Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Hong Kong Democracy
DE RUEHIN #0004/01 0021007
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021007Z JAN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7708
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7608
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8879
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000004
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, HONG KONG DEMOCRACY
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused January
1-2 news coverage on the island-wide celebrations for the New Year;
on President Chen Shui-bian's New Year's address; on the upcoming
legislative elections; and on the Blue camp's call on the voters to
boycott the two referenda to be held alongside the January
legislative elections by refusing to collect the referenda ballots.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed the decline of the
United States and the future prospects for Taipei-Washington
relations. Editorials in two English-language papers discussed a
recent declaration by Beijing that the Hong Kong people may be
allowed to directly elect their chief executive by 2017 and
lawmakers by 2020. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" said "the last thing Beijing wants
is to open the Pandora's box of democracy" for the Hong Kong people.
An editorial in the conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" said "Hong Kong would be a testing ground for political
reform on the mainland if the introduction of universal suffrage
works smoothly there." End summary.
3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations
"The Decline of the United States and Taiwan-U.S. Relations"
Barry Chen, visiting professor at the Beijing Union University's
Institute of Taiwan Studies, opined in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (1/1):
"... During the past few years when the United States was moving
downhill [i.e., in terms of its influence on the world], Taiwan,
with its on-going campaign for nativism, has only focused on
political infighting on the island but failed to pay attention to
global issues and the changes in the world. The most unbelievable
trend is that Taiwan has even started to challenge U.S. national
interests, which are most essential for Taiwan. ...
"Perhaps new opportunities and situations will appear in Taiwan if
this year's presidential election can be held smoothly. But after
the 'eight lost years [under the DPP's rule],' the new leader will
have to face three major problems: first, how to mend
Washington-Taipei relations and restore mutual trust between the
two; second, how to manage the phenomenon in which both sides of the
Taiwan Strait are cold in terms of politics but hot in terms of
economic exchange; and third, how to stop the deviation in Taiwan's
democratic development and return to normal democratic operations.
4. Hong Kong Democracy
A) "Hong Kong's Long Wait Continues"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (1/1):
"... The last thing Beijing wants is to open the Pandora's box of
democracy, as yielding in Hong Kong would surely lead to demands
from other provinces that, left unchecked, could spread across the
country. Beijing is terrified of democracy because it knows that it
is the one tool, short of civil war, that can threaten its hold on
power. The remark on Saturday, with Chief Executive Donald Tsang
waxing triumphantly, was probably meant to appease pro-democracy
groups in Hong Kong, whose position was bolstered by former top
official Anson Chan's win in the legislative elections last month.
This is the upside: Give democrats a little space, wiggle a carrot
and hope that this calms the masses. But the downside is that the
stick is near, always at the ready.
"It would be pure foolishness to take Beijing's declaration at face
value, which, sadly, is what many in the international community
will likely do. This is yet another sign, we can hear them saying,
that Beijing is becoming more "normal" and playing by rules
befitting a state that is integrating itself in the global scheme of
things. ... Democracy will remain just too dangerous a gift for the
Chinese government to bestow upon its people."
B) "Hong Kong Democracy Delayed"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (1/1):
" ... Known for its skepticism towards free, democratic elections,
Beijing is the only stumbling block to Hong Kong's democracy. Its
doubts have become a convenient excuse for allies in Hong Kong to
stick to their conservative viewpoints in order not to frighten the
'central authorities.' Their fears have in turn reinforced Beijing's
arguments. This cycle of skepticism has aggravated a feeling of
distrust and cynicism among the democrats and in some quarters of
society about the promise of the ultimate goal -- universal
suffrage. Hong Kong would be a testing ground for political reform
on the mainland if the introduction of universal suffrage works
smoothly there. ..."