Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #0014 0040516
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040516Z JAN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7723
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7615
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8886
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000014
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
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused January 4
news coverage on KMT presidential Ma Ying-jeou's suit against the
prosecutor who indicted him for corruption; on Brazilian
authorities' unexpected cessation of issuance of visas to tourists
from Taiwan; the upcoming legislative election; and on the rise of
oil and commodity prices. In terms of editorials and commentaries,
an editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" criticized the United States opposition to Taiwan's UN
referendum and asked the United States to respect the Taiwan
people's will and Taiwan's democratic development.
"Enough Muddle-Headed Warnings"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (1/4):
"... The decision [about KMT boycotts of the two referenda to be
held along with the legislative election on January 12] came just a
few weeks after KMT vice presidential candidate Vincent Siew
allegedly told American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond
Burghardt that the KMT was insisting on the two-step voting process
to frustrate the DPP-initiated referendum on entering the UN using
the name 'Taiwan.'
"It would be interesting to know if Burghardt's conversations with
any of the KMT officials he met during his visit touched on the
subject of a boycott, as any decision to shun the UN plebiscite in
March would certainly fall in line with Washington's very public
opposition to the process. ...
"... In a September speech to the US-Taiwan Business Council, Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Thomas Christensen accused President Chen Shui-bian of using the
referendum to 'charge Taiwan's name' and 'risk the security
interests of the Taiwan people for short term political gain.' ...
"Perhaps Christensen could have been asked to suggest which
political party in the democratic world does not attempt to
influence public opinion to further its ambitions. The Republicans
certainly did so when it made the case for the invasion of Iraq.
"... Even now it is not clear if US strategists are banking on
economic reform leading to democratic reform in China and a peaceful
settlement in the Taiwan Strait. But even if this is the case, it
is not going to happen anytime soon. Hard-headed officials must
therefore understand that Taiwan's status cannot remain in limbo
indefinitely if China issues threats every few months and continues
to pack its coastline with ordnance.
"Taiwanese are not stupid; indeed, they are reliably pragmatic.
Poll after poll has shown that the overwhelming majority are not
interested in making dramatic ideological gambits in the cause of
independence or unification.
"So, if Washington believes that this thing called 'democracy' has
value outside the US, then it should show respect to Taiwanese by
desisting with patronizing language and partisan doomsaying. Voters
of goodwill are putting up with enough cynical, anti-democratic
behavior from the KMT without having to factor in muddle-headed
warnings from Washington."