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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Tibet and Taiwan's Presidential Election

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0390/01 0790919
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190919Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8416
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7975
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9229

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000390

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: TIBET AND TAIWAN'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage March 19 on the two presidential candidates' responses to
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's comment Tuesday on the demonstrations
in Tibet; on the USS Kitty Hawk leaving its home base at Yokosuka,
Japan Tuesday and its current whereabouts; and on the U.S. Federal
Reserve Board's moves Tuesday to resolve the U.S. financial crisis.
Almost all papers reported on AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young's
call on DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh Tuesday, in which
Hsieh said he will not use the UN referendum as a basis to change
the status quo or move toward de jure Taiwan independence.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" used China's suppression of Tibet
to call on the voters to support the UN referenda and support
Taiwan's democracy. A "Liberty Times" column said Chinese Premier
Wen Jiabao's comment Tuesday slapped Ma hard in the face. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
also chimed in by saying that the crisis in Tibet exposes the danger
of the 'One-China' principle. A column in the pro-unification
"United Daily News," however, said Taiwan is different from Tibet in
the way that the Taiwan people can use their votes to decide on
their future. A column in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" also
commented on Tibet's demonstrations, saying that Tibet just wants to
remind the world that they are not subject to China's governance and
that they need more freedom of religion and human rights. End
summary.

A) "In Support of Taiwan and Democracy, Everyone Should Support the
UN Referenda on Taiwan's UN Membership"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (3/19):

"... One can say that on March 22, in addition to the theme of
voting for either the Hsieh-Su ticket or the Ma-Siew ticket, we have
to pay attention to a more sublime theme: namely, to support Taiwan
and to support democracy. The [DPP] referendum on Taiwan's bid to
join the UN has collected the signatures of two million Taiwan
people, while the [KMT] referendum on the island's bid to re-join
the UN has also gathered signatures of one and a half million Taiwan
people. When compared with the fact that more than 80 percent of
the Taiwan public supported the government to submit its application
for UN membership, it is certain that at least 3.5 million out of
the 23 million of the Taiwan people will support the UN referenda on
Taiwan's UN membership. [Ed. Note: this assumes no
double-counting, as some people could have signed for both
referenda.] The only test [for the island] now will be whether the
Taiwan people will turn their belief into action and vote to pass
the two UN referenda on March 22 in order for the whole world to
hear clearly the Taiwan people's voice in seeking the UN membership.


"In particular, China's crackdown on the demonstrations in Tibet has
drawn unanimous condemnation from the international community. The
international climate now is already quite different from that when
China started to threaten and lure other countries to oppose
Taiwan's holding of the UN referenda. At this moment, should the
two referenda get passed on March 22, or at least one is passed, the
international community will surely be able to realize deeply the
Taiwan people's determination to say no to China. ...

"Taiwan is a democratic country whose future should be decided by
the 23 million people on the island, definitely not by 'the entire
Chinese people, including the Taiwan people' as emphasized by
[Chinese Premier] Wen Jiabao. Tibet is currently part of China, and
when China sent its troops to suppress demonstrations in Tibet, the
best the international community can do is to condemn China. Taiwan
is not a normal member in the international community, nor is it a
UN member, so its situation in the international community is very
isolated. As a result, in wake of the passionate campaign
activities on March 16, all voters must clearly recognize that, when
they select a president who really cares for Taiwan, they have to
give full support for the two UN referenda. This is the true
meaning of supporting Taiwan and democracy."

B) "Ma Gets Slapped in the Face by Wen Jiabao"

The "Free Talks" column in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 720,000] wrote (3/19):

"... Ma Ying-jeou criticized Frank Hsieh's statement the other day
that 'Today's Tibet is tomorrow's Taiwan,' adding that Taiwan is not
Tibet. But [Chinese Premier] Wen Jiabao's remarks in which he lied
about [Beijing's] crackdown on Tibet on one hand and toughly opposed
Taiwan's UN referenda on the other and said both Taiwan and Tibet
are part of China were akin to slapping Ma hard in the face. ...
The [UN] referenda are the guarantee for Taiwan to maintain its
status as an independent sovereign state. If the KMT and Ma really
realize their mistakes, they should try their best to push for the
UN referenda to pass, starting today, or Ma's talk will simply be a
tool to fool the voters!"

C) "Tibet Crisis Exposes 'One-China' Danger"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (3/19):

"The eruption of intensifying brutal suppression by Chinese armed
police and military forces of protests in Tibet during the past week
has exposed the danger posed to Taiwan by the acceptance by the
opposition Kuomintang's presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou. ...
Beijing's repression and Wen's arrogant declarations have offered
ample evidence that acceptance of any version of the "one China"
principle, even Ma's delusion that his party's ''one China' is the
Republic of China,' will only result in Taiwan's 'subordination and
suppression' to Beijing and put both Taiwan and Tibet on an 'equal
footing' as 'integral parts' of China.

"Ma has yet to realize that his statement that 'the ROC is an
independent democratic country and that Taiwan's future must be
decided upon by the 23 million people of Taiwan without interference
by the PRC' falls short of assuring the Taiwan people that they will
not follow in the footsteps of Tibet. Although attempting to
copycat the DPP's position in the May 1999 Resolution on the Future
of Taiwan, Ma neither defines the relationship between Taiwan and
the ROC and refuses to endorse the use of referendum to decide
Taiwan's future and indeed on March 9 explicitly opposed Hsieh's
call to put the question of entering into a 'cross-Strait common
market' to our citizens in a referendum. In our view, the DPP's
position that 'Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country,' whose
official name is the Republic of China, and that only the 23 million
Taiwan people can decide Taiwan's future through plebiscite, is
indeed the only acceptable platform for a prospective national
leader of Taiwan."

D) "Taiwan Is Not Tibet"

The "Black and White" column in the pro-unification "United Daily
News" [circulation: 400,000] noted (3/19):

"... The demonstrations in Tibet are divided into two parts: One is
headed by Dalai Lama, who advocates [Tibet's] autonomy and peace and
does not call for its independence. The other, however, advocates
Tibet's independence and does not rule out using violence. When
Frank Hsieh mentioned 'the ideal jointly shared by the Tibetan and
Taiwan people' [in his advertisement], we wonder which 'ideal' he
was referring to? Is 'autonomy' an 'ideal for Taiwan'? Could it be
that Hsieh is running for the 'special administrator of Taiwan' now?
[Ed. Note: analogy to the chief official in charge of
Chinese-ruled Hong Kong] Then is 'Taiwan independence' an 'ideal for
Taiwan'? Perhaps not, because even Hsieh said himself that 'Taiwan
is an independent sovereign nation,' which should not and does not
need to declare independence. Besides, the essential difference
between Taiwan independence and Tibetan independence is that Tibet
wants to be independent from the rule of the People's Republic of
China, while the major objective of Taiwan independence is to
overthrow the Republic of China. ...

"We are about to elect our own president. Is Tibet like us? We
could use our votes to slash the seats of our corrupt ruling party
in the legislative body to less than a quarter. Could Tibet do the
same thing? We can also make a presidential candidate not trusted
by our citizens fail to be elected. Could Tibet do that? We can
vote to 'transfer the political power again.' Can Tibet do that as
well? Yes, both the Taiwan and Tibetan people share a 'common
ideal' -- namely, they do not accept 'unrighteous governance.' But
[to achieve the ideal,] the Tibetans chose to burn cars and smash
the shops, whereas the Taiwan people only need cast a vote on March
22!"

E) "Beijing Has a Beautiful Dream While Lhasa's Dream Is Broken"

James Tu, the President of mass-circulation "Apple Daily,"
[circulation: 520,000] noted in his weekly column (3/19):

"... Strictly speaking, the Western nations did not really offer
much assistance for Tibet to seek independence, but a few diplomats
did create much illusion for the Tibetans. When the Second World
War ended, the United Kingdom quickly withdrew from its colonies in
a panic, and the United States was then powerless to intervene [in
the issue]. The battles between the KMT and the Chinese Communist
Party quickly terminated the Nationalist Government's destiny in
China, and it became irresistible for the People's Liberation Army
to enter Tibet in 1950. Tibet used to be a link in the Cold War,
but the United States, the Nationalist Government and India, which
supported the Tibetan rebel army, only regarded the confrontation
between Tibet and China as a pawn in the grand chess game of the
Cold War. The Nationalist Government aside, even the United States
had no intention of letting Tibet declare independence then. In the
wake of President Nixon's visit to China, the worthless pawn, Tibet,
was thus out of the game. ... What happened in Tibet this time is
simply powerless protest from the Tibetans -- a fight between the
weak and the strong. Their purpose is not to win something but to
remind the people of the world that Tibet is not subject to China's
governance, and that they need more freedom of religion and human
rights. ..."

YOUNG

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