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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Un Referendum, Taiwan's

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2241/01 2740849
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010849Z OCT 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6997
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7308
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8577

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002241

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: TAIWAN'S UN REFERENDUM, TAIWAN'S
SOVEREIGNTY STATUS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage September 29-October 1 on the DPP's controversial "normal
country resolution," which was subsequently passed during the
party's national congress Sunday, rejecting an amendment proposed by
outgoing Chairman Yu Shyi-kun; on the 2008 presidential election;
and on a university students who went missing in early July and were
found again last Friday.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" said that, despite the fact that
the recent souring of relations between Taiwan and the United States
over the Chen Shui-bian administration's push for a UN referendum is
not good in and of itself, it helps reduce the possibility of China
using force against Taiwan. Heritage Foundation Senior Research
Fellow John Tkacik opined in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times" that "now is the time for Taiwan to reeducate the
international community that the idea that Taiwan is an 'integral
part of the People's Republic of China' is, as the State Department
told the UN, 'not universally held by UN member states, including
the United States.'" End summary.

3. Taiwan's UN Referendum

"Taiwan and the United States Are on Bad Terms, but There Are
'Auspicious Signs' within the Gloomy Prospects"

Professor Lin Chong-pin from Tamkang University's Graduate Institute
of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, opined in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (10/1):

"... The United States, as [U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of
State] Thomas Christensen said, attaches great importance to
Taiwan's strategic position. But Taipei's failure to coordinate
with Washington before it started this eye-catching campaign to push
for its UN bid has disrupted the United States' plan and thus
annoyed Washington. The long-term significance of this matter is as
follows:

"First, Taiwan will become more isolated in terms of international
politics. Even though Taiwan's interaction with the world will not
be affected, and its military relationship with the United States
remains stable for the short term, Taiwan's elbow room in the
international community will only be further reduced, given
deteriorating Taiwan-U.S. relations. Taiwan's allies in Latin
America were mostly anti-Communist countries during the Cold War
era, and they have always followed the lead of the United States.
Once Washington turns the cold shoulder to Taiwan's political
leaders, these countries will unavoidably veer with the
circumstances, not to mention the fact that Beijing is trying very
hard to win them over to its side.

"Second, Beijing is the biggest winner. Taiwan used to be one of
the staunchest allies of the United States in East Asia, but its
political ties with the United States have started to cool down. ...
The fact that Taiwan and the United States are on bad terms has
resulted in one additional weakening strategic pillar in East Asia
for the United States. Moreover, the chances are getting smaller
for Beijing to use force against Taiwan. As the consequences of
Beijing's move to 'restrain Taiwan via the United States' remain to
be seen, there is no need for Beijing to attack Taiwan now. ... If
peace across the Taiwan Strait is considered a good prospect, then
one can say that there are at least 'some auspicious signs' when it
comes to the gloomy fact that Taiwan and the United States are on
bad terms politically."

4. Taiwan's Status

"Taiwan's Status Remains Unsettled"

John Tkacik, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation,
opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (10/1):

"... While it might not seem like it, this year marks a significant
move forward for Taiwan's international status. For the first time
in a quarter-century, the US Department of State was obliged to
reiterate its 'long standing' position that the US has 'not formally
recognized Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and [has] not made any
determination as to Taiwan's political status.' Formal recognition
or not, the US Code treats Taiwan as it does all other 'foreign
countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities.' For
US' legal purposes, at least, Taiwan is indeed a state. Moreover,
given that Taiwan possesses 'a permanent population; a defined
territory; government; and capacity to enter into relations with the
other states,' it meets the description of a 'state' under the 1933
Montevideo Convention (which the US ratified on June 29, 1934).

"This precise point -- that Taiwan is, de facto, a state in the

international community, despite the fact that the US does not
recognize de jure that Taiwan is independent -- was at the heart of
the State Department's alarmed demarche to the UN barely two months
ago. It now appears that the US government is finally returning to
its 'long-standing' position that Taiwan's sovereignty is
'unsettled.' ... Once Americans get into the habit of thinking of
Taiwan's 'sovereignty' as 'undetermined,' it is just a short
distance to the question: 'Who has sovereignty over Taiwan if not
the people of Taiwan?' Ultimately, the people of Taiwan must
determine their own future. But now is not the time for Taiwan to
leap into such a decision without careful preparation or without
close consultation with its most important friends. Now is the time
for Taiwan to reeducate the international community that the idea
that Taiwan is an 'integral part of the People's Republic of China'
is, as the State Department told the UN, 'not universally held by UN
member states, including the United States.'"

YOUNG

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