Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Who Bid, Taiwan Political


DE RUEHIN #1107/01 1362322
R 162322Z MAY 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus news coverage May 16 on Taiwan's setback in its bid to join
the World Health Organization (WHO); on the new cabinet to be headed
by Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chang Chun-hsiung; on the
island's Han Kuang No. 23 military exercise; and on other local
issues. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" satirized Taiwan's WHO bid, saying it
was a worthy attempt for the DPP after all, as whatever the DPP
government has missed in its diplomatic attempt, it will gain it
back domestically. An editorial in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times," on the other hand, urged the government to try harder for
its bid to join international organization. An editorial in the
critical-of-the-government "China Times" criticized the Chen
Shui-bian government for working against the international trend and
reality in its WHO bid. An op-ed in the same paper discussed Frank
Hsieh's role as the DPP presidential candidate and the DPP
government's cross-Strait policy. The article said that if Hsieh
could influence President Chen to resume dialogue with Beijing, it
will be conducive for Taiwan's economic growth and Taipei-Washington
ties. An op-ed in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" discussed the U.S.-Japan security
pact and said "Taiwan's long-stalled arms procurement package has
weakened its ability to defend itself." End summary.

2. Taiwan's WHO Bid

A) "Diplomacy That Hits One's Head against the Wall"

Columnist Antonio Chiang commented in the mass-circulation "Apple
Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (5/16):

"... Taiwan has been attempting to obtain observer status at the
World Health Assembly (WHA) using the nomenclature of 'health
entity' for the past ten years. But despite its enduring
humiliation and insults, the island has yet to see any concrete
results. Taiwan changed its strategy this year and applied for
membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) using the name
'Taiwan.' Taiwan citizens can barely tell the difference between
WHA and WHO, but the failed attempt this year was more like a simple
and clear-cut death compared to the slow and painful dying process
for the island's WHO bid using the nomenclature of 'health entity.'
In addition, this year's failure can offer [the government] a chance
to make an issue of it during its campaigning and for its future
referendum. Whatever [the government] has missed in its diplomatic
attempt, it will gain it back domestically, anyway, so it was a
worthy attempt for the DPP after all. ..."

B) Taiwan Should Bravely Speak up [for Itself] to Break China's
Containment in the International Community"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000]
editorialized (5/16):

"... It is a real pity that pro-Blue people echo China in its
united-front tactics against Taiwan; they imposed pressure on our
government to accept everything that is unfavorable for the Taiwan
people through folk dramas like the KMT-CPC forum. Pan-Blue people
say it out loud in Taiwan that they safeguard the Republic of China,
but when going abroad, they start to join hands with the Communist
Party of China to restrain Taiwan or even the ROC, working jointly
with their erstwhile enemies to pursue ultimate unification. In
this context, pan-Blue legislators have been trying hysterically to
block the arms procurement package that Taiwan needs desperately.
Pan-Blue legislators also overlooked the fact that the general
budget [for the central government] remains stalled, and they visit
China in groups to show off the united-front tactics. ...

"Taiwan is a democratic country whose sovereignty belongs to its
people. In the face of China's containment in the international
community, Taiwan should speak up for itself bravely. The island's
bid to join the WHO and its other attempts over the past few years
have demonstrated its determination to the world and have thus
gained more and more resonance and support. The setback at the WHA
this year reminded us that we need to work harder. All the more,
the Taiwan people need to elect legislators and a president who will
safeguard the island and pursue our dignity in the international
community for our 23 million people. ..."

C) "Taiwan's Distance with WHO Is Getting Wider"

The critical-of-the-government "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (5/16):

"... Foreign relations are unlike internal issues, anyway, and most
of the variables are not in Taiwan's control. In the face of
Beijing's suppression, Taiwan is in an unfavorable position in the
international community; in particular, it has limited bargaining
chips and thus can hardly control the situation. The most

reasonable approach that Taiwan should adopt is to be realistic, to
take advantage of the [international] trend, and to choose the most
pragmatic and effective survival strategy. But what the Chen
Shui-bian administration has been doing is completely the opposite.
The international reality is that China is rising rapidly and has
increasing bargaining chips to lure away Taiwan's diplomatic allies,
while the United States is caught in the quagmire of the war in Iraq
and is thus unwilling to engage in any conflict with Beijing over
cross-Strait issues. In contrast, Chen's approach over the past few
years has been constantly to step on the red line across the Taiwan
Strait, starting from calls for 'one country on either side of the
Taiwan Strait,' 'name-change,' 'cessation of the National
Unification Council,' to the recent 'Four Wants.' He not only did
not value the long-term friendly relationship and mutual trust
between Taiwan and the United States, but he also failed to put
himself in the shoes of Taiwan's allies and gave Washington the
feeling that its goodwill has been abused or taken advantage of.
What's worse is that Taiwan has thus been viewed as a troublemaker,
sabotaging security in the Asia-Pacific region. The United States,
as a result, proactively defined a circle [for Taiwan] and joined
hands with Beijing to 'manage' the Taiwan issue. Any rash moves by
Taiwan heedless of the international reality will face more
stringent restrictions than before to avoid [Taiwan] creating more
trouble for the United States. ..."

3. Taiwan Political Development

"Turning Point for Reconciliation and Co-existence between the Two
Sides of the Taiwan Strait?"

Edward Chen, professor of Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of
American Studies, opined in the critical-of-the-government "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] (5/16):

"... Evidently, under the strong influence of Frank Hsieh, the new
cabinet to be headed by Chang Chun-hsiung will be the DPP's
strongest-ever 'cross-Strait cabinet.' All the more, the DPP
government's cross-Strait policy will likely be tilted toward
'reconciliation and co-existence.' ... Third, over the past three
years, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and State Department
officials have repeatedly expressed their hope that Taiwan will
resume dialogue with mainland China. Their intention is that they
do not want to see Taiwan absent from the process of economic and
trade coordination in the Asia-Pacific region or being increasingly
marginalized. If Hsieh could influence Chen Shui-bian to push for
the resumption of cross-Strait dialogue, it will not only be
conducive for [the island's] economic growth but will also help to
improve Washington-Taipei ties.

"Fourth, over the past year, AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young has
said more than once in his lectures that he hopes to see both sides
of the Taiwan Strait start direct transportation, and he even linked
the direct transportation with the talks of U.S.-Taiwan Free Trade
Agreement. If Hsieh could urge Chen to conclude talks over
cross-Strait direct transportation, he could then ask Young to
fulfill his promise of starting talks between Taipei and Washington
over the Free Trade Agreement. ..."

4. U.S.-Japan Security Pact

"The Arms Bill and the US-Japan Alliance"

Shen Chieh, a U.S.-based freelance journalist, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (5/16):

"... The US and Japan employ a two-pronged strategic approach to
cope with China's rise: They use military deterrence coupled with
political and diplomatic means to influence China to move toward
positive, constructive development. The military deterrence has not
changed, but the diplomatic approach aimed at inducing China to play
a responsible international role shows changes in terms of rewards
and punishment. ... Nevertheless, diplomatic pressure alone is not
likely to transform China into a peaceful and responsible nation.
The US and Japan have therefore maintained strong military
deterrents to contain China, but Taiwan's long-stalled arms
procurement package has weakened its ability to defend itself.

"It was no coincidence that American Institute in Taiwan Director
Stephen Young voiced Washington's concerns over the arms bill after
the US-Japan meeting was over. The continued delay of the
arms-procurement bill in the legislature has caused the US to doubt
Taiwan's will to defend itself. The US is also concerned that
Taiwan may relinquish its own defense responsibility, which could
lead to a military imbalance and enhance risks for across the


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