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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Un Referenda

VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0395/01 0800913
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200913Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8428
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7986
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9240

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000395

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 UN REFERENDA


Summary: Taiwan's presidential election, which will be held
Saturday in tandem with two referenda seeking the island's UN
membership, continued to stay in the spotlight of the Taiwan media
on March 20. The pro-unification "United Daily News" front-paged a
news story on AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young's visit to KMT
Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung Tuesday; the story ran with the headline
saying "The United States Expresses Concern about Whether Political
Power Will Be Transferred Peacefully." Several other papers also
carried similar news story on their inside pages. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, editorials in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" and "Taiwan News" both called on the
Taiwan voters to cast their ballots for Saturday's UN referenda so
as to demonstrate to the world that "Taiwan is a sovereign nation."
End summary.

A) "It's Use It or Lose it on Saturday"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (3/20):

"Anyone who believed that China respects Taiwanese people should
have been roused from their stupor after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
on Tuesday reiterated Beijing's line that Taiwan is an inseparable
part of China. The timing of Wen's comments -- concurrent with
Beijing's bloody crackdown on protesting Tibetans -- drives home the
need for Taiwanese to vote in Saturday's referendum and make it
known that Taiwan is not a province of China. ... The more
Taiwanese democracy draws the attention of the international
community, the better it can demonstrate that Taiwan is a sovereign
nation.

"Clinging to Wen's coattails, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Thomas Christensen also spoke on
Tuesday against the referendums, branding them 'pointless and
destabilizing' and 'unnecessary and unhelpful.' Wen and Christensen
simply will not concede that Taiwanese democracy is an issue for
Taiwanese.

"On Saturday, Taiwan has the opportunity to show the world just how
different it is from autocratic China. The issue is all the more
important after the UN Office of Legal Affairs on Tuesday again
snubbed an expression of support by Taiwan's allies for the nation's
admission into the world body. The new government to be formed on
May 20 may very well give up on the UN bid if neither referendum
succeeds. Indeed, how can Taiwan ask its allies to speak for it if
the nation doesn't stand up for itself on Saturday?"

B) "Importance of Referendums"

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

"... The result of Saturday's vote may well determine whether Taiwan
follows a road toward integration with the People's Republic of
China and restores KMT 'one-party domination' or maintains its
independence, democracy and a Taiwan-centric path of development.
... The two referendums, especially the DPP-sponsored 'U.N. for
Taiwan' initiative, offer the first opportunity in our history for
the 23 million people of Taiwan to express our collective will on
whether they wish to have their own distinct representation in the
world community. Approval of either referendum will not directly
lead to actual U.N. membership, since only the members of the U.N.
itself have the right to approve our application.

"However, passage of the initiative calling for an application to
join the U.N. under the name of 'Taiwan' or even approval of the
'readmission' version will immeasurably bolster the legitimacy of
Taiwan's effort to affiliate with the U.N. and will compel the U.N.
to face the substantial question of the lack of representation for
the people of Taiwan in the U.N. However, if both referendums fail
to receive valid approval from the electorate, the Beijing regime
will undoubtedly claim to the international media and world
governments that the results confirm its position that calls for
Taiwan's independence or self-determination or retaining our
democratic system are only the 'voice of a small minority' or even
declare that the majority of Taiwanese hope for unification with the
PRC.

"Beijing will thereby receive more legitimacy to squeeze Taiwan out
of international organizations or push for the subordination of our
representation under its umbrella as 'Taipei, China,' similar to
'Hong Kong, China.' Last but not least, it will be virtually
impossible for Taiwan's official allies or democratic friends in the
U.N. to rebut Beijing's claim that 'Taiwan is a province of the
People's Republic of China' and does not merit separate
representation in the U.N. or other international bodies. What is
even more painful is the fact that the KMT's decision to boycott
both referendums for narrow partisan objectives will prevent
Saturday's voting from truly reflecting the genuine collective will

and voice of the Taiwan people, whom favor U.N. participation by an
overwhelming majority according to virtually all opinion polls. We
urge all voters to set aside partisanship and realize that March 22
offers the first and perhaps only chance for the people of Taiwan to
make their collective will heard in the world community."

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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