Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1718/01 2130901
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010901Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6218
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7086
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8334
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001718
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD
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 August 1 on KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's
special mayoral fund case; on the corruption case of the Kaohsiung
MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) project, in which three former
Kaohsiung City Government officials under then-Kaohsiung Mayor Frank
Hsieh were acquitted, while the other two were sentenced to four and
twelve years, respectively; and on rising oil prices.
Interestingly, given the political polarization of most Taiwan
newspapers, both Ma's case and the Kaohsiung MRT case involving
Frank Hsieh were juxtaposed in most papers either on the front page
or on the first few pages. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
ran a banner headline on page four that said "Frank Hsieh: after
Being Elected, Name Change and Writing a New Constitution [Will Be
Completed] within Five Years." The pro-independence "Liberty
Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation daily, ran an exclusive news
story with a banner headline saying "DPP's Draft Resolution on
Normalizing the Nation; Taiwan's Name Will Be Rectified."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial criticized the United States for constantly suppressing
Taiwan's moves to maintain its sovereignty while lacking proactive
measures to counter China's military intimidation against the
island. A column in the pro-unification "United Daily News"
questioned whether DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh will be as
mercurial as President Chen Shui-bian. End summary.
A) "How Can Taiwan Not Write a New Constitution and Change Its Name
As Soon As Possible?"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"Sources said a U.S. State Department official said the Taiwan
government's attempt to apply for membership for the United Nations
using the name Taiwan seems to be inconsistent with President Chen's
pledge not to change the island's national title. Following such
logic, it would seem as if Taiwan originally had a national title
widely acknowledged in the world, and that this national title was
not Taiwan. Consequently, the attempt to use Taiwan as the island's
name appears designated to change the national title. ... Now,
hardly any major country in the world acknowledges that the Republic
of China is the national name of a sovereign country. ... Take the
United States for example: the U.S. government, which calls the
island Taiwan all the time, criticized us for changing our national
name - an attempt [according to Washington] suspected of
unilaterally altering the status quo across the Taiwan Strait - once
it heard we address ourselves as Taiwan. But didn't the U.S.
Congress address us as Taiwan when it adopted the 'Taiwan Relations
Act'? Was ROC or any other national title used in that law? ...
"Ever since 2000, the U.S. government has been frequently chanting
the 'incantation crown' of 'Four Nos' to Taiwan [Editorial note:
this is a literary allusion to "Journey to the West," in which the
Monkey King Sun Wukong wore a crown on his head that the Buddhist
monk Xuan Zang could tighten painfully by chanting an incantation.
He used this crown to keep the mischievous monkey under control.]
and suppressing every one of Taiwan's moves to maintain its
sovereignty. But in the meantime, it has never taken any proactive
action to counter China's military intimidation, economic
united-front tactics, or the 'three guang' diplomatic strategy
against Taiwan [i.e., Chinese policies aimed at removing all of
Taiwan's diplomatic allies, blocking all of Taiwan's international
channels and crushing its entire international presence]. The fact
that the cross-Strait situation in recent years has been gradually
tipping toward China is related to such an attitude of the U.S.
government in one way or another.
"The U.S. government seems to have forgotten that there is a very
important prerequisite for the 'Four Nos' pledged by President Chen
-- namely, as long as China has no intention of using force against
Taiwan. [Washington's] disregard for the prerequisite while talking
only about the 'Four Nos' is a misinterpretation of Taiwan's pledge
to peace. No wonder China is getting more and more arrogant.
"Based on this experience, Frank Hsieh asserted during his recent
trip to the United States that, given Taiwan's current independent
status, there is no need [for the island] to hold an independence
referendum. Such an unconditional promise seems rather rash and
hasty in that we have unilaterally abandoned our handy and effective
tool - the independence referendum - while both Washington and
Beijing have yet to acknowledge Taiwan's already independent status.
In the future, the U.S. government will only request that [Taiwan]
adhere to this 'new one No' pledge, as it did to the 'Four Nos,' and
say that it is 'inappropriate to acknowledge' that Taiwan is an
independent sovereign state. Honestly speaking, [Hsieh's pledge] is
unfavorable for maintaining Taiwan's sovereignty.
"Given Taiwan's rapid progress in democratic reforms over the past
decade, [Taiwan's] 23 million people have become increasingly eager
in their desire for the normalization of their country. It is a
pity that, even given Taiwan's evident mainstream public opinion
calling for the country's normalization, the U.S. government has
more than once said it 'does not support Taiwan's bid to join
international organizations for which statehood is a requirement.'
Perhaps this position adopted by the U.S. government is based on its
national interests and global strategy. But in the eyes of the 23
million people [of Taiwan], it is akin to sacrificing democratic
Taiwan in an attempt to curry favor with totalitarian China, a move
that has damaged the U.S. position as a world leader of democratic
B) "Tai Chi Politics"
Journalist Chang You-sheng wrote in the "United Notes" column in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (8/1):
"... AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt must have though of something
before he addressed Frank Hsieh as a 'Tai Chi expert.' High-ranking
U.S. officials spoke frankly that the referendum on joining the
United Nations is not in the interests of the Taiwan people, and
that the referendum violates President A-bian's pledges. Hsieh's
response was that although he has his own idea on certain policies,
he cannot do anything because he does not hold a government position
now and it is therefore inappropriate for him to express his
viewpoints. This is of course an answer that beats around the bush.
"For a person as smart as Hsieh, how can he not comprehend the
overtones of those superior Americans [lit. American big brothers]?
Frank Hsieh knew well that his remarks would arouse backlash from
the pro-independence faction, but he nonetheless chose to announce
at an international press conference that he will not push for a
referendum on independence. This has become Hsieh's first major
pledge to the United States. Will Hsieh go against his word, as
A-bian does? Time will tell. However, the 'One No' pledge has
proved that 'Tai Chi politics' still has its limits."