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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, South Korean

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2630/01 3540751
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200751Z DEC 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7643
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7573
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8844

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002630

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.-TAIWAN RELATIONS, SOUTH KOREAN
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 20 on Lee Myung-bak's victory in South Korea's
presidential election Wednesday; on Taiwan's Central Election
Commission's insistence on the "one-step" voting format for the 2008
legislative election; and on the controversial organic law of
Taiwan's National Communications Commission. The centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" ran a banner headline on page five that
said "The United States Opposes the UN Referendum; [U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza] Rice Is Reportedly to Go into Action to
Pressure [Taiwan]."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" alleged that State
Department officials "seem to have made another secret deal with
China to limit and control democracy and freedom of Taiwan." The
article also criticized U.S. policy on Taiwan and China as being
"vacuous, vague and vapid." With regard to South Korea's
presidential elections, an editorial in the pro-unification "United
Daily News" discussed the enlightenment of such an election for
Taiwan. A commentary in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" also
discussed "dirty tricks" in the South Korean presidential election.
A "China Times" op-ed commented on the result of the South Korean
presidential election, saying the conservative influence in South
Korea has revived. End summary.

3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

"Those Underhanded Secret Deals"

Jerome Keating, a Taiwan-based writer, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (12/20):

"The more they protest, the more time and verbiage they expend and
the more they insist that they respect Taiwan's democracy, the more
obvious it becomes. The US State Department, its officials and
henchmen seem to have made another secret deal with China to limit
and control the democracy and freedom of Taiwan. ... Any rational
person must wonder at the overkill, concern and effort to clarify ad
nauseam that the US cares deeply about Taiwan's democracy -- except
that it doesn't want Taiwan to practice it. The issue is Taiwan's UN
referendum, a referendum that everyone agrees will have no binding
power or consequence. So why all the effort? Shades of US secretary
of state Henry Kissinger, the sellout king par excellence: Has the
US made another secret deal with China and let China define the
terms? ...

"Can anyone clearly state what the US is obligated to do regarding
Taiwan and the 'status quo'? Can anyone clearly state what China is
obligated to do regarding Taiwan and the 'status quo'? The burden
only falls on Taiwan and evidence shows that this burden comes from
a secret deal that Taiwan was not privy to. US policy on Taiwan and
China is vacuous, vague and vapid. It has purposely been kept this
way for more than half a century so that no one can clearly define
the US' obligations. China, on the other hand, has always insisted
that it has no obligations except the right to declare war when it
feels offended and that it can move the goal posts that determine
what offends it when it so pleases. That so much effort has been
expended over such minutiae as Taiwan's UN referendum can only point
to one thing: a secret deal with China in which the US contains
Taiwan in the ways and minutiae that China wants Taiwan contained.
...

"Burghardt's message ended with the words that new leaders present a
new opportunity to solve problems on important issues. He did not
want Chen to cause problems for his successor. It is no wonder that
the US shows favoritism for wishy-washy KMT presidential candidate
Ma Ying-jeou, who is also China's favorite in the upcoming
elections. However, the US is also going to have a new leadership
soon. Will its new president be bound by the secret deals of the
past? Will he or she have a new opportunity to solve problems and
deal with the important issues of the Taiwan Strait in a new way?
Will we even see some new faces in the State Department?"

4. South Korean Presidential Election

A) "Incompetent Ruling Party Falls from Power -- the Enlightenment
of South Korea's Presidential Election for Taiwan"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (12/20):

"Despite the joint suppression launched by South Korean President
Roh Moo-hyun and other rivals prior to the election, Lee Myung-bak
still won a landslide victory Wednesday. This result conveyed a
clear message: the people of South Korea have decided
wholeheartedly to remove its incompetent ruling party, and no tricks
or moves could shake their determination. ...
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


"Under such circumstances, the indifferent atmosphere which
prevailed during the campaigns, however, indicated a special kind of
calm. The fact that Roh Moo-hyun, who has a law degree, was removed
and replaced by Lee, who used to be a 'manager,' reflects two
psychological changes in South Korean society. First, the obsession
with 'regionalism' that has dominated South Korea's politics for
years has greatly declined following transfers of power over the
past decade. Second, the [South Korean] people's expectations for
politics have transformed from a strong belief in symbols and
ideology to the practical pursuit of economic development and
livelihood. This phenomenon of 'abatement in the political fever'
is an essential process for the maturation of democracy. ..."

B) "Dirty Political Tricks in South Korea"

Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (12/20):

"In the history of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak is the first elected
president who has the background of an entrepreneur. His election
signifies that the Korean people of the new generation have grown
tired of confrontational politics. Even though Lee won a landslide
victory in the presidential election, he is still required to be
probed by special prosecutors in his capacity as president-elect.
This is an unprecedented situation in Seoul's constitutional
history, so it is expected that South Korea's political situation
will stay chaotic in the [near] future. ..."

C) "South Korea Again Calls Back Conservatism"

Tsai Zheng-jia, an assistant research fellow at the Institute of

SIPDIS
International Relations of National Chengchi University, opined in
the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
(12/20):

"... From the political science point of view in interpreting [the
result of the South Korean presidential election], the election of
opposition Grand National Party candidate Lee Myung-bak represents
the second change of government in South Korea. South Korea has
come out of the infant stage of democracy and has formally become a
mature democratic country. From the economic point of view, the
election of Lee Myung-bak, a former Hyundai CEO, also represents the
landslide victory of the "influence of industrialization." South
Korea formally steps into [the ranks of] industrialized countries.
..."

YOUNG

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