Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #2653/01 3620730
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280730Z DEC 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7679
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7588
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8859
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002653
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
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
December 28 news coverage on the assassination of Pakistan's former
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and on the expected second verdict of
former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou's special allowance case. In terms
of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification English-language "China Post" predicted several
steps that President Chen Shui-bian might take to pursue Taiwan
independence. A commentary on the op-ed page of the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" criticized the
United States for bowing to China and opposing Taiwan's proposed
referendum on applying for UN membership. End summary.
A) "Predictions of Developments in Taiwan Independence"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (12/28):
"... Rice's statement represented the strongest U.S. stand against
Taiwan independence made by one of the highest Washington officials.
But, such a verbal denunciation, just as so many made by other
high-ranking U.S. officials before, appears to have little effect on
President Chen's determination to push for Taiwan [to be] completely
independent of mainland China. On the contrary, President Chen and
his followers feel very secure with Rice's emphasis on American
opposition to the use of force by the PRC to solve the Taiwan
problem, plus the guarantee of U.S. help under the Taiwan Relations
Act to defend the island should war break out in the Taiwan Strait.
"As legislative and presidential elections draw near, it is
understandable that Chen must quicken the pace in pursuing the goal
of independence to cater to 'deep green' voters for his personal
benefit, as well as that of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party
(DPP). He also realizes that Washington is basically sympathetic to
an independent Taiwan because it fits in with its global strategy
and that Beijing is currently busy preparing for the Olympic Games
and the World Exposition, and hence cannot devote much time and
resources to tackling the Taiwan issue. In other words, in the
present world situation, the two giant powers will likely exercise
the utmost restraint in dealing with Taiwan independence activities.
"On the part of Taipei, it must do its best to avoid being perceived
as achieving the objective of making Taiwan a full-fledged state.
In fact, Taipei can obstinately insist that even when it does
declare independence, it is still not 'de jure independence' if it
is not formally recognized by the international community. It
remains to be seen whether China and the U.S. will be so tolerant as
to accept this kind of interpretation.
"The Chen administration will be emboldened (particularly when the
referendum passes) to pursue independence. It may seek to preserve
the name of the Republic of China (ROC) only in the document of the
Constitution, to allow the DPP to back its claim that it does not
change the status quo because the official name of the country
remains unchanged. Except for that, the ROC will literally
disappear everywhere in Taiwan, just as it did on all the trappings
in the presidential square on Double Ten National Day, making
everyone ask which country's birthday was being celebrated.
Recently, Chen has been frequently called the 'Taiwan president,'
and some foreign heads of state even addressed him the 'president of
the Republic of Taiwan.' When traveling abroad, Chen prefers to be
called 'Taiwan president' even when the countries he is visiting
formally recognize the ROC. ...
"... All indications are that Frank Hsieh, the DPP presidential
candidate, is toeing President Chen's line on the question of Taiwan
independence out of fear of losing 20 to 30 percent of the deep
green votes. The U.S., as the world's strongest country and the
most important ally of Taiwan, will be judged by history as
responsible for its conniving and over-protective policy that has
the effect of encouraging and misleading the island into a
disastrous cross-strait military conflict over the independence
B) "Why Is the US Backing the Chinese on Taiwan?"
Lin Chia, an independent commentator, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"... The real reason the US is calling the UN referendum provocative
is that the legitimacy of the referendum leaves them with no means
to reject its outcome. Hence, the referendum has nothing to do with
"... The reason Taiwan has long been on the side of the US is that
the two countries share common values and interests. If US
politicians want to be Chinese mouthpieces on all kinds of issues
and put pressure on Taiwan, then the Taiwanese and the Americans
will have fewer shared values and interests. The US is going too
far in transmitting China's edicts.
"Washington's behavior might even make Taiwanese wonder if it is, in
fact, US politicians who are trying to keep Taiwanese from deciding
their own future in order to profit from the dispute and reap
benefits from both sides.
"By causing this misunderstanding among Taiwanese, US politicians
have hurt the Taiwanese public's faith in their country. The result
is that Taiwanese are being gradually pushed toward China.
"This is a tragedy for Taiwan and it is also damaging to US
interests and democracy around the world.
"This is perhaps also China's ultimate motive for placing pressure
on the US to make Taiwan obedient."