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

VZCZCXYZ0051
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1443/01 1760718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 250718Z JUN 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5786
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6964
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8215

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001443

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage June 23-25 on KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou, who
announced Saturday his decision to select former premier Vincent
Siew as his running mate in next year's presidential election; on
the KMT party congress on Sunday; on President Chen Shui-bian's
remarks Friday that he will continue to push for a referendum on the
island's UN bid under the name "Taiwan," despite U.S. opposition;
and on a severe bus crash in Taipei Sunday evening. Both the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" and the pro-unification "United
Daily News" on June 24 front-paged the results of their latest
opinion surveys, which showed that the Ma-Siew ticket has greatly
boosted Ma's approval rating.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" urged both the ruling and
opposition parties to work together to push for the proposed
referendum on Taiwan's UN bid. A separate "Liberty Times" analysis
questioned the United States' opposition to Taiwan's UN bid and
asked why Washington lets China get whatever it wants. A "China
Times" analysis, however, said both Taiwan and the Taiwan people
will be the losers, given the fact that the Chen administration is
determined to play the game of offending the United States. An
editorial in the limited-circulation, conservative, pro-unification,
English-language "China Post" discussed Washington's policy of
"strategic ambiguity" and urged Washington to replace it with
strategic clarity. An op-ed in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," written by former
AIT chairman Nat Bellocchi, said, "[i]t seems that the US, which
would presumably not take sides between the political parties, would
bide its time to see which party prevails before the experts in the
State Department decide what to recommend to the new US government
next year." A separate "China Post" editorial discussed the
"U.S.-China Senior Dialogue" and said it indicated that "Washington
and Beijing, despite ideological differences, have gradually and
steadfastly strengthened their ties." End summary.

A) "Both Ruling and Opposition Parties Should Practice What They
Preach and Join Hands Together in Pushing for the Referendum on
[Taiwan's] UN Bid"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000]
editorialized (6/23):

"... Even though the ruling and opposition parties have different
views with regard to the 'name' [used for its UN bid] -- namely,
whether Taiwan should join the United Nations under the name
'Taiwan,' 'the Republic of China,' or 'any name that conforms to
Taiwan's dignity,' they have reached a consensus over the core
values of Taiwan's UN bid. As a result, in consideration of both
the internal and external environments, it seems viable that the
ruling and opposition parties put aside their disputes over 'name'
and the idea of 'confrontation with each other via referenda,' and
work together to push for the island's UN bid. They could at least
let the United Nations and the international community feel the
mainstream public opinion in Taiwan. In consideration of this, we
believe that the ruling and opposition parties should focus their
thinking on the issue starting from [the statement of] 'an
independent sovereign state composed by the 23 million Taiwan
people. ..."

B) "Allowing China to Make Repeated and Unrestricted Demands [on the
United States], What Is Washington Afraid of?"

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Tsou Jiing-wen noted in an analysis in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000] (6/23):

"Unless the Blue camp dares to infringe on the Taiwan people's
freedom to be their own masters, it is inevitable that a referendum
on Taiwan's UN bid will be held in tandem with next year's
presidential poll. Given this unavoidable trend of democracy, a
more important question that must be investigated is: What is the
United States afraid of? Why does it have to give China whatever it
wants? If one lays out all the statistical figures, one can hardly
find any reason why the United States should be afraid of China.
...

"Since it is unlikely [for Beijing] to restrain Pyongyang, and since
the issue on Iraq is gradually moving up from the nadir, why do the
egghead staff in the core authorities in Washington still let China
lead them around by the nose? One cannot help but wondering whether
it is because China's 'lobbying' is rising as well, and it has
offered 'generous' [benefits] so that the staff [in Washington] have
decided to accept whatever information China provides, and they can
no longer differentiate the U.S. interests from China's interests.
If the answer is no, then it must be because this generation of
U.S. officials in charge of East Asian affairs is so incompetent
that it cannot even play the easiest Taiwan card! No matter what
the truth is, what is certain is that the Taiwan people have already
acquired the necessary knowledge, and they will by no means let

another power determine their destiny. Taiwan's strategic position
is [important] in military, diplomatic, economic and political
aspects, and these bargaining chips can at least allow Taiwan to
choose its own path."

C) "Speaking in a Tone like That of the Boxers, Can [President Chen]
Really Lead Taiwan into the International Community?"

Journalist Lin Shu-ling wrote in an analysis in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (6/23):

"In order to manipulate the 'referendum on the island's UN bid under
the name Taiwan,' Chen has chosen to confront the United States; he
said what he has been doing is to [pave the road] for Taiwan's
future president, so that the next president will not fear the
United States or China. The question is: By doing so, will [Chen]
be able to lead Taiwan into the international community and break
the island's predicament of being marginalized? Or is Taiwan
getting the completely opposite result? ... Bian said, in a tone
like that of the 'Boxers,' that [Taiwan] must not be afraid of the
United States, but Taiwan needs th U.S. assistance in every way
ranging from the number of diplomatic allies it wants to maintain;
its participation in the international activities; and the transits
granted to its high-ranking officials. In particular, when it comes
to the U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement that can save the island's
trade and economics from the crisis of being marginalized,
Washington still said no to Taiwan, regardless how loud the Taiwan
government has been crying out for it.

"Taiwan needs the United States more than vice versa, and such an
extreme imbalance is a fact that no one can change. ... The Bian
administration is determined to play this game of offending the
United States. It is too early to tell whether the Green camp can
secure a victory [in the presidential election], but it is certain
that our country and the Taiwan people will both be the losers."


D) "The U.S. Strategic Ambiguity"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (6/25) :

"... But Washington's strategic ambiguity has been arbitrarily
interpreted in Taipei, as well as in Beijing. President Chen
Shui-bian regards Taiwan and China as two countries on opposite
sides of the Strait, or, in his own words, 'one country on each side
of the Strait.' He declared it as the status quo, which, of course,
is considered a unilateral move on the part of Taipei to change the
status quo. Beijing has deployed close to 1,000 cruise missiles,
all targeting Taiwan, and passed an Anti-Secession Law to codify an
automatic invasion of the island if independence is declared. China
has gotten away without an American censure. Well, Uncle Sam does
not want to specify what action it will take on the question of a
threat to use force against Taiwan, and has chosen to keep his mouth
shut.


"But Chen is ready to write a new constitution for Taiwan before he
steps down on May 20 next year. He does not think the adoption of
the Constitution is a unilateral move to change the status quo,
although it is considered a declaration of de jure independence,
which the United States certainly does not support. Washington has
to replace strategic ambiguity with strategic clarity and tell Chen
clearly that the United States opposes any step toward independence.
That may be the only way to deter Chinese aggression against
Taiwan."

E) "Should Taiwan Follow Singapore?"

Nat Bellocchi, former AIT chairman and now a special adviser to the
"Liberty Times Group," opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (6/24):

"... While China has greatly strengthened itself, the people of
Taiwan have become more 'Taiwanese.' Beijing will continue to
insist that Taiwan is part of China, and will continue to force the
issue. The US will find it increasingly difficult to pursue its
policies with China and Taiwan. It seems that the US, which would
presumably not take sides between the political parties, would bide
its time to see which party prevails before the experts in the State
Department decide what to recommend to the new US government next
year."

F) "Sino-U.S. Dialogue"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (6/23) :

"... In recent years, the United States and China, the world's sole
superpower and the world's fastest growing power respectively, have

established ongoing and regular dialogue to discuss often
contentious issues. This indicates that Washington and Beijing,
despite ideological differences, have gradually and steadfastly
strengthened their ties. ... For the mainland, the dialogue
provides an opportunity to cement ties with Washington -- Taiwan's
most important ally and supporter. For the United States, the
dialogue is useful for it to discuss matters for which it needs
China's help: Iran, North Korea and Darfur, for example. In either
case, Taiwan is marginalized."

YOUNG

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