Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #0271/01 0580916
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270916Z FEB 08 ZDK
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8213
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7866
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9127
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000271
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.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage February 27 on the island's March presidential poll and the
UN referenda; on a Taiwan policy report recently released by former
U.S. officials Randall Schriver and Dan Blumenthal; on Taiwan's
officials being barred from attending South Korea's presidential
inauguration because of pressure from China; on soaring domestic
prices; and on the Ministry of Economic Affairs' decision to sell a
U.S.-based aircraft company, thus incurring losses amounting to
US$388 million. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner
headline on page four that read "Randall Schriver Calling on Bian,
Hsieh and Ma; Bian Hopes Taiwan and the United States Will Establish
2+2 Dialogue Mechanism."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial echoed the report recently released by former U.S.
officials Schriver and Blumenthal and emphasized that
Washington-Taipei ties should not be placed under the U.S.-China
framework. A separate "Liberty Times" op-ed also chimed in, saying
the report has pointed out that Washington's Taiwan policy has
created unfavorable results for the United States. An op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" written by a
western writer based in Taiwan questioned the mindset of these U.S.
"pundits." The article asked whether "these experts really care
about a democratic Taiwan, or is their penultimate goal rather the
containment of China to ensure that ... no power ever manages to
rival U.S. hegemony." End summary.
A) "U.S.-Taiwan Relations Should Not Be Placed under the U.S.-China
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"The 'Taiwan Policy Working Group,' formed by many former U.S.
officials and specialists, has recently released its first Taiwan
policy report both in the United States and Taiwan. This report did
not challenge the United States' current one-China policy, but it
did make three recommendations that were noteworthy: First, it
Washington to remove its restrictions on high-level interaction
between the United States and Taiwan. Second, it suggested that the
United States take the lead in establishing a values-based
multi-lateral organization in Asia, in which Taiwan is included as a
member. Third, [it suggested that] U.S.-Taiwan relations have their
own agenda and not be placed under the U.S.-China framework. ...
"The U.S. government's restrictions on contacts between U.S. and
Taiwan high-ranking officials are not only a move that overlooks the
national dignity of democratic Taiwan but are also often a source of
friction during the communications between the two sides. For
example, Taiwan's referenda on its UN membership are the fundamental
human rights of the Taiwan people and a natural result of the
operations of Taiwan's democracy. Unfortunately, as a result of the
lack of high-level dialogue, the U.S. government misunderstood such
a move by Taiwan and has repeatedly expressed its opposition or lack
of support for it. China, which constantly suppresses and attempts
to annex Taiwan, instead has benefited from [the U.S. opposition]
without any effort or cost. It is evident that the recommendation
made by the 'Taiwan Policy Working Group' was truly insightful.
"In addition, Taiwan's participation in international organizations
and contributions to international affairs make it a definite
creator of benefits to the international community. ... But China
is the constant factor that hinders Taiwan's interest in joining
international organizations. If the United States turns a blind eye
[to China's obstruction] and allows Taiwan to be permanently
rejected by international or regional organizations, it would be
akin to denying the international community the chance [to be
benefited by Taiwan]. It is thus essential for the U.S. government
to change its mind by judging from values and assisting Taiwan to
play a part in international affairs.
"Moreover, China has asserted again and again that its rise is
peaceful, but in reality it has been proactively working to
strengthen its military buildup in the absence of any external
threat. In addition to annexing Taiwan, China also has the evil
ambition to become a regional hegemon and further pursue the
position of being an international power. One can say that China's
hostility toward Taiwan is just the tip of the iceberg of its
threats to world peace. Given such a circumstance, the U.S.-Taiwan
relations can by no means be placed under the U.S.-China framework.
Or else, China will definitely take advantage of U.S. needs in terms
of international issues and will impose pressure on Washington to do
things that will harm Washington-Taipei ties. Such a development is
by no means good news for the United States' strategic interests in
the Western Pacific. ..."
B) "The United States Re-discovers Taiwan -- Comment on the
'Twenty-First Century Agenda for the U.S.-Taiwan Relationship'"
Lai I-chung, member of the executive board of the Taiwan Thinktank,
opined in the pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
"... It is worth mentioning that this report has particularly
pointed out the effects of the practice adopted by the United
States over the past few years, in which Washington chose to work
with China in handling the Asian issues -- namely, 'it imposed
pressure on Taipei to prevent it from making moves that would be
perceived by Beijing as provocative. Taipei, as a result, has been
regarded as a trouble or a provoker, not a successful partner.'
This indicates that the reason that Taiwan is regarded by the United
States as a problem is not necessarily related to Taiwan's behavior;
it is also related to the United States' China policy framework.
"Because [Washington] fails to look at Taiwan as a positive factor
but rather as a negative factor between Washington-Beijing ties,
Washington tends to impose punishments and sanctions against Taipei
in the face of the uncertainty created by Taiwan's democracy, the
report said. ... This report has pointed out that the U.S. policy
toward Taiwan has created unfavorable results for the United States
and, as a result, it also pinpoints the mainstream myth in Taiwan
when discussing the island's political situation -- namely, that
everything will be OK once the island has a new ruling party. ..."
C) "But Are They Really Friends of Taiwan?"
J. Michael Cole, a writer based in Taipei, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"Time and again, a handful of individuals in US academia have
accused the Bush administration of either abandoning Taiwan or not
doing enough to protect it. Again last week, the same pundits issued
a report, "Strengthening Freedom in Asia: A Twenty-First Century
Agenda for the US-Taiwan Partnership," that at first glance seemed
to indicate that Taiwan has friends in high places. But are they
really friends? Is the 'freedom' they refer to the universal human
right, or is it instead the word cynically used by the Bush
administration to justify wars in the Middle East and elsewhere? To
put it differently, do these experts really care about a democratic
Taiwan, or is their penultimate goal rather the containment of China
to ensure that, as envisioned by Paul Wolfowitz in 1992, no power
ever manages to rival U.S. hegemony?
"For the most part, these 'defenders' of Taiwan are hawks at think
tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Heritage
Foundation, the Project for a New American Century and Armitage
International. One thing these organizations have in common is their
intimate ties to the US defense establishment. In their view,
international security is best served through further militarization
-- greater investment in weapons, more reliance on force to solve
problems and preemptive military action. All, furthermore, tend to
ridicule the UN and have served as proponents of a 'Pax Americana.'
"These hawks do not really care about democracy; what matters to
them, rather, is preserving U.S. hegemony. If that means supporting
Taiwan as a hedge -- or an 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' -- against
China, so be it. But it is hard to imagine these same experts
clamoring for Taiwan's democracy absent a China that, at some point
in the future, could threaten US primacy. AEI and its kind are
nothing more than poster boys for the U.S. arms industry and the
hardliners who seek to contain China. To them, Taiwan provides a
convenient cover. Nothing more. ... Until left-leaning think tanks
add their voices to the chorus and come to Taiwan's assistance for
principles that are truly based on a belief in the value of
democracy, hawks in China and experts the world over will have good
reason to doubt that US voices pretending to care for Taiwan are not
doing this for cynical, if not more obscure, reasons."