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

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0804 1010911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110911Z APR 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4837
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6627
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7873

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000804

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, CHINA-JAPAN
RELATIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus news coverage April 11 on the dispute between the Executive
Yuan and the National Communications Council; on the 2008
presidential elections; and on other local political issues. In
terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the pro-status quo
"China Times" discussed the U.S.-ROK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and
the potential China-ROK FTA. The article said China is eager to
sign an FTA with Seoul because it wants to interrupt the joint
counterbalance formed by the United States and South Korea. An
op-ed piece in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times," on the other hand, commented on
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan. The article said
"Asia's peace, stability and prosperity hinge on whether the two
powers can manage to live together and lead the region into the 21st
century." End summary,

2. U.S.-ROK Free Trade Agreement

"Connection between the U.S.-ROK Free Trade Agreement and China-ROK
Free Trade Agreement"

The "International Outlook" column in the pro-status quo "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] noted (4/11):

"The United States and South Korea signed a Free Trade Agreement
(FTA) and, besides economic objectives, the political objectives
[behind such a move] are very obvious as well. China is also eager
to push for signing an FTA with South Korea, with even more obvious
political purposes. If the United States intends to counterbalance
China by strengthening the U.S.-ROK relations, Beijing's plan to
fortify relations with Seoul will naturally be aimed at interrupting
the joint counterbalance by the United States and South Korea. ..."

3. China-Japan Relations

"Hopes Rise for China, Japan Thaw"

Jing-dong Yuan, director of the education program at the Center for
Nonproliferation Studies and an associate professor of international
policy studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in
California, opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (4/11):

"Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will pay a visit to Japan this week.
Five years after the last Sino-Japanese summit, Wen's visit brings
with it high hopes for a thaw in bilateral relations. ... Wen's
visit comes at a critical juncture in East Asian international
relations -- never before have China and Japan both achieved
prominence at the same time. ... One of the most sensitive issues
in the relationship -- as Beijing sees it -- is related to the
growing ties between Taipei and Tokyo. For the most part, the
Japanese government did so by keeping ties between Tokyo and Taipei
unofficial and low profile. However, three trends have emerged to
challenge the stability of the relationship.

"First, Taiwan has evolved from a KMT-controlled authoritarian state
to an emerging democracy. As a result, there is growing affinity
between Taiwan and Japan. Second. China's 1995 and 1996 missile
exercises in the Taiwan Strait raised the specter that Beijing could
resort to the use of force to resolve the Taiwan issue. Because of
Taiwan's strategic location along sea routes used by Japan, Tokyo
has become more attentive to the cross-strait development. Third,
economic transformation in eastern Asia and growing economic
interdependence has promoted greater economic ties as Japanese
companies seek to capitalize on Taiwanese business links to China.
...

"Beijing has plenty of reasons to be worried about the growing
Tokyo-Taipei ties. ... But what is encouraging is that at least
Beijing and Tokyo can explore ways to best manage these disputes,
even if they are unable to resolve them. ... Asia's peace,
stability and prosperity hinge on whether the two powers can manage
to live together and lead the region into the 21st century. Wen's
visit should keep the momentum going."

WANG

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