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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Foreign Relations, Un Referendum

VZCZCXYZ0014
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0081/01 0170602
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170602Z JAN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7920
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7743
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9003

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000081

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: TAIWAN'S FOREIGN RELATIONS, UN REFERENDUM

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage January 16 on the soaring of Taiwan's stock index and
currency markets Tuesday in the wake of the KMT's victory in last
Saturday's legislative elections; on KMT presidential candidate Ma
Ying-jeou, who unveiled his cross-Strait policy agenda Tuesday; on
the March presidential poll; and on Taiwan's difficult foreign
relations. The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" front-paged a banner
headline that said "Ma Ying-jeou's New Three Noes Policy: No
Unification, No Independence, and No Use of Force." The centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times," on the other hand, ran a banner headline
on page four that read "Frank Hsieh: Will Inactively Exercise
Presidential Power if Elected."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" discussed China's relentless
diplomatic battles against Taiwan. The article urged both the
ruling and opposition parties jointly to safeguard Taiwan's status
as an independent sovereign entity. A "China Times" editorial,
however, criticized President Chen Shui-bian's manipulation of
Taiwan's foreign relations in a short-term trading style, which has
unfortunately enlarged Taiwan's distance from international
organizations. A separate "Liberty Times" analysis discussed
Taiwan's UN referendum in the wake of the Blue camp's victory in
last Saturday's elections. The article said the challenge for the
KMT presented by the referenda to join or re-join the UN is not over
yet. End summary.

3. Taiwan's Foreign Relations

A) "Both Ruling and Opposition Parties Must Have a Cross-Party
Consensus Regarding the Safeguarding of Taiwan's Sovereignty"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000]
editorialized (1/16):

"... The fact that China remains relentless in terms of its
diplomatic battles against Taiwan [even] in the wake of the KMT's
victory in the legislative elections is akin to conveying a clear
message, namely, even if the KMT becomes the sole majority in the
legislative body, and even if Ma Ying-jeou wins the presidency,
China will continue its predetermined strategy to lure away all of
Taiwan's diplomatic allies. ...

"Both the ruling and opposition parties, which have just concluded
their campaigning [for the legislative elections], will have to take
these diplomatic challenges seriously. It is Taiwan's mainstream
public opinion to maintain the island's status as an independent
sovereign entity. As Taiwan's ruling party, the DPP must not ignore
the importance of its foreign policies just because it has recently
been defeated in the elections. Particularly, it must not
misinterpret the reasons for its defeat and back down from the
diplomatic frontline. The KMT, on the other hand, has obtained a
three-fourths majority influence in the new legislature, and it
surely is obliged to make efforts to safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty
in the near future. Even just for the sake of safeguarding the
Republic of China, the KMT must vigorously resist China's
[continuous] attempts to press Taiwan. ..."

B) "Shouldn't [the Taiwan Government] Review the Short-term Trading
Operations of Its Foreign Policy?"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (1/16):

"... Using trade and economics as bargaining chips can only secure
relations with small countries, but the sympathy and support of big
countries constitute another important pillar for Taiwan's survival.
Yet Taiwan was more badly harmed in this respect. In order to
secure [the DPP's] victory in the elections, Chen Shui-bian turned
the Taiwan people's simple wish of being accepted by the
international community into a tool for his own political gain. He
unscrupulously manipulated the [political agenda of] unification and
independence and referenda, totally disregarding their [possible]
costs to Taipei-Washington [relations]. As a result, the United
States no longer trusts the Taiwan government; it even made moves to
restrain Taiwan's diplomatic efforts. The international community,
at the same time, has also seen through Chen's tricks and poured
cold water on Taiwan. Taiwan's national interests were thus harmed
for no particular reason, and the island's distance from the UN and
the WHO is getting even wider. ..."

4. UN Referendum

"The Referenda to Join or Re-join the UN -- the Unbearable Heaviness
for the Blue Camp"

Washington correspondent Nadia Tsao noted in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000] (1/16):

"Even though the U.S. government declined to say it clearly, most
U.S. scholars who have been monitoring cross-Strait situation for a
long time pointed out that in the wake of the KMT's landslide
victory in [last Saturday's] legislative elections, the pressure
caused by [the DPP-proposed] UN referendum has greatly eased both
for Washington and Beijing. This is because the DPP will hardly be
able to retain its authority to dictate policies, even if the
referendum passes [in March]. But for the KMT, which has just
scored a victory, the tests presented by the referenda to join or
re-join the UN are not over yet! ...

"Taiwan's bid to join the UN is an ongoing, high-consensus foreign
policy for the island. Should the KMT decide to mobilize Taiwan
voters not to pick up their ballots for the two referenda, one of
the possible scenarios will be that the DPP-proposed UN referendum
is passed while [the KMT-proposed] referendum [for Taiwan] to rejoin
the UN fails to pass. [Should this happen,] not only will it
manifest the fact that the KMT lacks sincerity toward the referendum
system, but also that the KMT will have to implement the DPP's
policy if it wins the presidential elections. On the other hand, if
both referenda fail to pass, is [the Taiwan government] going to
shelve its UN bid that has been pushed by the government since the
Lee Teng-hui Administration? Will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs'
UN membership task force based in New York have to be dissolved?

"Even though the chances are slim for Taiwan to become a UN member
in the short term, [the government's] diplomatic efforts over the
past decades have made the UN member states realize Taiwan's
position as an independent sovereign entity; certain connections and
talented foreign service personnel have also been cultivated.
Malawi's recent decision to switch diplomatic recognition from
Taipei to Beijing also proved that China is taking full advantage of
the UN stage to lure away Taiwan's diplomatic allies. What kind of
a message will be sent to the international community and Taiwan's
foreign service officers then if the two referenda on Taiwan's bid
to join or re-join the UN, respectively, both fail to pass? ..."

YOUNG

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