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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations, Cross-Strait

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0451/01 0880838
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280838Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8576
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8096
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9340

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000451

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: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS, CROSS-STRAIT
RELATIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
March 28 news coverage on U.S. President George W. Bush's call to
his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao Wednesday, in which Hu mentioned
that China is willing to resume dialogue with Taiwan based on the
"1992 consensus;" on the chances for president-elect Ma Ying-jeou to
visit the United States before his inauguration on May 20; on Ma's
visit to former President Lee Teng-hui; and on defeated DPP
presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's meeting with President Chen
Shui-bian Thursday. The pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a
banner headline on page two that said "Hu Mentions the 1992
Consensus; U.S.: Very Interesting." The pro-independence "Liberty
Times," however, ran a banner headline on page three that read "The
KMT is Going to Let China Define the 1992 Consensus?"

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" speculated on the possible
development of Washington-Beijing-Taipei relations in the wake of
Ma's election. The article said the route from Taipei via
Washington to Beijing will rapidly shorten the distance between Ma
and China, and an enormous breakthrough in cross-Strait relations
will likely emerge. A "United Daily News" editorial discussed the
1992 consensus and said it "takes two to tango" for cross-Strait
relations to improve. A "Liberty Times" editorial, however,
exclaimed that the "1992 consensus" marks the beginning of a serious
crisis for Taiwan's survival. An op-ed in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" also chimed in by urging Taiwan not
to use the "1992 consensus" as the foundation for resuming dialogue
with China, or Taiwan will end up like Tibet. A separate "Taipei
Times" op-ed, written by an Australian-based writer, said China is
still skeptical about president-elect Ma Ying-jeou. The op-ed said
it remains an open question whether Ma is able to work out a clear
strategy and resolve the difficulties pose to Taiwan and China. End
summary.

3. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

""Bush, Hu [Jintao], and Ma [Ying-jeou] Triangle"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" editorialized [circulation:
520,000] (3/28):

"... China's attitude is the key factor as to whether [U.S.
President George W.] Bush allows [Taiwan's president-elect] Ma
[Ying-jeou] to visit the United States. It is likely that Bush
called Hu Jintao to test the latter's attitude and to persuade Hu to
show some flexibility. If Hu wants to give Ma Ying-jeou a
congratulatory gift, the first gift should be his tacit agreement to
let Washington consent to Ma's visit to the United States. It
appears that Hu is not against Ma's visit to the U.S. If it is
true, it is very likely that Ma will soon receive an invitation from
Washington.

"The route [from Taipei to Beijing] via the U.S. will rapidly
shorten the distance between Ma and China. A major breakthrough in
cross-Strait relations will likely emerge. If China recedes from
'one China' to 'both Mainland and Taiwan belong to one China,' then
to the 1992 consensus, there will be a solid foundation for peaceful
cross-Strait dialogue. The 1992 consensus (one-China with
respective interpretations), is the KMT's bottom line, and the KMT
cannot recede beyond it. The bottom line of China is one China
without interpretation, which means everyone recognizes one China
but does not need to define it explicitly. There is not much
difference between the two [the KMT's and China's bottom lines].
The 1992 consensus includes one China with respective
interpretations and one China without interpretation, a foundation
that both the KMT and the Communists can accept. That is why
Beijing feels relieved. Before now, China has never recognized the
existence of the 1992 consensus. Now, 'pushing a boat along with a
favorable current' is advantageous to both sides. ...

"A third party can play as many as more than ten roles, including
provider, instructor, bridge builder, mediator, arbitrator,
balancer, healer, observer, judge and peacekeeper. In the initial
stage during the breakthrough of cross-Strait negotiations, the U.S.
indeed needs to play a third-party role. To Taiwan, the most
important role the U.S. should play is peacekeeper, through [the use
of] force. With [U.S.] protection, cross-Strait negotiations will
be nothing but negotiations on the terms of Taiwan's surrender. Ma
Ying-jeou's visit to the U.S. has to make the U.S. guarantee these
roles mentioned above."

4. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "One China with Respective Interpretations; Tango across the
Strait"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (3/28):
RELATIONS


"... First it is necessary [for both China and Taiwan] to establish
an even structure. The '1992 consensus/one-China with respective
interpretations' should be a foundation that both [China and Taiwan]
accept. Beijing so far has recognized 'both sides interpreting one
China' although Taipei keeps saying that it is 'one-China with
respective interpretations,' Beijing, at least, does not need
directly to deny Taipei's 'one-China with respective
interpretations.' Why not use the '1992 consensus' to envelop
'one-China with respective interpretations' and 'both sides
interpreting one China' and let each side say what it wants, as long
as it does not disagree [with the other side].

"In this aspect, Beijing has to create more room. Cross-Strait
relations so far only use "maintenance of the status quo' as their
crux. 'Anti-Secession Law' is only opposed to 'de jure Taiwan
independence.' [China] cannot avoid facing the existence of the
Republic of China. After nearly two decades of power struggle
across the Taiwan Strait, Beijing has to recognize that there is no
status quo without the Republic of China; to maintain the status quo
has to maintain the Republic of China. ..."

B) "'1992 Consensus' Is the Beginning of a Severe Crisis Concerning
Taiwan's Survival"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (3/28):

"... It is obvious that the 1992 consensus referred to by Hu Jintao
emphasizes that Taiwan is part of China, and that he does not
recognize at all that the Republic of China (ROC) or Taiwan is an
independent sovereign state. For the 1992 consensus spoken of by Ma
Ying-jeou, however, even though he stressed that the one China is
the ROC, he actually lacks historical and legal evidence to prove
that Taiwan is tantamount to the ROC. One can say of the 1992
consensus, be it of Hu or Ma, both regard Taiwan as a part under the
jurisdiction of either the People's Republic of China or the ROC.
Despite their differences, [Hu and Ma] both ultimately see Taiwan as
part of China. ...

"Evidently, the so-called 1992 consensus or one China with both
sides of the Taiwan Strait agreeing to differ on its definition --
words that people are still talking about nowadays -- both deny the
sovereign status of Taiwan. China is bent on annexing Taiwan and
refuses to see Taiwan as a sovereign nation. Though we are against
the view of the 1992 consensus, we are not surprised to see it
[being brought up]. The weird thing is that president-elect Ma, who
was elected by the Taiwan people, has forgotten Taiwan's sovereignty
immediately after winning the election. One can still recall that,
during the last stage of his campaign, Ma emphasized that Taiwan's
uture should and will be determined by the 23 million people of
Taiwan. One can hardly endorse Ma's political sincerity after
having seen how he abandoned his promise like disposable utensils.


"The UN General Assembly passed Resolution 2758 in 1971,
acknowledging the PRC as the sole legitimate government representing
China at the UN. In this vein, there is hardly any room for the
international community to imagine that both sides [of the Taiwan
Strait] recognize that there is only one China but agree to differ
on its definition. As long as Taiwan accepts the so-called 1992
consensus or different definitions of one China, it will be akin to
accepting in the international community that Taiwan is part of
China, whose sole legitimate government is the PRC government, and
that the ROC actually does not exist. As a result, Ma's wishful
declaration that the one China is the ROC is nothing but a big joke.
..."

C) "Learning from Tibet's Experience"

Ruan Ming, a consultant at the Taiwan Research Institute, opined in
the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (3/28):

"... If Taiwanese can stand united to protect Taiwan's freedom,
democracy, independence and sovereignty and reject the so-called
"1992 consensus," the "one China" principle and a peace agreement,
then China cannot turn Taiwan into another Tibet, and it will not
dare invade Taiwan, turning Chinese President Hu Jintao's
'Anti-Secession' Law into nothing more than a useless piece of
paper.

"But if Taiwan is internally divided and lets China apply pressure
from the outside, while having the people who have joined up with
China to suppress Taiwanese independence apply pressure from the
inside, this double-edged pressure could force Taiwan's president to
accept the so-called "1992 consensus" and the "one China" principle,
muddle over Taiwan's independence, sovereignty and democracy, and
RELATIONS

instead sign a peace agreement with Hu. China is hoping for just
such a historical opportunity to turn Taiwan into another Tibet.
..."

D) "Can [Taiwan's president-elect] Ma [Ying-jeou] Work Cross-Strait
Miracles?"

Sushil Seth, an Australian-based writer, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (3/28):

"... Of course, to mollify China, Ma has also said that his
administration will not "support Taiwan's de jure independence." He
believes that within the broad concept of "one China," both sides
might be free to interpret it in their own way. In other words,
Taipei will seek to deal with the political side of the relationship
through creative ambiguity.

"That means Taiwan will maintain its identity and de facto sovereign
status without challenging the broad concept of "one China" - a
status quo of sorts.

"Ma might have his own reasons to believe that China will fall for
this, though it didn't in the past. Either Ma is overestimating his
reach or China somehow might agree to accommodate him. ..."

YOUNG

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