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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Un Referendum, National Defense

VZCZCXYZ5155
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0291 0640943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040943Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8249
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7884
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9143

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000291

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 UN REFERENDUM, NATIONAL DEFENSE


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage March 4 on the upcoming presidential poll, on the two
presidential candidates' campaign platforms on cross-Strait issues,
and on the Environmental Protection Administration's decision Monday
to approve conditionally the construction of a controversial
freeway. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" devoted its entire
page two to reporting on the behind-the-scenes stories concerning
the establishment of the island's first-ever controversial arms
dealing company "Taiwan Goal."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" urged the public not to pick up
referendum ballots on March 22 in order to "punish" President Chen
Shui-bian. An editorial in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times" discussed the "Taiwan Goal" arms dealing company,
which will soon be disbanded. The article said by "closing the door
on new possibilities for weapons development and acquisition, the
KMT has revealed an inability to move beyond the unhealthy reliance
on the U.S. as a patron for the nation's defenses, which also
imposes a needless financial burden on the taxpayer." End summary.


3. Taiwan's UN Referenda

"To Punish Chen Shui-bian, Say No to the Referendum Ballots!"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (3/4):

"... The opposition to the [DPP-proposed] 'UN referendum' is
precisely a 'no-confidence vote' cast by most voters to Chen
Shui-bian and the DPP. Chen said '[the public] should support the
UN referendum, even if they dislike Chen Shui-bian.' But for most
people, their thinking is: 'We oppose the UN referendum because
[we] dislike Chen Shui-bian!' ...

"What makes the people even more bitterly disappointed is that Chen
even called out in public that 'it is fine that [voters] do not vote
for Hsieh to be the president, but they must support the UN
referendum.' Chen's statement is akin to saying that 'it is fine if
Hsieh loses the presidential election, but Chen Shui-bian's UN
referendum has to win.' It is a widely acknowledged fact that the
'UN referendum' was originally leverage that Chen planned to use to
put the presidential election and the political situation following
the election on a short leash. As for the outward appearance [of
the UN referendum], Chen chose to wrap it up in the political jingle
of 'bundling the referendum with the presidential election to
solicit support for Frank Hsieh.' Now that Hsieh's candidacy seems
to be faring badly, Chen did not prop up Hsieh by either de-linking
the referendum and the presidential poll or 'cancelling' the
referendum; instead, he was selfish enough to say such things
as,'Hsieh can lose the race, but my referendum must pass.' Simply
because of this, and to punish the ruthless Chen, there is no point
in the Taiwan people supporting the 'UN referendum.' ..."

4. Taiwan's National Defense

"The KMT Is Killing National Defense"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (3/4):

"The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has struck again. After years
of successfully blocking arms appropriation bills in the
legislature, the party has now managed to shoot down, before it
could even take off, a venture that could have been of tremendous
benefit to the nation's ability to defend itself. ... Taiwan Goal,
while no panacea, would have been a step in the right direction, and
unlike what some critics have argued, it would have tapped into the
nation's world-class private technology industries -- with or
without help from the government.

"By shutting it down and by opposing a deterrence strategy, the KMT
has demonstrated a total ignorance of what the cost of a Chinese
invasion would be for Taiwan. By closing the door on new
possibilities for weapons development and acquisition, the KMT has
revealed an inability to move beyond the unhealthy reliance on the
US as a patron for the nation's defenses, which also imposes a
needless financial burden on the taxpayer. Such an approach to
defense could only have been dreamed up by a party that does not
believe that China would resort to force to settle cross-Strait
tensions. But as we saw from the manner in which Taipei's envoys to
Seoul were treated last week -- a delegation that included
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the KMT -- the pan-blue camp
has a rare talent for misreading Beijing's intentions."

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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