue opposition. ...

"It is unreasonable for the US to hold Taipei to its 'four noes, one
without' promise when the US is unable to persuade Beijing to
renounce the use of force and cease its active preparation for war.
Washington should be reminded that while, in the short term, the US
may need to avoid conflict with China over Taiwan, its long-term
strategic interests require Taiwan to resist annexation by the PRC,
because once Taiwan falls, it would be very difficult for Japan to
resist becoming a vassal state of China. US forces will then have
to be withdrawn from Asia and the US' political, economic and
strategic interests in the Western Pacific would sustain
incalculable losses.

"Yet to sustain their morale and will to resist Chinese aggression,
Taiwanese must have hope that their struggle to maintain their
freedoms has a chance of success, with support from allies such as
the US and Japan. This means Washington must be careful in its
dealing with Taipei, lest it give the impression that the US is
working with Beijing to undermine Taiwan's sovereignty and
democracy. Washington should weigh the inherent dilemma between its
short-term goal of avoiding war in the Taiwan Strait and the
longer-term objective of denying China's hegemonic ambitions in
Asia. Preserving Taiwan's freedoms is also the way to steer China
toward peaceful development. Wu should urge the Bush administration
to consider dropping its insistence upon the 'four noes, one
without' -- for Chen and his successor. Wu's mission will be a
daunting one. He will have to engage in substantive diplomacy,
restore mutual trust between Washington and Taipei and help bolster
friendly and mutually beneficial relations between the US and


"Keeping a Distance from Beijing, Pyongyang Starts to Embrace

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kuo Chen-lung noted in the International
Column in the pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]

"The interaction between North Korea, the United States, and China
in the past, to put it simply, was that the United States could do
nothing about Pyongyang, while the latter relied on China. As a
result, whenever the United States sought help from China, China
could use North Korea as a bargaining chip to take advantage of the
United States in international relations or even cross-Strait
relations. But the sudden change in Washington-Pyongyang relations
recently has not only surprised Japan and South Korea but has also
astounded China. ...

"The real substantive change happening in Northeast Asia is:
sensing China's threats against its regime, Pyongyang starts to keep
a distance from Beijing and to develop relations with Washington
proactively. Judged from this perspective, Kim Jong-il's move to
spend the Lantern Festival at the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang did
not signify his appreciation toward China over the latter's
assistance to North Korea, as the world has imagined. Instead, it
was a diplomatically perfunctory move simply to give China face."

4. Iran

"Iran Still Will Not Yield to the UNSC Resolution"

The "International Outlook" column in the pro-status quo "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] wrote (3/27):

"... Iran's determination to resist the United States is far beyond
what the world has generally imagined, and in order to confront the
United States, Iran resists all Western policies against itself as
well. What happens here is neither the clash of civilizations, as
Samuel Huntington has pointed out, nor conflicts between Islamic and

Christian culture, but the fact that Iranians firmly believe that
the United States intends to cheat and oppress and even to destroy
their nation. As a result, the usually divided Iran is tightly
united now. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not stupid; he is so
anti-U.S. because he understands the Iranians' emotions at this
moment. Thus, the stronger the pressure imposed by the Western
world gets, the less possible it is for Iran to yield. ..."


© Scoop Media

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