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

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1452/01 1770840
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260840Z JUN 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5800
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6969
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8221

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001452

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

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to focus
news coverage June 26 on the 2008 presidential election; on the
arrest of a second suspect allegedly involving in a murder case in
May; and on the aftermath of a tour bus crash Sunday. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" commented on the
Chen Shui-bian administration's push for a referendum on the
island's bid to join the United Nations under the name "Taiwan."
The article urged Washington to "cherish Taiwan's democracy by
showing more support for Taiwan in the international arena." An
editorial in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" also chimed in by calling on the
United States and the international community to respond positively
to the calls by the Taiwan people to join the world community. End
summary.

A) "Fighting China's Diplomatic Warfare"

Liu Kuan-teh, a Taipei-based political commentator, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (6/26):

"While the administration of US President George W. Bush has
officially objected to the administration of President Chen
Shui-bian using the name 'Taiwan' to apply for UN membership this
year, calling it a move to unilaterally change the cross-strait
'status quo,' Washington seems to be overlooking measures by Beijing
to wage diplomatic warfare against Taiwan's participation in the
international arena. ...

"... In addition to his predecessor Peter Rodman's accusation that
China violated the 'status quo' last year, [US Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense Richard] Lawless is the first US official to

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confirm Beijing's military expansion has 'changed' the cross-strait
'status quo.' Not only have those two statements illustrated the
complicated nature of US-Taiwan relations, they have also
demonstrated an essential need for leaders of both Washington and
Taipei to engage in a more candid, cooperative and constructive
dialogue in the next nine months prior to Taiwan's presidential
election.

"Some analysts have emphasized that since the Bush administration is
preoccupied with North Korea and Iraq, Taiwan should remain quiet
and refrain from giving Beijing reasons to pressure the US over
Taiwan policy. But even if Taiwan plays the good kid, to what
extent has Washington successfully urged Beijing to give more space
to Taipei on the playground? Bush's recent speech in Prague earlier
this month serves as an example for Taipei and Washington to rethink
their bilateral relationship. ...

"If Bush and his administration are serious about this, they should
cherish Taiwan's democracy by showing more support for Taiwan in the
international arena. The Taiwanese government's attempts to
safeguard its sovereignty in the face of China's constant attempts
at international isolation and military intimidation should be
viewed as a model democracy counteracting authoritarian suppression.
Who more than Taiwan deserves the promise behind Bush's strategy of
'seeking and supporting the growth of democratic movements and
institutions in every nation?' The US-Taiwan relationship could
benefit from following such a strategy."

B) "U.N. Referendum Aims to Defend Taiwan's Status"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (6/26):

"We approve of the decision by the governing Democratic Progressive
Party to persist with its petition campaign for a national
referendum on whether Taiwan should apply to join the United Nations
despite the open demand issued last Tuesday by the U.S. State
Department for President Chen Shui-bian 'to exercise leadership by
rejecting such a proposed referendum.' As noted last week,
Washington's protest was an improper action for a country that touts
its commitment to democratic principles, especially since the U.S.
State Department was obviously mistaken about the nature of the
referendum drive. ...

"Indeed, Washington policy makers may not appreciate that the
referendum calling on the government to apply as 'Taiwan' for U.N.
entry is itself a relatively moderate option in that it does not
involve any declaration of a change in Taiwan's status or official
moniker, but only urges the U.N. membership to grant the people of
Taiwan their just representation in the U.N. in order to prevent the
erosion of Taiwan's actual autonomy and democracy, the protection of
which is of priceless value to the world community. ... Given
Beijing's opposition, such entry is obviously not likely to be
realized on the short term but a direct application buttressed with
a demonstration of overwhelming popular support in Taiwan would put
the issue on the international agenda and serve as a 'reality check'

for world powers (apparently including the Untied States) which
persist in turning a blind eye to the real state of affairs in the
Taiwan Strait.

"Moreover, if global powers including the U.S. refuse to take action
to curb the PRC's drive to 'legalize' its claim over Taiwan in the
international community, calls in Taiwan for a national referendum
on more fundamental questions will undoubtedly intensify. ...
Instead of blaming the victim of the PRC's expansionist ambition,
the U.S. and the rest of the international community should respond
to the calls by Taiwan's people and thus preserve both democracy and
peace in the Taiwan Strait."

YOUNG

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