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Cablegate: President Chen Raises Fta, F-16s, and Referenda

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OO RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #0037/01 0091018
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091018Z JAN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7762
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7636
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 9154
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 9392
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 2310
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 0777
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 8904
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI PRIORITY 1593
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG PRIORITY 6280
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 000037

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV TW
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT CHEN RAISES FTA, F-16S, AND REFERENDA
WITH CODEL ORTIZ/CHABOT


1. (SBU) Summary. President Chen Shui-bian urged visiting
Congressmen Steve Chabot and Solomon Ortiz to support a Free
Trade Agreement (FTA) with Taiwan and, pointing to the
missile build-up across the Taiwan Strait, the sale of F-16
C/D fighters. He insisted to the congressmen that the UN
referendum would not change the cross-Strait status quo or
break his four-no's pledge. End Summary.

"Welcome Home"
--------------

2. (SBU) Taking a break from his legislative election
campaigning, President Chen Shui-bian met January 9 with
Congressmen Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Solomon Ortiz
(D-Texas). Dr. C. T. Lee, a neurosurgeon from Cincinnati and
former Chairman of the Formosan Association for Public
Affairs (FAPA), accompanied the congressmen to the meeting
with President Chen. AIT Director Stephen Young also
attended. Chen apologized for the early hour -- 8:00 a.m. --
explaining that he is spending all his time these days
campaigning for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates
in Saturday's Legislative Yuan (LY) election. The early
hour, he said, is an indication of how much Taiwan values the
congressmen's friendship.

3. (SBU) President Chen welcomed the two congressmen as "old
friends" and "brothers" of Taiwan. Noting that Ortiz had
visited Taiwan at least forty times, Chen said "welcome
home." He warmly recalled House Taiwan Caucus Co-Chairman
Chabot's last visit to Taiwan in February 2007 and his public
calls for the U.S. to review its one-China policy, which
Chabot "rightly said is out of date."

4. (SBU) Chen expressed appreciation for the congressmen's
support for legislation and resolutions in support of Taiwan,
particularly a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Taiwan
participation in WHO. He also expressed gratitude for their
understanding of his action on the National Unification
Council and Guidelines in February 2006 and for their support
of Taiwan's efforts to join the UN. Chen praised the two
congressmen for facilitating cooperation between the U.S. and
Taiwan, noting that their efforts have given strength and
courage to the Taiwan people.

Three Requests: FTA, F-16's, and Referenda
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) President Chen told the congressmen that the number
of PRC missiles aimed at Taiwan increased from 988 last year
to 1328, a figure based on consultation with the U.S., he
said. This "astonishing increase" of 440 missiles in one
year represents a direct threat to Taiwan security and to the
stability of the Taiwan Strait. Chen said his administration
had worked hard to pass the long-stalled three major military
procurement projects (note: P-3C surveillance aircraft, PAC-3
missiles, and diesel electric submarines). These weapon
systems have now been funded by the 2007 and 2008 defense
budgets, with an additional amount to purchase F-16 C/D
fighter jets. Chen expressed his deep appreciation for
congressional support of Taiwan's F-16 purchase request and
his hope that the U.S. Government will agree to this request
under its Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) commitment and, thus,
help Taiwan fill the defense void caused by its aging jet
fighters.

6. (SBU) Chen then requested the two congressmen's support
for a U.S.-Taiwan FTA. As one of the most important U.S.
trade partners, he argued, Taiwan deserves serious
consideration for an FTA, which would be mutually beneficial
to both sides.

7. (SBU) Finally, President Chen expressed appreciation for
U.S. support of Taiwan's democratization, one expression of
which, he said, is the national referendum. Noting that the
first two referenda were held in conjunction with the March
2004 presidential election, Chen explained that four

TAIPEI 00000037 002 OF 002


referenda would be held in conjunction with the January 12 LY
and March 22 presidential elections. Unfortunately, there
are two political parties in the world that oppose the
referenda -- one in Taiwan, the opposition Nationalist Party
(KMT), and one in China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
It is to be expected that the CCP would oppose any
referendum, he said, but KMT opposition is a cause for
regret, because referenda are a democratic expression of the
will of the 23 million people on Taiwan. The UN referenda,
he assured the congressmen, will not change the cross-Strait
status quo or break his four-no's pledge, but will only
advance Taiwan democracy.

Congressmen on Taiwan: F-16, FTA, IPR
--------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Congressman Ortiz stressed the enormous progress
Taiwan has experienced since his first visit in 1983.
Taiwan, then under martial law, has since blossomed into full
democracy, with Taiwan, just like the U.S., facing
presidential elections. Noting that theirs was a bipartisan
CODEL, Ortiz praised the work of Congressman Chabot, one of
the House Taiwan Caucus Co-Chairs, in maintaining U.S.-Taiwan
friendship. Co-Chair Sherrod Brown, he explained, had been
unable to join the CODEL this time because of the approaching
Nevada primary. Both congressmen stressed that Taiwan has
many friends in the U.S. The fact that the Taiwan Caucus is
one of the largest and most active caucuses, Ortiz continued,
is indicative of U.S. friendship for Taiwan. Foreign policy,
however, he added, "we leave to the Administration."

9. (SBU) Congressman Ortiz commended passage of the military
procurement package and told Chen that he and Chabot will
take Chen's message on F-16's to Congress and discuss with
their colleagues. F-16s are important for Taiwan's defense,
Ortiz said, and he pledged to work with Chabot on this issue.
They will also take back the FTA issue for discussion, but
noted FTA's are a very controversial issue in Congress. Both
congressmen stated their support for an FTA, with Ortiz
stating that Taiwan should get an FTA "at some time." Chabot
commended Taiwan for its efforts to deal with IPR and piracy,
which, while not perfect, are a big improvement showing that
Taiwan is headed in the right direction. Finally, Ortiz
agreed with Chen that referenda are an important tool of
democracy and that people should be able to speak out. This
makes Taiwan very different from China across the Taiwan
Strait.

10. (SBU) Congressmen Ortiz and Chabot did not have an
opportunity to clear this report.
YOUNG

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