Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Who Bid, China-Japan Relations,
DE RUEHIN #0851/01 1060851
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160851Z APR 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4909
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6643
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7888
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000851
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: TAIWAN'S WHO BID, CHINA-JAPAN RELATIONS,
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage April 14-16 on the 2008 presidential elections and other
local issues. The latest poll conducted by the pro-status quo
"China Times" Sunday showed that former Premier Frank Hsieh leads
the four party hopefuls as the favored DPP candidate to run in the
2008 presidential election. In terms of editorials and
commentaries, a column in the pro-unification "United Daily News"
commented on the U.S. State Department's response to Taiwan's
attempt to join the World Health Organization (WHO) as a full member
under the name "Taiwan." The article said the State Department's
comment has clearly indicated that Taiwan is not a sovereign state,
at least not with the national title of a sovereign state, so it
cannot possibly apply for membership for the WHO using this name.
With regard to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's recent visit to
Japan, a "China Times" column said Japan has shifted its strategy by
attaching more importance to Asia than to the United States. An
editorial in the limited-circulation, conservative, pro-unification,
English-language "China Post" called Wen's visit a step in the right
direction. An editorial in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," on the other
hand, discussed cross-Strait relations. The article said "Thinking
that China would prioritize the success of the Olympics over
preventing Taiwan's de jure independence comes from a lack of
understanding of China's motivation." End summary.
2. Taiwan's WHO Bid
"Taiwan Will Encounter the 'Nightmare of [Colin] Powell Again?"
Washington correspondent Vincent Chang noted in the "United Notes"
column in the pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation:
"... The U.S. State Department's response to Taiwan's application
for membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) was divided
into two parts. First, it reiterated the U.S. policy of not
supporting membership for Taiwan in international organizations
requiring 'statehood.' Since there are no diplomatic ties between
the United States and Taiwan and it does not recognize the Republic
of China diplomatically, this policy statement, though depressing,
was not totally unexpected. But the United States did not thereby
deny the sovereignty status of the ROC. The second part of the
State Department's statement, however, came as a surprise, because
the State Department criticized that 'Application in the name of
Taiwan to become a member of an international organization whose
membership is only open to sovereign states appears to be
inconsistent with President Chen Shui-bian's commitment on name
"Since WHO is an international organization which only 'sovereign
states' are allowed to enter, the second part of the State
Department statement, if judged from a good perspective, showed that
Washington was 'implying' that the island's current national title
is the ROC rather than Taiwan, and that only the 'ROC' is eligible
for a sovereignty status. But judged from another perspective, the
State Department [statement] is akin to 'indicating clearly' that
Taiwan is not a sovereign state, or at least not the national title
of a sovereign state. It is therefore impossible [for Taiwan] to
apply for membership for WHO using this name. More importantly,
such a move has also violated Chen's pledge not to change the
national title of the ROC.
"Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said during a
television interview that 'Taiwan is not a sovereign state,' a
statement that has aroused grave concerns from Taiwan. The State
Department only clarified in private afterwards that it was 'a slip
of tongue.' If the Bian administration really intends to apply for
full membership for the WHO and the United Nations under the name
'Taiwan' so as to highlight Taiwan's 'sovereignty,' it should simply
go ahead and build Taiwan into an independent country and win the
international community's recognition, so that it is justified in
name and in reasoning. Otherwise, it will be constantly criticized
by Washington as failing to keep its pledge.... Wouldn't it be
afraid that Washington will repeat Powell's statement clearly and
let Taiwan experience the nightmare again?"
3. China-Japan Relations
A) "Has Japan Started to Value Asia More Than the United States?"
The "International Outlook" column in the pro-status quo "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] (4/15):
"Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan has suddenly made the world realize
that China-Japan relations are indeed changing; both sides no longer
focus on what is happening now and instead have integrated their
long-term interests into foreign relations. The change on Japan's
side can be traced back to a long time ago. Tokyo first weighed its
interests if it chose to stand by the United States. It was, of
course, essential to stand by the U.S. side during the Cold War era,
but after that, neither Russia nor China will be able to threaten
Japan in the foreseeable future, so basically there is no need to
rely on the United States militarily. ...
"Shinzo Abe has figured this out and understood the pathetic
[nature] of becoming the United States' 'retinue,' so he would
rather choose to alienate the United States and to befriend Asia.
This way Japan will not be isolated from the abundant economic
interests of this region. ... The reason [behind this] is actually
quite simple. The more popular and influential Japan gets in Asia,
the more the United States will value it. The more Japan is
cold-shouldered in Asia, the less importance Washington will attach
to it. As a matter of fact, in terms of geopolitical strategy in
Asia, it is the United States that needs Japan, not vice versa.
"As for China's part, it is very practical. Beijing forced Japan to
turn its head using a cold gesture, but as long as Tokyo intends to
value Asia more than the United States, China's attitude will change
completely. For China, it is strategically essential to befriend
Japan proactively, and Beijing's sudden change of attitude also came
as a pleasant surprise for Japan. ..."
B) "A Step in the right Direction"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (4/14):
"It goes without saying that mainland Chinese prime minister Wen
Jiabao's visit to Japan this week is historic, taking place at a
time when Sino-Japanese relations have been frosty for too long.
The soft-spoken Chinese leader rightly calls his journey to Japan an
'ice melting' visit. While it remains to be seen whether the trip
will thaw the ice, it is at least a step in the right direction. ...
Wen's three-day visit to Japan should be regarded as a calculated
success, judging from his reception in Japan and his appeal to
improving relations through friendship and cooperation. The visit
could not have come at a better time, when both Tokyo and Beijing
feel the need to thaw their relationship. A protracted freeze of
political relations is apparently not in the interests of either
side, as their economics have become interdependent. Mainland China
has overtaken the United States to become Japan's largest trading
partner in 2006, with bilateral trade totaling US$200 billion.
Japan's investment in China since 1978 has exceeded US$56 billion.
"Now, with the joint statement issued after the Wen-Abe summit, the
political temperature between Beijing and Tokyo is sure to rise,
slowly at least. To be sure, there was no breakthrough on key
issues such as the Yasukuni visit, but a lot of goodwill was shown
by both sides as their leaders pledged to rebuild ties. ..."
4. Cross-Strait Relations
"The Olympics Won't Protect Taiwan"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (4/15):
"... It goes without saying that a successful, incident-free
Olympics in Beijing is a top priority for the Chinese government.
However, it would be naive to assume that Beijing would even
consider adjusting its policy toward Taiwan -- even temporarily --
to improve its image ahead of the games. ... In light of this, some
political analysts have suggested that the period immediately
preceding the 2008 Olympics would be ideal timing for Taiwan to
declare de jure independence. They argue that Beijing would not
dare to invade Taiwan then because such an act would incur the anger
of the international community and jeopardize the success of their
dream of wooing the world in Beijing next year. It would seem this
thought has crossed others' minds as well. US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice last week cautioned Taiwan not to take advantage of
the Beijing Olympics to declare formal independence. ...
"Regardless, the idea that China would turn a blind eye to de jure
independence is too optimistic. That Taiwan should be a province of
China is just as important to China as wooing the international
community. Moreover, Taiwan is important to China for the very same
reason that the Olympics are important to it -- nationalism, a vivid
image of a Great China in days gone by. ... Thinking that China
would prioritize the success of the Olympics over preventing
Taiwan's de jure independence comes from a lack of understanding of