Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations
DE RUEHIN #0462/01 0910858
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310858Z MAR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8601
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8113
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9353
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000462
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: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
March 29-31 news coverage on their interviews with
president-election Ma Ying-jeou Friday, who talked about his views
on the future of cross-Strait relations, Taipei-Washington
relations, and Taiwan's domestic policies; on AIT Chairman Raymond
Burghardt's visit to Taiwan Friday; on Ma's interest in visiting the
United States; on the "1992 consensus"; and on personnel changes in
the defeated DPP.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed several possible pressures
that Ma's election might bring about with respect to Beijing, even
though Ma has promised to reduce the tensions and to reconcile with
China. An editorial in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
urged both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue with
prudence and patience. An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" questioned why U.S.
President George W. Bush sent a garbled message to Taipei -- namely,
Bush urged Beijing and Taipei to resume dialogue in his telephone
conversation with Chinese President Hu Jintao, but when AIT Chairman
Burghardt was in Taipei over the weekend, he told Taipei that the
United States does not want to mediate in the Taiwan issue. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times,"
on the other hand, called the "1992 consensus" a lie created by
Legislator Su Chi of the KMT, which is now able to trick the Bush
administration into thinking that it ever existed. End summary.
A) "Ma Ying-jeou Brings International Pressure to Beijing"
Litai Xue, a research associate in the Center for International
Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, opined in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (3/29):
"... First, in the wake of [Taiwan's] presidential election, the
relations between Washington and Beijing will tend to stabilize for
a certain period of time. Changes that are expected to follow
closely will be the possibility for the United States to adjust its
Taiwan policy. Previously, [Washington] tended to focus on
stabilizing the cross-Strait situation and encouraging contact
between the two sides. From now on, perhaps it will put special
emphasis on preventing the momentum of quick improvement in terms of
across-Strait relations. Henceforth, Washington will likely adjust
its policy depending on the development of the situation and start
to prevent the cross-Strait status quo from having a dramatic
shake-up as a result of the increasingly intimate contact between
the two sides. As a result, Beijing will inevitably face new
pressure from the Western world. ...
"The Western countries used to be able to tolerate China's sharp and
continuous increase in its military budget because Beijing had to
strengthen its military buildup in preparation for the contingencies
in term of cross-Strait situation. In the foreseeable future, if
the threat of de jure Taiwan independence is diminished while China
continues its sharp increase in its military budget to boost its new
and advanced naval and air force capabilities, the United States
will surely believe that the trend will sooner or later constitute a
threat to the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Consequently, the pressure [that Beijing will face] may come from
the overseas Chinese community. Over the recent years, quite a few
overseas Chinese tended to support Beijing's policy against Taiwan
independence primarily because of their pro-China mentality. That
was partially because the DPP administration only paid attention to
overseas Taiwan people and disregarded overseas Chinese. Now that
the KMT has regained power, Taipei will naturally change the
original nearsighted policy toward overseas Chinese. ... Taipei
will continue to emphasize the huge differences between Beijing and
Taipei with regard to democracy and human rights, which will be very
convincing for the overseas Chinese community. ... All these will
form a situation in which Beijing and Taipei are vying with each
other for the centripetal force of overseas Chinese. A certain
number of overseas Chinese will change their minds and take a
position in favor of Taipei. As a result, Beijing will face
challenges on two separate fronts when handling cross-Strait
relations. ... This might be another kind of pressure Beijing will
face from the outside world."
B) "Resume Dialogue across the Taiwan Strait with Prudence and
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"... The Beijing authorities should be clearly aware that Taiwan,
after being ruled by Ma Ying-jeou, will no longer manipulate
cross-Strait issues in a provocative manner. In other words, at
least for the next four years, the island will not frequently use
such means as writing a new constitution, rectifying the island's
name, or bundling referenda with the presidential election to
'create trouble' and deliberately generate tension in the region.
But for Ma, no matter how 'pragmatic' he seeks to be, cannot
possibly 'turn a blind eye' to the hundreds of missile deployed by
Beijing targeting Taiwan. Nor can he possibly 'sit back and watch'
Taiwan's long-term situation of being excluded by international
organizations. Surely he will not 'seal his lips ' with regard to
mainland China's human rights measures. ...
"One can say that, should the Beijing authorities expect to see any
breakthroughs in the future development of cross-Strait relations,
it cannot just have its leaders express goodwill via well-disposed
speeches. If the military still insists on increasing the number of
missiles targeting Taiwan and conducting exercises with the intent
to use force against Taiwan, and if Beijing's agency in charge of
foreign relations insist on luring away Taiwan's allies and
continues its suppression of Taiwan's attempt to participate in the
international community, the chances are slim for Beijing to expect
Ma to act and think magnanimously in terms of his future
C) "How China Can Be Reunited"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (3/30):
"Uncle Sam is sending a garbled diplomatic message to Taiwan again.
President George W. Bush had a telephone conversation with his
Chinese opposite number Hu Jintao last week and they were agreed
Taipei should start dialogue with Beijing right away on the basis of
what is known as the consensus of 1992. Then Raymond Burghardt,
chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, rushed to Taipei to
meet President Chen Shui-bian and president-elect Ma Ying-jeou.
Burghardt told President Chen how Taipei wants to resume dialogue
with Beijing is "your own business" and reiterated the U.S. policy
of playing no mediator role in talks across the Taiwan Strait at a
roundtable discussion organized by the local press. ...
"All this means there's no need whatsoever for Hu and Bush to beat
about the bush. Unless President Bush wanted to play mediator, he
had no reason for making mention of the consensus of 1992 together
with Hu Jintao. Yet Bush sent Burghardt to Taipei to make it crystal
clear that the United States will never mediate. ...
"So far Beijing has refused to accept the commonwealth idea. But the
time seems to have come for an increasingly confident China to
change its mind. For one thing, it's up to Beijing to determine if
the people of an area or region of China are accustomed to
"parliamentary rule" and to grand dominion status after it has so
determined. It doesn't have to fear Taiwan may set a precedent for
Tibet or Chinese Turkistan or Hong Kong that may clamor for similar
status. They have to take more, much more, time to get accustomed to
democracy. On the other hand, it will be really cost-effective to
have them join a future commonwealth. The People's Republic doesn't
have to deploy huge armies in those regions, while enjoying all the
economic benefits that accrue when the commonwealth is formed. ..."
D) Hypnotism and the '1992 Consensus'"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (3/29):
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, White House
security advisers will eventually come to believe it. So it is with
the stubborn myth of the '1992 consensus' between Taiwan and China,
which now has the distinction of tricking Stephen Hadley, national
security adviser to US President George W. Bush, into thinking that
it ever existed. ... The '1992 consensus' has new impetus today
partly because of its utility for the incoming administration of
president-elect Ma Ying-jeou and partly because the DPP has been
characteristically inept in highlighting its fictional birth. With
the highest US officials now subscribing to this mythology, the
ramifications of this ineptitude are plain to see. ...
"These days, it seems, fiction has a role to play in cross-strait
affairs if it fits the template of peaceful deference to Chinese
sensibilities. For Hadley's benefit, it should be said that Su
[Chi] is no stranger to creative tweaking of reality. He had a role
to play in the dissemination to the US Congress of the 'Bulletgate'
leaflet composed by KMT think tank members. This ham-fisted
propaganda campaign meant to serve as a framework for the
pan-blue-camp fantasy that the assassination attempt on Chen and the
vice president on the eve of the 2004 presidential election was