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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Pentagon's Report On Chinese Military

VZCZCXYZ0265
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0311/01 0660744
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060744Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8279
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7890
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9147

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000311

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: PENTAGON'S REPORT ON CHINESE MILITARY
GROWTH, TAIWAN'S UN REFERENDA

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused March 6
news coverage on the upcoming presidential poll and the UN
referenda; on the government's Wednesday announcement of incentive
measures to encourage overseas Taiwan businesses to return capital
to Taiwan; on the island's consumer price hike, and on the U.S.
primaries. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in
the pro-independence "Liberty Times" discussed the Pentagon's
recently released report on Chinese military growth and urged the
voters to pay attention to China's increasing military threat to
Taiwan. An op-ed in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" focused
on a news report that Washington and Beijing will sit down and work
together on drafting the military strength report for the next year.
The article said the move will be a perfect opportunity for the
United States to test whether China is willing to enhance its
information transparency. A "Liberty Times" op-ed, on the other
hand, discussed Kosovo's recent declaration of independence and said
Taiwan should learn from Kosovo and vote to pass its UN referenda.
End summary.

2. Pentagon's Report on Chinese Military Growth

A) "How Can the Ruling and Opposition Parties Turn a Blind Eye to
Severe Chinese Military Threats against Taiwan?"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (3/6):

"During the lead-up to the presidential election this year, China
has yet to launch any verbal attacks or saber-rattling against
Taiwan, and it seems at first glance that there are hardly any
ripples across the Taiwan Strait for now. However, a U.S. Defense
Department report on Chinese military strength released recently
indicated that as of November 2007, the People's Liberation Army
(PLA) has deployed 990 to 1070 missiles across from Taiwan, and the
number of missiles deployed is increasing at the speed of over 100
missiles per year, with their range, precision, and trajectory
capacity being continually enhanced. The Taiwan government, on the
other hand, has also detected a dramatic increase in unusual
behavior from the PLA lately and has briefed the U.S. side on PLA
movements via the Taiwan-U.S. military cooperation framework. The
move has aroused concerns from the United States, which has thus
launched close surveillance of PLA activities. As it stands, China
has not slowed down its pace of military deployment against Taiwan,
and the cross-Strait situation is in reality full of turbulent
undercurrents. ...

"The contention of the March election seems now to have focused on
cross-Strait policy and the future direction of the new leadership.
It was originally a correct move to put the campaign focus on China
policy, which is essential to Taiwan's survival. But the arguments
over cross-Strait policy have only focused on the aspect of [the
island's] westbound [investments] and overlooked their impact on
[the island's] entire economy, politics and military. Taiwan is
falling into dangerous circumstances without really knowing or
feeling it. ..."

B) "Are Washington and Beijing Being Honest with Each Other or
Harboring Sinister Designs against Each Other?"

Chen Chung-chih, a Taipei County-based Ph.D. candidate, opined in
the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
(3/6):

"The U.S. Congress requires that the U.S. military release a report
on Chinese military strength each year. The fact that Washington
chose to release this year's report earlier than usual [indicated]
that the United States is placing a bet on both sides -- namely, it
has not only sought to remind Taiwan prior to the presidential
election to keep on the lookout for a potential crisis across the
Taiwan Strait, but has also tried to reduce the backlash from China
by releasing its report earlier, so that it will not poison the
atmosphere when U.S. President George W. Bush visits China in
August. For Taiwan's part, it is noteworthy that in the future,
Washington and Beijing will work together in drafting this military
strength report. One cannot help but wonder whether the two sides
are trying to be honest with each other or whether they are
harboring sinister designs against each other. ...

"Washington has been adopting the 'an eye for an eye' strategy
against China. Early last year, China shocked the international
community by launching a missile to shoot down one of its
satellites. The United States, in return, launched an interception
missile from its Aegis-class cruiser, the USS Lake Erie, this year
and destroyed another satellite. When Beijing demanded via its
diplomatic channel that Washington reveal relevant data and
information [of the missile launch], U.S. Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates generously expressed willingness to share 'part' of the
data with China.
GROWTH, TAIWAN'S UN REFERENDA


"For the United States, both Washington and Beijing working together
to draft the military strength report will be a perfect opportunity
to test whether China is willing to enhance its transparency on
information sharing. If China refuses to cooperate, it will provide
solid proof of the U.S. theory that China's military growth will
pose threats [to the United States]. On the contrary, should China
show interest in cooperation, its neighboring countries, including
Taiwan, will be able to positively assess whether China's military
growth is a 'peaceful rise' or a 'China threat.'"

3. Taiwan's UN Referenda

"Taiwan's Rights"

Chen Lung-chu, president of the Taiwan New Century Foundation and
director of the UN for Taiwan Alliance, opined in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000] (3/6):

"... As an independent sovereign nation, Taiwan, like the other
countries, is entitled to be free from invasion or coercion by
external forces. China, however, has tried every means it can and
will stop at nothing to suppress Taiwan's elbow room in the
international community and block Taiwan's efforts to obtain UN
membership. Unity is power. For the sake of the well-being of our
descendants, we need to learn from the Kosovo people their spirit of
asserting independence and [seek to] pass Taiwan's UN referenda with
firm will and determination. That way we can show the international
community Taiwan's common wish to become a UN member. God helps
those who help themselves. Let us cast our referendum ballots in
support of Taiwan's UN membership at this critical moment so as to
create a new opportunity for Taiwan to become a normal country!"

YOUNG

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