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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Secretary Rice's Statement On Taiwan's Un

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2648/01 3610908
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270908Z DEC 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7673
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7586
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8857

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002648

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: SECRETARY RICE'S STATEMENT ON TAIWAN'S UN
BID REFERENDUM


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 27 on Taiwan's Central Election Commission (CEC)'s
retreat from insistence on the "one-step" voting format at the
upcoming legislative election; and on the alleged vote-buying cases
in various legislative precincts. Taiwan's Ministry of Education's
decision in putting a frame around the statue of Chiang Kai-shek in
the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (formerly known as the Chiang
Kai-shek Memorial Hall) received half-page coverage in both the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" and the pro-unification "United
Daily News."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed article by
former DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" described the U.S. opposition to Taiwan's UN bid referendum
as yielding to China's pressure. An op-ed article in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" said the U.S. is already a
player, rather than a spectator, in the cross-Strait game after its
recent series of comments on the referendum. Commentary by the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" noted that repairing U.S.-Taiwan
relations will be the first priority for Taiwan's next president. A
news analysis in "China Times" suggested that the U.S. is no longer
interested in Chen Shui-bian's thinking and words. End Summary.

A) "Searching for the Founding Spirit of the U.S."

Former Chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party Yu
Shyi-kun, who is also the leading signer of the petition for a
referendum on joining the UN under the name of "Taiwan," wrote in
the pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation 720,000] (12/23):

"... I must say the U.S. opposition to Taiwan's referendum on the UN
bid is shirking responsibility because the U.S. is incapable of
dealing with the rise of China and the imbalance in the Asia-Pacific
region. From the viewpoint of the Taiwan people, this is nothing
but the U.S. yielding to China's pressure while ignoring the
Taiwan's right to survive.

"... I want to tell our American friends, there is no return for
Taiwan's democracy! Taiwan has been one of the most supportive
countries of the U.S. The U.S. should be careful not to create one
more anti-American nation in Asia just because of a temporary
misjudgment. ..."

B) "The U.S. Exit Mechanism: U.S.-China Co-Management"

Professor Philip Y. M. Yang, Department of Political Science,
National Taiwan University, commented in the pro-unification "United
Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (12/24):

"If the UN bid referendum is approved, its two worst effects will be
(1) on Taiwan and (2) on cross-Strait relations. The internal
effect will be that Taiwan becomes more fundamentalist. Supporters
can claim that Taiwan independence advocacy has won legitimacy by a
majority vote. New waves of populism will surge with regard to
sovereignty and identity issues. Taiwan will be seen as a trouble
maker in East Asia and become a fundamentalist player in the
region.

"... The serial U.S. criticism means the U.S. is already a player,
not just a spectator. The U.S. has joined the game in the hope to
influence the result of the UN bid referendum. If the U.S. is
already in, then what is its 'exit mechanism'? Should the
referendum be passed and the cross-Strait confrontation worsens,
will the U.S. stay in the game and send aircraft carriers again? Or
does Taiwan need to take care of itself? This, of course, depends
on how the actual situation develops and changes. However, Rice's
warning revealed a message.

"... If Beijing indicates that it does not intend to occupy Taiwan
but to vanquish Taiwan in the political arena, then the U.S. exit
mechanism may well be very clear: since the U.S. crisis management
measures have failed to change the fundamentalist inclination of
Taiwan, as long as Taiwan remains autonomous, and U.S. foreign
relations, and military and democratic interests will not be
seriously harmed, co-management by the U.S. and China of the
cross-Strait situation will become more definite."

C) "No Need to Take Over the Mess"

A commentary by the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 400,000] said (12/24):

"In order to deal with the aftermath of the UN bid referendum, no
matter who is next elected as president, his first priority must be
to try to repair U.S.-Taiwan relations. That is, to make new
promises on cross-Strait relations.

"With lessons learned from Chen Shui-bian, it is expected that
BID REFERENDUM

Washington is certain to ask Taiwan's new president for open pledges
that are more concrete and more difficult to break. Unfortunately,
the new president, who has tried hard to break away from Chen
Shui-bian's shackles, will then get new chains from Washington and
even Beijing. This will hurt not only Taiwan's dignity, but also
our common interest.

"... In fact, things can be less complicated. As long as we
disregard the false logic set by Chen Shui-bian and think about
whether this referendum event is necessary or effective; then decide
whether to take the referendum ballots and how to cast them, the
answer will be very clear. If so, the people and the new president
of Taiwan will not need to pay the high, but entirely unnecessary,
price for clearing up the mess."

D) "Rice Remarks Are Like a Two-edged Sword. It's Hard to Tell
Whether the Turnout Rate Will Be Reduced"

Journalist Chiang Hui-chen wrote in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] (12/23):

"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attacked Taiwan's UN bid
referendum as provocative. It has brought about polarized
responses: the opposition party is worried while the ruling party
secretly feels good. The phenomenon is really paradoxical and

SIPDIS
ironic.

"... However, Rice's remarks fully reflect the fact that the
Americans no longer want to hear or care about Chen Shui-bian's
thinking or words. The Bush administration, bogged down by
international diplomatic issues starting four years ago, cannot
spare any efforts to deal with the irresolvable cross-Strait
turmoil. The stepping up of U.S. criticism indicates that the U.S.
has no intention to open the door of communication for the rest of
Bian's term. During this period, U.S.-Taiwan interactions will be
an unprecedented period of [the U.S. making] frank remarks."

WANG

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