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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0474/01 0920903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010903Z APR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8616
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8121
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9359

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000474

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


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language focused their April 1
news coverage on the controversy over whether the Chen Shui-bian
caretaker government should raise or freeze gasoline prices; on
president-elect Ma Ying-jeou's planned meeting with President Chen
Shui-bian Tuesday morning; on possible developments in the
cross-Strait relations; and on the future direction of the defeated
DPP. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" ran an exclusive
banner headline on page four that said "National Security Bureau:
Chinese Communist Party Takes Precautions against [Possible] 'Taiwan
Independence Incidents' before May 20."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said president-elect Ma and vice
president-elect Vincent Siew will soon come to realize that it is
never easy to be a leader. The article said forming a new cabinet
and finding a way to deal with China are the two challenges Ma and
Siew will face initially. A "China Times" column cautioned both
sides of the Taiwan Strait on the possibility that U.S. President
George W. Bush, in order to leave a legacy, may want to push Taiwan
and China to talk, mediating a peace agreement before he steps down
in another nine months. An op-ed in the pro-unification "United
Daily News" suggested that Ma be more cautious when he makes remarks
now, because Beijing will be watching closely and evaluate Ma's
every word. End summary.

[Ed. Note: A searchable archive of past issues of AIT/Taipei's media
review products may be found at
www.intelink.gov/communities/state/taiwanmedi areview.]

A) "The Difficulty of Being A Leader"

Columnist Antonio Chiang said in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (4/1):

"... Washington and Beijing both congratulated Ma Ying-jeou [on Ma's
election]. However, it will be Ma's wishful thinking if he thinks
most of the ideas he advocated, such as the peace accord, the 1992
consensus, and the three links [across the Taiwan Strait] can be
achieved right away. A-Bian also tried to push these agendas when
he assumed office initially, but to no avail. Everyone is curious
what excellent plan Ma can offer [for the strained cross-Strait
relations] other than showing a goodwill gesture toward Beijing.

"It is a dynamic game to deal with the Chinese Communists. [Ma] has
to consolidate every step when [he] advances. Every move likely
will increase or decrease his freedom to act. For the political
negotiations initiated by Beijing, regardless of the agenda, Taiwan
is essentially regarded [by Beijing] as both a rival and a target
for negotiations. Once Taiwan accepts such an agenda, if will only
win back itself should the island wins, but it will lose everything
if it loses. However, for Beijing, it will win anyway, as long as
Taiwan is willing to talk. ..."

B) "[U.S. President George W.] Bush Seeking to Leave a Legacy; Both
Sides Should Take Precautions"

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kuo Chen-lung wrote in the "International
Column" in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] (4/1):

"... Ma Ying-jeou's visit to the United States is definitely not as
simple as setting a precedent. What the United States really wants
is to meet with the [Taiwan] president-elect and talk about
cross-Strait relations in a broad and practical manner; Washington
not only wants to discuss the content of [Ma's] inaugural address
but also to involve itself in the steps and timeline of the
development of cross-Strait relations, so that they can pose the
question, 'Is there anything the United States can do [for Taiwan
and China]?'

"Judging from the situation that [U.S. President George W.] Bush has
been running into a wall [in international issues involving the
Middle East, North Korea and Africa], if a mechanism for
cross-Strait contact and interaction can be formed in the six months
after Ma's election, it will be the biggest diplomatic achievement
[for Bush] in his term of office. The resumption of talks by mid-
or low-level officials [across the Taiwan Strait], such as Taiwan's
Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for Relations
Across the Taiwan Strait, is not a political reconciliation in the
United States' view. The best option [for Washington] will be to
arrange a summit, bringing Ma and Hu Jintao together to stand next
to Bush. Even if [both sides] fail to achieve anything in the
future, it will be an excellent photo opportunity. Isn't it so that
the Camp David accords won the Nobel peace prize? Who cares if the
mechanism will be able to last long?

"Ma certainly does not want to be pushed; he has four, or even eight
years to do so, and he can decide at his own pace. Hu has less than
five years left [on the throne], and he is willing and he can wait.

But Bush has only nine months left in the remainder his term; he may
overstep his authority and hasten to act as a mediator, because he
is impatient. Hu can drag his feet, can take advantage of the
aspect favorable for Beijing because of Washington's push for talks.
But for Ma, he can hardly say 'No' to Bush because the United
States has a great influence on Taiwan. ... It will be a tragedy for
both sides of the Taiwan Strait should it really happen some day
that [KMT Legislator] Su Chi and [China's Deputy Foreign Minister]
Dai Bingguo are forced to draft an agreement under the supervision
of the United States' next secretary of state."

C) "The Election Is Over, Ma Should Be Careful of What He Says"

Barry Chen, a professor at the Graduate Institute of American
Studies of Chinese Culture University and a visiting scholar at
Beijing Union University, opined in the pro-unification "United
Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (4/1):

"... Now that Ma [Ying-jeou] is elected, Beijing has rose beyond
[the stage of] viewing Ma's words as simply campaign rhetoric and is
seriously waiting for Ma to explain clearly his cross-Strait policy.
Beijing is at least highly concerned about how Ma will handle the
three cornerstones, on which the 1992 consensus was built. The
first [cornerstone] is the one China as stated in the Constitution
of the Republic of China, which Beijing regards as the basis for
[the statement that] 'both sides across the Taiwan Strait belong to
one China.' As a result, [China] advocates that the Taiwan issue
should be decided jointly by all the Chinese people, including the
Taiwan people. But Ma asserts that the future of Taiwan has to be
determined by Taiwan's 23 million people.

"Second, although Chen Shui-bian has terminated [Taiwan's] National
Unification Council, which was established in accordance with the
National Unification Guidelines, Beijing and Washington both believe
that the National Unification Council still exists while its
operation is just frozen. Beijing is waiting to see how Ma will
manage the issue of the National Unification Council. Third, most
Taiwan people used to consider themselves as both Taiwan people and
Chinese people. Today, most people consider themselves only Taiwan
people but not Chinese. Beijing is also concerned about how Ma will
respond to this phenomenon. ..."

YOUNG

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