Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1891/01 2320908
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200908Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6441
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7140
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8394
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001891
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS
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 August 18-20 on Typhoon Sepat, which hit Taiwan Saturday
morning and caused severe damage to Taiwan's agriculture; on the
Taiwan government's controversial decision on the use of ractopamine
in pork; on the 2008 Taiwan presidential election; and on the U.S.
sub-prime lending crisis and its impact on Taiwan's stock market.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" discussed the calls for signing a
free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Taiwan.
The article criticized the U.S. executive branch and its officials
stationed in Taiwan for bowing to China's pressure regarding
Taiwan's UN referendum and failing to act proactively to push for
the signing of the U.S.-Taiwan FTA. The "Liberty Talk" column in
the "Liberty Times" also implicitly criticized AIT Director Stephen
Young for apologizing for the sub-prime lending crisis only, but not
for the U.S. opposition to Taiwan's holding a UN referendum nor for
Washington's decision to allow President Chen Shui-bian to transit
in Alaska only [Note: the "apology" for the sub-prime lending
crisis was not a part of the Director's 8/16 speech to which the
newspaper attributed the "apology."] An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" discussed former
U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton's recent trip to Taiwan, in
which he voiced his strong support for Taiwan's UN bid. An
editorial in the conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" also discussed President Chen Shui-bian's upcoming
transit stops in Alaska to and from Central America. The article
said Washington's decision to allow Chen to stop over in Anchorage
only was aimed at expressing the U.S. frustration with Chen's
"insistence on changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait." End
A) "Respond Proactively to the Calls for Liberalization of
Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Economics"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"Almost on the same day, voices were heard in both the United States
and Taiwan calling for the two countries to sign a free trade
agreement (FTA). Despite the fact that the U.S. government has yet
to make an official response regarding this issue, the efforts to
push for economic liberalization, including the signing of FTAs with
the island's trade partners, remains an important subject for Taiwan
in its pursuit of economic prosperity. ... Heritage Foundation
senior research fellow John Tkacik, Jr., however, holds a different
view from that of the U.S. officials in Taiwan. He said in an
article published on August 15 the U.S.-Taiwan FTA has been stalled
for too long and that for its own interests, the United States
should sign an FTA with Taiwan as early as possible. ...
"Discourses and analyses similar to that of Tkacik could also be
found in the U.S. private sector over the past few years, and the
U.S. Congress has also voiced support for the realization of the
FTA. But the fact that the U.S. executive branch and AIT have not
been acting proactively enough, plus China's obstruction, have
resulted in stagnation on the signing of a U.S.-Taiwan FTA. [An
FTA] is an important objective that the office in charge of Taiwan's
trade talks should strive to achieve. In fact, the U.S. executive
branch has bowed to China's pressure with regard to political issues
such as Taiwan's holding a referendum on its UN bid, opposing the
Taiwan people's expression of their free will. All the more, it has
become an accomplice encouraging the international community to
impose political apartheid on Taiwan. Officials in the U.S.
executive branch, including those stationed in Taiwan, advocate that
Taiwan expand economic opening to China. They have overlooked the
fact that Taiwan's economics and trade have been seriously tilted
toward China, and they have disregarded China's obvious scheme to
annex Taiwan. The Taiwan people cannot help but wonder whether the
United States has ever practiced what it preaches when it said it
wants to promote freedom and democracy to the world. ..."
B) "Is Stephen Young's Apology Enough?"
The "Liberty Talk" column in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 720,000] stated (8/20):
"AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young recently apologized to Taiwan -
not for the U.S. opposition to Taiwan's holding a UN referendum, nor
for [Washington's] decision to allow President Chen Shui-bian to
transit in Alaska only, a move which has 'indirectly humiliated the
dignity of all the Taiwan people' - but for the sub-prime lending
crisis in the United States, which has resulted in a plunge of the
Taiwan stock price index, causing severe losses for the Taiwan stock
"If this [sub-prime lending crisis] is simply a natural phenomenon
of capitalism, it would not seem necessary for Young to apologize.
But Young knows very clearly that it is not a natural disaster, but
a man-made crisis created by the Americans. ... As a result, when
the Americans cannot afford to pay for their sub-prime loans, those
who cannot sleep at night are not the American bankers or Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke but the investment companies and stock
holders of other countries. ... Young said he was sorry, but can
that make up for the losses of the Taiwan people?"
C) "When China Is Taiwan's Friend"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (8/18):
"The trip to Taiwan by former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton
shows there are at least a few people in the upper tiers of
Washington who are prepared to speak in support of Taiwan and to act
on their words by visiting and affording respect to the office of
Taiwanese president. So, more strength to him and those like him.
But Bolton knows, as much as any informed friend or foe of Taiwan,
that Taiwan's bid to join the UN is about the performance, not the
result. When conclusions are foregone, sometimes there is hay to be
made from the ritual of failure. Regrettably, all too often this
hay is left in the barn, so to speak, by diplomats who simply do not
know how to communicate with Washington's jumpier officials. ...
"... China has threatened to introduce a motion to the UN to affirm
that Taiwan is a province of the People's Republic of China, an
action that would be as strategically inept as any that Beijing has
come up with in recent years. And this come just as many begin to
wake up to Beijing's attitude toward the rest of the world: If you
have what we want, then we can be friends; if you dare cast light on
our atrocities and neglect, then we can not. If Beijing is stupid
enough to up-end the 'status quo' that pro-China forces in the US
use to keep Taiwan in line, it will find little joy. ... China's
problem lies in the majority that remains. Most countries have been
happy to follow along with China's blustering and demagoguery
because most of it has seemed to be hot air. Humor Beijing a little
and keeps things calm, so the reasoning goes, and economic benefits
will be there for everyone.
"But in demanding that this pragmatism turn into support for a
symbolic statement that would authorize Chinese violence, Beijing
will likely discover that many countries - possibly most - will be
less tolerant. The result: a humiliating majority of abstentions
and a number of 'no' votes sprinkled among them, and a severe blow
to the credibility of China's claim to Taiwan both at home and
abroad. Advocates of Taiwanese independence must be salivating at
the thought of it: an international repudiation of Beijing's
imperial agenda sparked by China's own stupidity. Some in China
must realize that there is this risk, and the whole affair may
quietly disappear. But it remains tempting to say to China, and to
its UN cheer squad: Bring it on, you oafs. Do your worst."
D) "Chen Makes Another Voyage"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (8/20):
" ... However, the U.S. government has been careful to choose the
places where Taiwan leaders may transit, and the place chosen for
the transit stops has been interpreted to reflect the current state
of ties between Taipei and Washington. At present, it appears that
Alaska has been chosen to express Washington's frustration with
President Chen's insistence on changing the status quo in the Taiwan
Strait. Despite repeated protests and warnings from Washington,
President Chen has pressed on with his plan to hold a referendum on
our government's efforts to rejoin the United Nations under the name
'Taiwan.' It is clear that Washington is displeased with this
policy and is making Chen stop in a faraway place in order to
demonstrate its displeasure.
"By refusing to get off his aircraft, President Chen is trying to
make the same kind of protest that [former] President Lee made many
years ago. However, unlike President Lee's actions more than a
decade ago, we believe President Chen's protest is likely to fall on
deaf ears in Washington. After all, the U.S. government is no
longer refusing to let Taiwan's democratically elected leader
transit in American territory. Instead, Washington is merely
retaliating against President Chen for his repeated efforts to break
down the status quo in a highly sensitive region of the world. ...
Unlike in the past, when U.S. public opinion was deeply impressed by
our democracy, these days our American friends are likely to say
'suit yourself' when President Chen refuses to step out of his