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

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1921/01 2340917
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220917Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6485
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7152
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8407

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001921

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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 gave extensive
coverage August 21 to a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 airliner,
which burst into flames shortly after landing at Okinawa's Naha
international airport Monday. Coverage also focused on the surge of
Taiwan's stock price index Monday; on the strong backlash from local
pig farmers over the Taiwan government's controversial decision on
the use of ractopamine in pork; and on the 2008 presidential
election.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" criticized the Taiwan
government's policy-making process with regard to the use of
ractopamine in pork. An editorial in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" urged the United States to establish formal and comprehensive
diplomatic relations with Taiwan, citing former U.S. ambassador to
the UN John Bolton's strong support for Taiwan and its UN bid. An
op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
discussed Taiwan's UN bid and said "the United States wants Taiwan
to take a step back to maintain the 'status quo.'" End summary.

A) "Why Don't [Taiwan's] Officials Set an Example by Eating U.S.
Pork?"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (8/20):

"... The latest thought [on the use of ractopamine in pork] was:
The use of ractopamine will be banned among local pig farmers but
allowed for imported pork; namely, U.S. pork containing the feed
additive is allowed to be imported to Taiwan, while the use of such
substance remains banned on the island. This decision is very
thought-provoking. First, it is a policy tailor-made exactly for
the U.S. pork. Didn't someone say previously that there was no
pressure from the United States? How come then a decision that is
favorable for the U.S. pork containing ractopamine has been
deliberately adopted while such a feed additive is 'banned locally'?
Besides, [such a decision] has yet opened a new market for
ractopamine. ...

"It is originally a very simple policy decision as to whether
ractopamine should be banned -- it should be banned as long as it is
harmful [to the people's health] and allowed to be used as long as
it is harmless. But even such a simple policy decision could be
manipulated by the government policy decision makers, who found it
difficult to resist the U.S. pressure on the one hand and reluctant
to lose the votes of the local pig farmers on the other, into such
an outrageous and ridiculous conclusion whereby the ban on
ractopamine is lifted for U.S. pork but not Taiwan's. Here is a
suggestion: If those officials who believe that U.S. pork is
harmless, why don't they set an example for the Taiwan people by
eating U.S. pork for three months!"

B) "The United States Should Establish Comprehensive Formal
Diplomatic Relations with Taiwan"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (8/18):

"... Despite all that, given Taiwan's democratic reforms and
transfer of political powers, the island's mainstream public opinion
has already taken shape. All that the Taiwan people desire now is
to maintain the status quo of Taiwan being an independent sovereign
state. The situation stated in the 'Shanghai Communique' that 'All
Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but
one China' was in reality one in which one side [of the Taiwan
Strait] was ruled by Chiang Kai-shek while the other side by Mao
Tse-tung -- neither had anything to do with Taiwan. As a result,

SIPDIS
the United States should naturally build upon such reality and
acknowledge that Taiwan is an independent sovereign state.

"Given the increasingly complicated interactions in the
international community over the recent years, the United States has
been constantly restrained by China when it comes to the
cross-Strait issue. The crux [of this problem] lies in the fact
that the United States has been adopting an ambiguous position with
regard to Taiwan's status as a sovereign state, and that it has
failed to puncture China's fictitious story and has thus made China
increasingly insatiable. Let's just imagine if, just as [former
U.S. ambassador to the UN] John Bolton advocated, the United States
establishes comprehensive and formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan and
Taiwan becomes a formal member of the UN, what position will Beijing
be in to allege that Taiwan is part of China? How daring will China
be to do all the saber-rattling against Taiwan? Will it not be
possible that the tension across the Taiwan Strait will be totally
removed? ..."

C) "Proposal, True or Not, Puts US in a Tough Spot"

Emerson Chang, director of the Department of International Studies

at Nanhua University, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (8/20):

"According to US media reports, China may try to solve the Taiwan
issue by asking the UN General Assembly to decide on the question of
Taiwan's sovereignty, an issue not dealt with in UN Resolution 2758.
President Chen Shui-bian has suddenly decided not to request
permission to transit through the US, clearly in hopes that
Washington will attempt to stop China's proposal. This may be an
overestimate of US influence in the UN. It is also difficult to
decide whether the reports are true, and we cannot rule out a US
attempt to control Taiwan through the UN in order to make up for
China's failed attempt to control it through Washington. ...

"The fact that US media suddenly reported that the US government is
worried China will submit a proposal to the General Assembly stating
that Taiwan is part of the PRC, while a hesitant US is unwilling to
accept Ban's decision and to clarify where it stands, raises three
questions: Who leaked the news? To what purpose? Will it actually
happen? Taiwan tends to believe that the US has found out about
China's plan, but by not trying to find the underlying reason, the
US will risk hurting cross-strait relations, risk forcing Taiwan
independence, risk provoking hostility toward the US and risk
admitting that Taiwan's sovereignty remains unresolved. Other
issues may also arise due to attempts to change the 'status quo.'
... Regardless of whether the reports are true or made up by the
US, the US wants Taiwan to take a step back to maintain the 'status
quo.' If Taipei won't compromise and China decides to move ahead,
the US -- although willing to help Taiwan -- may not be able to
guarantee that the decision will be beneficial to Taiwan."

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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