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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1227/01 1550927
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040927Z JUN 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5475
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6859
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8110

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001227

SIPDIS

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DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - DAVID FIRESTEIN
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage June 2-4 on U.S. law enforcement's announcement Sunday of
its having foiled an alleged terrorist plot to bomb the JFK Airport;
and on the year-end legislative elections and the 2008 presidential
election. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" and its sister
paper, the English-language "Taipei Times," both ran an exclusive
news story June 4 that quoted an ex-chief of staff to former
Secretary of State Colin Powell as telling "Esquire" magazine that

SIPDIS
hawkish U.S. officials had encouraged President Chen Shui-bian's
administration to move toward a declaration of independence.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed President Chen's video
conference with the National Press Club last week. The article said
Washington has decided to put aside the Taiwan card for the time
being, because it does not want to mislead Taiwan and thus
unexpectedly accelerate the deterioration of U.S.-China ties. A
"Liberty Times" commentary commented on the Pentagon's recent report
on Chinese military power and urged Taiwan to continue pushing for
the nation's normalization process now, before China has the
capability to attack Taiwan. An editorial in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed the American Chamber of
Commerce's (AmCham) annual white paper on Taiwan and urged the DPP
administration to listen to AmCham's warning. End summary.

3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

A) "Taiwan Talking about Human Rights -- a Headache for the United
States"

Emerson Chang, director of the Department of International Studies
at Nan Hua University, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (6/4):

"... First, the United States' upholding democracy and human rights
is primarily for its national interests rather than on moral
grounds. ... It may sound right for Taiwan when Chen Shui-bian
emphasized human rights [during his video conference with the
journalists in Washington]. But for the United States, such a move
likely violates the U.S. national interests and was thus difficult
to win the United States' recognition. ... Second, the United States
defines Taiwan's development of the ground-to-ground missiles as of
an offensive nature. [Such a position] was reflected in AIT
Director Stephen Young's remarks made in early May, and it is
closely related to Taiwan's call for maintaining flexibility with
regard to its options for [the island's] future. ...

"... [E]ven though chances are slim for China-U.S. relations to
improve in the short term because of the shortage of positive
conclusions from the China-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue and from
[the Pentagon's] report on Chinese military power, Washington still
decided to put aside the Taiwan card for the time being so as not to
mislead Taiwan and unexpectedly accelerate the deterioration of
China-U.S. ties. This is the main reason behind the current impasse
in Taiwan-U.S. relations, despite the fact that Taiwan is now in a
favorable position in the triangular relationship (meaning that both
China and the United States are now engaged in strong competition
with each other in economic, military and strategic aspects.)"

B) "A Nation's Normalization Must Not Be Deterred by the Use of
Force"

Cao Changqing, China-born freelance journalist based in U.S., noted
in the "Weekly Commentary" of the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 500,000] (6/3):

"The 'Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2007' report
released by the Pentagon a week ago indicated that China is rapidly
expanding its military power, and its capability of threatening its
neighboring countries is on the rise. On the other hand, however,
China is facing various factors of instability inside the country.
Taiwan and other Asian countries ought to keep alert but need not
feel panic about it. The report also clearly indicated that, as of
now, the People's Liberation Army does not have the capability to
attack Taiwan, particularly in the case of U.S. intervention.

"China's growing military buildup alone is likely to cripple the
United States' influence in Asia, and it will directly threaten the
United States' democratic ideals and its strategic interests in the
entire Asia-Pacific area if China uses force against Taiwan. Thus
the U.S. military has a fundamental internal consensus over [the
U.S.] intervention in the conflicts across the Taiwan Strait. ...

"While the internal and external situations both fail to help, China
is naturally incapable of using force against Taiwan; all it can do
is to threaten and coerce [the island]. But this does not mean that
Taiwan can lower its guard and therefore does not need to purchase
any weapons. In reality, Taiwan needs to possess powerful defense
capabilities, no matter under what kind of situation, so that it has

the power to resist in case of attacks, and it can demonstrate the
island's determination and strength to defend itself in an attempt
to discourage Beijing. In the meantime, Taiwan should also
proactively strive to push for the normalization of the nation,
making it a reality before China has sufficient military power to
attack Taiwan. This is a difficult but completely plausible
process, and the key lies in the Green camp's confidence and
determination."

C) "[Like a] Dog Barking at the Train Each Year, What Else Can
[Americans] Do?"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (6/4):

"... The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) said in its annual
white paper that Taiwan will be in big trouble as early as next year
if it fails to ease its restrictions on cross-Strait exchanges and
trade. Such [a position] is nearly consistent with the warning
given by AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young in May, in which he said
that the slower Taiwan opens the three links, 'the bigger the risks
are [for the island] to be isolated from the trend of regional
integration.' All these have indicated that the United States has
held deep apprehension over the trend of Taiwan being gradually
marginalized. Despite the business interests of U.S. firms, for the
United States, a Taiwan that is isolated from the international
political system can remain functioning. But it will bode ill if
Taiwan is gradually isolated also by the international economic
system. ...

"This paper has reminded more than once regarding the timetable for
economic integration in East Asia in 2008 and 2012. But
unfortunately, the ruling party not only does not care about it but
has also sought to isolate itself from this megatrend. Whoever
attaches great importance to this topic will be labeled as
pro-unification. ... The fact that foreign chambers of commerce are
willing to write a white paper each year indicated that they value
[Taiwan] and still want to stay here. It will be too late [for
Taiwan] to argue what should be done or what should not be done if
someday these foreigners do not feel like publishing an annual
paper!"

YOUNG

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