Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations
DE RUEHIN #2381 2960745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230745Z OCT 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7209
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7382
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8662
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002381
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: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS
Summary: News coverage of Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies
October 23 focused on the indictment of lawmaker Gao Jyh-peng, who
is considered to be close to President Chen Shui-bian, for allegedly
accepting bribes; and on state-run financial institutions, which
were criticized for campaigning for the ruling DPP, including
providing funds to promote the bid for UN membership. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an editorial of the pro-independence
English-language "Taipei Times" said Taiwan is forced to find
asymmetrical or nonconventional means to counter China's threat, and
the economy may be China's Achilles' heel. End summary.
A) "Taiwan Must Fight Like a Flea"
The pro-independence English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (10/23):
"In his classic study of guerrilla warfare 'War of the Flea,' Robert
Taber compares the small, disadvantaged opponent in an armed
conflict to a flea, whose small, intractable nature can be turned
into an advantage against its enemy.
"As the military divide between China and Taiwan widens in China's
favor -- thanks, in part, to the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT)
efforts to block weapons development and acquisition -- Taiwanese
who are committed to defending the nation have had little choice but
to begin considering asymmetrical or nonconventional options. That
is, they have been forced to look at a potential war with China from
the flea's perspective.
"While much has been said in recent weeks about Taiwan's development
of the Hsiung Feng II-E cruise missile and -- for a brief,
hallucinatory moment -- nuclear weapons, ultimately these remain
part of an arsenal that, should war break out, stands little chance
of overwhelming Beijing's massive and widely distributed forces.
Even if, for a while, Taiwan could inflict punitive damage against
an invading People's Liberation Army (PLA), past experience shows
that massive casualties within PLA ranks does not deter Beijing.
"... Two traditional pillars of deterrence -- massive military
losses or threats against civilian populations (a reprehensible
option) -- are denied Taiwan. It must therefore find China's
Achilles' heel elsewhere.
"And that's its economy.
Enter the graphite, or 'blackout' bomb, a non-lethal weapon that can
knock out an enemy's power grid by short-circuiting it. Taiwan has
announced it could begin development of that weapon, which can be
dropped by aircraft or mounted onto cruise missiles such as the
Hsiung Feng. Whether that device will suffer the same fate as the
Hsiung Feng at the hands of the KMT remains to be seen, but its
introduction shows that a paradigm shift has occurred within the
nation's defense apparatus, which, by sheer virtue of its size and
the prevailing international context that favors China, is awakening
to the realization that it cannot hope to compete with China in
conventional military terms.
"Beyond the graphite bomb, Taiwan must explore other venues where
its technological advantage could be put to good use and continue to
identify other weaknesses in China's defenses, such as maritime
ports, industrial centers and command-and-control nodes.
"Beijing has made no secret of the fact that, aside from the very
survival of the Chinese Communist Party, the economy is paramount.
Many of its policies are formulated to ensure that economic growth
continues unhampered, even at a debilitating social or environmental
cost. It is therefore not difficult to imagine how Beijing could be
made to pause should a credible threat to its economy come from
"Taiwan has all it needs to mount a countervailing strategy based on
innovative technologies and an asymmetrical mindset to make Beijing
think twice before it attempts to take on the flea.
"The beauty of it is that Taiwan might not even have to kill people
to achieve its objectives."