Cablegate: Media Reaction: The Un Referenda, the U.S.-China-Taiwan
DE RUEHIN #0348/01 0730945
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130945Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8347
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7929
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9185
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000348
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: THE UN REFERENDA, THE U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage March 13 on the clash outside DPP presidential candidate
Frank Hsieh's campaign headquarters; on the presidential election
campaigns; and on the Chinese Taipei baseball team beating Australia
and winning a spot in the Beijing Olympic Games. Taiwan's and
China's human rights situation as reported in the State Department's
2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices also received
attention in local newspapers. U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral
Timothy Keating's remarks on cross-Strait relations were covered by
major dailies as well. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" ran
a banner headline on page five saying "U.S. Pacific Commander: March
22 to May 20, Hope Bian [President Chen Shui-bian] does not Fan the
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, on the eve of the third
anniversary of China's anti-secession law, President Chen Shui-bian
published a commentary in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
describing why both the referenda proposed by the DPP and the KMT
seeking UN membership are important for the development of Taiwan's
democracy. Chen urged voters to support both UN referenda on March
22. The Pentagon's annual report on Chinese military capabilities
continues to be the subject of follow-up discussions in strategic
circles. A commentary in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times" mentioned the choices that China might face after
Taiwan's presidential election and how China will manage the U.S. by
creating political leverage over other international issues that are
important to the U.S. End summary.
3. The UN Referenda
"Giving Democracy a Chance - Using Referenda to Cheer on Taiwan"
President Chen Shui-bian wrote a column in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000] (3/13):
"... The [DPP's] 'referendum to join the UN' and the [KMT's]
'referendum to return to the UN,' which are to be held on March 22,
will not only be an opportunity to voice to the whole world the
Taiwan people's aspiration to join the UN, and the determination and
the will to participate actively in international society, but they
will also be 'anti-war, anti-invasion, and anti-annexation'
plebiscites. Since China passed the 'anti-secession law,' it has,
through diplomatic channels, increasingly pressured the UN
Secretariat and organizations that belong to the UN system to
request that they accept China's wrong interpretation of UN
Resolution 2758 claiming that the People's Republic of China has
sovereignty over Taiwan and that the People's Republic of China can
represent the 23 million people of Taiwan in the United Nations. ...
"For [the sake of] Taiwan and democracy, everyone, please do not
boycott the referenda on March 22. If you are against the
'anti-secession law,' against China using force to annex Taiwan; if
you support Taiwan having its own seat in the UN and support
Taiwan's participation in the international community with equal
status, then please cast the referendum ballots. No matter [whether
it is] 'the referendum to join the UN' or 'the referendum to return
to the UN,' [you] must collect both ballots and approve both
referenda and make both referenda ... pass the threshold, and make
every one of Taiwan's 23 million people a winner. Let us join hands
to make new history in Taiwan's plebiscite. Give democracy a
chance, and use referenda to cheer for Taiwan!"
4. The U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
"China Wants to Manage U.S. Policy"
Sushil Seth, a writer based in Australia, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"... China would like to avoid military confrontation with the US
over Taiwan or anywhere else, with the US being by far the strongest
military power. ...
"Beijing has often maintained that it is prepared for talks within
the "one China" formula. And if China, and a KMT government in
Taipei, were to work out a formula that rules out a separate Taiwan,
any US commitment to defend Taiwan might become redundant.
"But it might not be all that simple, because any working
arrangement between Beijing and Taipei will have a long time frame.
And a new government in Taiwan will not be all that keen to abjure
US protection during a long transitional relationship between
Beijing and Taipei. ...
"While China might find living with a new KMT government (if voted
into power) congenial, it cannot count on a smooth political
trajectory. And the US commitment to defend Taiwan is likely to
"Beijing is aware of this and hence is continuing to build its
military capability designed, in the short and medium term, to deter
the US from taking on China.
"In other words, the US might find the cost of confronting China
"With the US looking to Beijing for support on international issues
at a time when Washington is overstretched, Taiwan tends to become a
"The problem, though, is any sign of appeasement on Taiwan would be
read by China as the US' faltering resolve to keep actively engaged
in the Asia-Pacific.
"Some of the regional countries are already factoring this into
their policy formulations by seeking political accommodation with
China as the pre-eminent regional power."