Cablegate: Taiwan Elections: South China Scholar Calls Both Candidates
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0170 0800837
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200837Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6990
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000170
STATE FOR EAP/TC, EAP/CM
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TW CH
SUBJECT: Taiwan Elections: South China Scholar Calls Both Candidates
Better Than Status Quo
Ref: 07 Guangzhou 1265
1. (SBU) Summary: Though Ma Ying-jeou is heavily favored by south
China experts to win in the upcoming Taiwan elections, a victory by
either of the leading candidates, in their view, would improve
cross-Strait relations. In spite of efforts by Taiwan Businesmen
Associations to encourage their members to return to vote in Taiwan,
numbers are likely to be moderate. One scholar thought the recent
developments in Tibet could be advantageous to Frank Hsieh and the
DPP. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Regardless of who wins the upcoming Taiwan elections,
cross-Strait relations will improve, according to Xiamen University
Taiwan Research Institute Political Research Director Zhang
Wensheng. While the Institute's scholars generally see Ma Ying-jeou
as having the advantage, a last-minute, unexpected occurrence --
such as the 2004 election-eve gunshot attack against Chen Shuibian
-- could conceivably propel Frank Hsieh ahead, said Zhang.
3. (SBU) Zhang commented that Ma's opposition to the Taiwan UN
referendum and other "moving-Taiwan-away-from-China actions" would
improve the stability of cross-Strait relations if he were elected.
He also said that although Beijing preferred Ma due to its proven
track record of dialogue with Pan-Blue parties, his strong positions
on mainland democratization, removal of mainland missiles, and using
the name "Republic of China" would doubtless remain sticking
4. (SBU) A Hsieh victory would likely see the implementation of the
"three links" -- increased tourism opportunities, chartered flights,
and removal of limits on Taiwan investment in the mainland -- but
would also bring with it Beijing's distrust of the DPP, Zhang said.
How Many will Return to Vote?
5. (U) Taiwan Businessmen Associations (TBAs) in south China and
throughout the mainland have encouraged their members to return to
vote in the election. "For Taiwan, for us, for our children" read
the cover of one recent TBA publication calling on members to vote.
The pro-Ma publication echoed speeches at several TBA galas held in
Dongguan (reftel) during the past year.
6. (SBU) Dongguan TBA Executive Vice Chair Charles Hsieh told us
March 17 that "many, many" Taiwan investors would return to vote.
Media projections on the number of returning voters have ranged from
50,000 to as high as 250,000. However, Xiamen University's Zhang
predicted that only a relatively small number of Taishang would
return for the vote, mostly due to the cost of travel and a limited
number of airline flights.
Tibet Complicates the Issue
7. (SBU) Like other scholars on the mainland, Zhang speculated that
the recent riots in Tibet could play to the advantage of the DPP,
which he said had already seized upon the slogan, "Tibet today,
Taiwan tomorrow." Zhang said that Taiwan voters already
apprehensive about communist rule might view the DPP as the best
choice to avoid coming under the influence of the mainland.