Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Un Referendum, U.S.-Taiwan


DE RUEHIN #0104/01 0220843
R 220843Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage January 19-22 on the various steps taken by the DPP to
review and remedy itself in the wake of its severe defeat in the
January 12 legislative elections; on the KMT's selection of its
nominee for the new deputy legislative speaker; and on the March
presidential election. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an
editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News" slammed
President Chen Shui-bian for manipulating the elections by
"bundling" them with referenda. The article said the UN referendum
in March will be viewed again by most voters as a no-confidence vote
against Chen. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News," on the other hand, criticized the
United States for blindly subordinating its foreign policy to
Beijing and pressuring the DPP government not to create any trouble
for Washington. The article concluded by saying that "A U.S.
administration that puts appeasement of the demands of authoritarian
states over the preservation of genuinely democratic allies has
little legitimacy to claim true global leadership." End summary.

2. Taiwan's UN Referendum

"Are [We] Still Going to Eat the Spoiled Rice Called 'UN

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (1/19):

"... Referenda have become a pot of spoiled rice following the
January 12 legislative elections, which were held simultaneously
with two referenda. But it is not over yet; there are referenda on
Taiwan's bid to 'join and re-join the UN,' which will be held in
tandem with the March 22 presidential election. Chen Shui-bian, as
usual, will spend hundreds of millions in government funds to bring
this pot of spoiled rice to the Taiwan people, regardless of whether
we like it or not or have the appetite for it or not. But is this
spot of spoiled rice still edible?

"The UN referendum will not get [Taiwan] into the UN; Chen already
said that nothing will happen [in the wake of the referendum]. The
UN referendum will not change [the Republic of China] into the
'nation of Taiwan'; Frank Hsieh said everything will be back to
square one [after the UN referendum]. The UN referendum has done
serious damage to mutual trust between Taipei and Washington, and it
has torn Taiwan society apart. As described above, the UN
referendum will again tolerate Chen and allow him to violate the
Constitution, the law, and his [vow to] stay administratively
neutral, and it will allow him to strip the [Taiwan people] ... of
their dignity. In addition, it is already predictable that the UN
referendum will fail to pass, just like the two referenda held on
January 12. Referenda are such a holy practice, but Chen has
brought them down to such a state! Most voters will continue to
regard the DPP's UN referendum on March 22 as a no-confidence vote
against Chen. ..."

3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

"Washington Lacks Legitimacy in Policy on Taiwan"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (1/22):

"... In recent years, the Democratic Progressive Party government of
President Chen Shui-bian has been censured and sanctioned by the
Republican administration of U.S. President George W. Bush for
undertaking initiatives to deepen and defend our democracy,
including advocating constitutional reforms, instituting and holding
referenda and proposing to join the United Nations. After an
initially supportive stance toward Taiwan's democracy, the Bush
administration has gradually subordinated its foreign policy to that
of Beijing's by acting in the PRC's stead to pressure the DPP
government to 'not make trouble' for Washington as it conducts its
'war on terror' or its war against Iraq, regardless of Taiwan's own
interests and problems.

"Hence, Washington has evidently never considered the feelings of
Taiwan citizens when it metes out humiliating treatment to the
democratically elected Taiwan president in transit stops or engages
in direct and open criticism of democratic processes, such as the
scheduled U.N. referendum. The latest example of U.S. blindness was
displayed by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte
during a visit to Beijing January 18, when he continued to criticize
the DPP-initiated referendum on applying for U.N. membership under
the name of Taiwan. ...

"Moreover, Negroponte's statement shows that Washington has also
failed to realize that parameters of Taiwan's political and security
situation have changed dramatically in the wake of the January 12
Legislative Yuan elections, in which the KMT snared an overwhelming

three-fourths majority. Negroponte and U.S. policy makers who share
his view seem blind to the implications of the very real prospect
that the KMT may be able to re-establish its former one-party
monopoly rule, and that the KMT's restoration will tilt Taiwan's
political and economic policy framework in the PRC's direction and
perhaps even accelerate 'ultimate unification.' ...

"U.S. officials should ask themselves whether they will be worried
by the restoration to monopoly power of an openly 'China-centric'
party which may well be inclined to 'lean to one side' in favor of
the PRC in the case of disagreements between Washington and Beijing.
They should also consider what kind of message their appeasement of
the restoration of a former authoritarian party, along with [that
party's] service to Beijing in suppressing Taiwan's democratic
progress, will send to the world, including democracy activists in
Hong Kong or China itself.

"A U.S. administration that puts appeasement of the demands of
authoritarian states over the preservation of genuinely democratic
allies has little legitimacy to claim true global leadership. We can
only hope that the American people will seek to rebuild their
country's reputation as a defender of democracy, freedom, justice
and responsibility under a new U.S. president, and that the revival
of American moral courage will not come too late to save a
democratic Taiwan."


© Scoop Media

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