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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Rok Free Trade Agreement, U.S.-Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0767/01 0960847
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060847Z APR 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4777
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6603
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7854

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000767

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.-ROK FREE TRADE AGREEMENT, U.S.-TAIWAN
ARMS DEAL


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage April 5-6 on the military helicopter crash Tuesday
afternoon, on the Executive Yuan's plan to lift the ban on gambling
on horse and car racing in central and southern Taiwan, and on the
year-end legislators' elections and 2008 presidential elections.
The pro-status quo "China Times" carried an exclusive report on page
four April 6 with the headline, "Lobbying Irritates the State
Department, Taiwan Terminates Contract with BGR." The sub-headline
added "Spending Humongous Sums on Contracting a Public Relations
Company, Yet [the Move] Unexpectedly Endangers U.S.-Taiwan
Relations."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "China Times"
editorial discussed the possible impact of the U.S.-ROK free trade
agreement on Taiwan's economy. The article said Taiwan will be
marginalized and become another Cuba if it loses its economic
strength. An editorial in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," on the other
hand, discussed the aftermath of the military helicopter crash. The
article urged Taiwan's legislators to "pass the military budget
bills currently stalled in the legislature and to include within
them the budget required to provide a safer and more efficient
environment for the nation's military personnel." End summary.

3. U.S.-ROK Free Trade Agreement

"Does Taiwan Want to Become 'Another Cuba'?"

The pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (4/5):

"... When countries in Southeast Asia were ready to sign free trade
agreements (FTA) [with each other] one after the other, the United
States also accelerated its pace by signing FTAs with economies such
as South Korea. The move was of course meant to thwart China's
expanding alliance with other countries in the region and to meet
the United States' own interests as well. It is a fact generally
acknowledged by the entire world that both mainland China and the
Southeast Asian nations will be the world's factories and markets in
the next few years. Once ASEAN-plus-N is formed, economic members
in the world such as the United States will naturally hope to sign
an FTA with it in an attempt to get a piece of the pie. Likewise,
countries such as Japan and South Korea that covet the huge market
and consummation ability of the United States are also interested in
signing such agreements with the United States and ASEAN. As more
and more countries sign FTAs, the potential trade interests
intertwining among them will expand like the Internet. This is a
main reason why Taiwan must not look down on the follow-on
development [of this trend]. When countries in the Asia-Pacific
area sign FTAs with each other, it will be akin to removing trade
barriers between them, and Taiwan will become the only country
excluded [from this net], with all the trade barriers it has with
other nations still in place. Taiwan will be like an orphan in the
international community, completely 'marginalized.' Should this
happen, more Taiwan industries will lose their comparative
advantage, and the hollowing out of the island's industries will
accelerate. In a nutshell, only a few industries in Taiwan were
hollowing out previously, but as Taiwan becomes marginalized, the
island will encounter the crisis of a number of its industries
hollowing out.

"In the face of such an obvious and perilous situation, what is most
pitiful is the stubbornness of the fundamentalists. It is a
well-known fact that China's obstruction is the main reason why
Taiwan is unable to sign FTAs with other countries. To put it in
plain language, the entire design of the ASEAN-plus-N is nothing but
a strategy, whereas mainland China intends to use its trade and
economic strength to blockade Taiwan. In the face of such an
obvious scheme on the part of Beijing, the Taiwan authorities not
only are at their wit's end but also lack the wisdom to feign
civility. Moreover, the island is constantly engaging in efforts to
change its name, to write a new constitution, to strive for the Four
Wants, to de-Sinify, and to divide its ethnic groups -- all moves
aimed at stymieing cross-Strait relations. Taiwan can certainly
maintain a distance from Beijing politically, but despite
everything, we cannot afford to lose our economic strength. What
else will we be able to do except for turning our protests into
domestic consumption during campaigns, when we hit a dead end while
Beijing tries its best to blockade us economically?"

4. U.S.-Taiwan Arms Deal

"Cleaning the Military Cupboard"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (4/5):

"... As the nation mourned the loss of some of the country's elite
ARMS DEAL

military personnel, legislators were quick to play the blame game,
with the pan-greens saying the pan-blues' blocking of the arms
budget bills had a direct bearing on Tuesday's [UH-1H helicopter
crash] accident. The pan-blues, on the other hand, slammed the
pan-greens for being so busy trying to please the US that they had
failed to attend to the need for equipment upgrades outside of the
three major weapon systems offered by the US. ... We urge lawmakers
to pass the military budget bills currently stalled in the
legislature, and to include within them the budget required to
provide a safer and more efficient working environment for the
nation's military personnel. ..."

WANG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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