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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Presidential Election

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0383 0780938
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180938Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8399
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7964
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9218

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000383

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 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage March 18 on the presidential election campaigns; on various
circles in Taiwan that support Tibet; and on the fall of global
stocks after the sale of Bear Stearns and an emergency cut of a key
lending rate by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" ran a banner headline on page three saying "Big U.S.
Fed Movement; Global Financial Markets Frightened and Suspicious"
and published a whole page of stories on reactions from financial
markets.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said there are four possible factors
that will determine whether DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh
or KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's is elected president.
A commentary in the pro-unification "United Daily News" criticized
the DPP's opposition to the "one-China market" proposed by the KMT.
The commentary, however, cited the example of the DPP government
opening the local market to U.S. beef and pork and criticized the
DPP government for having a double standard in policy-making when
dealing with China versus the U.S. End summary.

A) "The Final Factors Deciding Ma or Hsieh's Victory or Loss"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 500,000]
editorialized (3/18):

"... With four days left, a few factors will decide victory or loss.
(1) Whether light-green voters turn out and support Hsieh. If it
happens as it did in the legislative elections, with many abstaining
or committing apostasy and voting for Ma, then Hsieh will lose. (2)
Voters in the middle of the political spectrum might possibly be a
key minority, although there are not many of them. The impact of
their abstention will not be a big one. Nonetheless, if many of
them vote for Ma, Hsieh will definitely lose. If many of them vote
for Hsieh, Hsieh will not necessarily win but might have a chance.
(3) It depends on how the [KMT's platform of the] one-China market
ferments. If it ferments [i.e. boils over] seriously, Hsieh will
have a chance; if not seriously, Ma will definitely win. (4) Ma's
camp had better pray that the Chinese Communist military does not
massacre Tibetans as during the Tiananmen Square protests.
Otherwise, if [the Chinese crackdown in Tibet] turns out to be a
major international event, it will definitely affect Ma's campaign.
..."

B) "Enough! Do Not Treat Voters Like Idiots"

Journalist Peng Hui-ming wrote in the "United Notes" column in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (3/18):

"Recently the Green camp has fiercely attacked the 'one-China
market' topic and emphasizes that if the Blue camp [presidential
candidate Ma Ying-jeou] is elected, China's cheap labor will take
all the jobs of Taiwan's workers, and the Mainland's dangerous
products will sicken Taiwan people whenever they touch them. With
campaigns going on fervently, one of the strategies is to attack the
rival's policy weaknesses. However, distorting facts deliberately
and engaging in demagoguery is not only politically immoral but also
is a way of looking down at voters. ...

"Furthermore, dangerous products made in China which have caused
problems in various countries in recent years have in fact destroyed
the reputation of products 'made in China.' However, does the
government of Taiwan, as a consumer country, use the same yardstick
to check on imported goods? U.S. beef is under the shadow of mad cow
disease. The government, however, vied to be the first to allow the
import without caring about people's food safety. Regarding U.S.
pork containing ractopamine, [the government] even amended the law
especially to [U.S. pork's] advantage. The Green camp slams Chinese
products for hurting people but uses a double-standard to deal with
dangerous products [from the U.S.]. ..."

YOUNG

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