Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, the Un Referenda
DE RUEHIN #0337/01 0721038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121038Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8331
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7918
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9174
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000337
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.-TAIWAN RELATIONS, THE UN REFERENDA
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage March 12 on KMT's expected announcement on how it will
handle two UN referenda held along with the presidential election;
on the presidential election campaigns; and on New York Governor
Eliot Spitzer's sex scandal. In terms of editorials and
commentaries, Mark Stokes, a former U.S. Department of Defense
official, in the pro-independence English-language "Taipei Times"
shared his reflections on the recently released U.S. Department of
Defense report on the PRC's military. Stokes not only reminded
Taiwan not to divert attention from other security challenges, but
also provide some prospects on the U.S.-Taiwan bilateral defense
relationship. A commentary in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
criticized the KMT's attempt to boycott the UN referenda and the
U.S.'s alleged suppression of Taiwan's participation in the
international community. End summary.
2. U.S.-Taiwan Relations
"Taiwan Must Review Security Risks"
Mark Stokes, a former official at the U.S. Department of Defense and
currently the executive director of The Project 2049 Institute and a
member of the Taiwan Policy Working Group, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"... the growing PRC military threat suggests that further
adjustments may be necessary to the US-Taiwan defense relationship,
in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.
"Abrogation of the US-Republic of China Mutual Defense Treaty and
withdrawal of the US military presence on the island were premised
upon China's commitment to a peaceful approach to resolving
differences with Taiwan.
"The most visible demonstration of a peaceful commitment is its
force posture. Therefore, as the threat to the people of Taiwan and
their democratically elected leadership grows, so should the depth
and breadth of US defense and security relations with Taiwan. A
congressionally mandated policy review group should assess and
recommend a range of new initiatives that could further assist
Taiwan in its self-defense and enhance the ability of the US
military, should it be called upon to do so, to operate with
Taiwan's defense establishment as ad hoc coalition partners.
"In addition, if Taiwan's formal requests for defense articles and
services are not being given proper attention, resurrecting the
annual Arms Sales Talks may be justified.
"Finally, in order to remain aware of other important security
needs, and in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act,
congressionally mandated reporting on Taiwan's economic security is
3. The UN Referenda
"Refusing to Collect the Referenda Ballots is Against the Principle
Lee Wen-chung, a former DPP legislator, opined in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (3/12):
"The controversy over the DPP's UN referendum and the KMT's UN
referendum has been unceasing. Many people reckon that the passage
of the referenda does not help [Taiwan] to enter the United Nations
and will instead seriously harm U.S.-Taiwan relations and
cross-Strait relations. The failure of the referenda will send
wrong signals to the international community, which will result in
enormous harm [to Taiwan]. These arguments have their reasons.
However, when it is unlikely that the referenda and the presidential
election can be separated, and the controversy with other
compromised plans cannot be solved because of time constraints and
legitimate procedures, some people in the Blue camp once again
advocate refusing to collect the referenda ballots, which we sternly
"First, the Asia-Pacific order which the U.S. predominates is to
maintain the stability across the Taiwan Strait by keeping the
status quo of Taiwan' independent sovereignty and suppress our space
in participating in the international community.
"This is definitely unfair to Taiwan! It has significant meaning
when people voice discontent to the international community and
demand that Taiwan have an appropriate international personality via
the passage of a referendum. Second, the purpose of two presidents
in the past to come up with "a special state-to-state relationship"
[Lee Teng-hui] and "one state on each side" [Chen Shui-bian] was to
echo people's voices at a certain level. These claims obviously do
not coincide with the U.S. and China's interests. Pressure is put
on our administration directly. Once a referendum passes, sympathy
will arise extensively in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Beijing will
have scruples as well. All this will provide a new leader [in
Taiwan] with more strategic room to maneuver when striving for
international status. Third, Taiwan internally has divergent
grounds on issues such as unification and independence, ethnicity,
and cross-Strait relations. Joining the UN is one rare issue that
has a high consensus among people. Therefore, promoting the issue
has a significant function of integrating internal consensus.
"If the KMT once again advocates refusing to collect the referenda
ballots, the direct effect will be the failure of the referenda for
not passing the threshold. The serious harm to Taiwan is as
described above. ..."