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


DE RUEHIN #0494/01 0991007
R 081007Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
April 8 news coverage on Vice President-elect Vincent Siew's planned
April 11-13 meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Boao
Forum on Hainan Island (China); on the island's soaring consumer
price index; on President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's proposed economic
policies; and on reform of the defeated DPP. The pro-unification
"United Daily News" front-paged a news story with the headline "Hu
and Siew Will Meet One-on-One at the Boao Forum." Also, several
papers reported that U.S. President George W. Bush will personally
approve the sale of F-16 C/D fighter aircraft to Taiwan after May,
or most likely, after Beijing holds the Olympics in August.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" slashed at Vice President-elect
Vincent Siew's upcoming meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and
called it a humiliating trip that surrenders Taiwan's sovereignty.
A "United Daily News" analysis, however, said the Hu-Siew meeting
will create a new model for Beijing to figure out how to communicate
with Taipei. An op-ed in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China TimesLQ'D:QGQ$:Qf the election of the Ma-Siew ticket, Siew's
trip will be akin to a trip from a tribute country, which will
surrender Taiwan's sovereignty and humiliate our nation if Beijing
fails to confirm and respect Siew's capacity as a quasi-Vice
President. Also, the Taiwan people will not understand or forgive
such a move that tramples on Taiwan's sovereignty. ...

"... Vice President-elect Siew's erroneous display of self
disparagement can actually be traced back to the thinking behind
President-elect Ma's remarks in Taiwan that 'one China is the
Republic of China,' the '1992 consensus' indicates 'one China with
respective interpretations,' or those to the international community
that '[Taiwan] will join the World Health Organization under the
name Chinese Taipei.' The essence of [Ma and Siew's] thinking is to
curry favor with China to the extent that [Taiwan] is willing to
flinch and emasculate itself, or even to sacrifice its status when
it is related to sovereignty. Based on such a foundation of turning
over [Taiwan's] sovereignty [to China], it is really doubtful to see
how wisely the Ma-Siew team will present itself in terms of their
ability and strategy to carry out their pledge to the Taiwan people
-- namely, cross-Strait talks that will be peaceful, on an equal
footing and beneficial to Taiwan. ..."

B) "Hu-Siew Meeting, a New Model for Beijing to Figure out How to
Communicate [with Taiwan]"

Journalist Lai Ching-hung noted in an analysis in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (4/8):

"... Unlike [former President] Lee Teng-hui's style of sending
'secret envoys' to China or the [cross-Strait] tension during the
reign of Chen Shui-bian, Beijing expects that the two sides of the
Taiwan Strait can have friendlier interactions after Ma Ying-jeou
and Vincent Siew take the helm. It seems to be a viable approach to
build a cooperative model between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait
that differs from Lee's secret envoys, Chen's frontline propaganda,
or the KMT-Chinese Communist Party cooperation platform. Beijing
also hopes to build a high-level communication channel so as to
better and more quickly understand Ma's mainland policy and shorten
its distance with him. The upcoming Hu-Siew meeting will mark the
beginning of friendly contact and an initial step to build a
cooperation platform [across the Taiwan Strait], but it surely will
not be a venue to resolve bilateral disputes."

C) "Challenges Posed by Ma Ying-jeou's Victory on Beijing"

Jing Huang, an independent commentator who used to work for the
Brookings Institution, opined in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China

Times" [circulation: 400,000] (4/8):

"... Over the past years under Chen Shui-bian's reign, one of the
biggest losses that Taiwan has suffered is the unprecedented
deterioration of Washington-Taipei relations. This development has,
objectively speaking, brought about common interests between
Washington and Beijing in the Taiwan issue, thus resulting in
Washington's and Beijing's joint efforts to prevent Taiwan
'independence' and to 'manage' the status quo across the Taiwan
Strait. Ma Ying-jeou declared in public that after the KMT comes
back to power, he will seek to maintain the cross-Strait status quo
using his three 'Noes' policy -- namely, no unification, no
independence and no use of force. This policy is not only the best
option to restore Washington-Taipei relations but also a basic
approach to resolve 'co-management' by Washington and Beijing on the
cross-Strait situation, deterring Beijing's policy over the recent
years to 'restrain Taiwan by way of Washington.'

"As long as the cross-Strait status quo can be maintained,
Washington will surely adjust its Taiwan policy based on its own
strategic interests and will stick to its position in the
cross-Strait relations. These three forces, like the three legs of
a tripod, are certainly a solid framework. But if the three legs
each do things in their own ways based on their own interests
without coordinating with each other, how will the 'tripod' remain
steady? ..."

D) "Washington Sends Mixed Signals"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (4/8):

"... Again last week, Washington demonstrated that the manner in
which governments formulate policy is anything but rational, and
seldom the result of a decision by a single actor. On the Gordian
knot that is the Taiwan Strait, Washington has long been of two
voices - the Pentagon's and the State Department's. While the former
emphasizes arming Taiwan in a balance-of-power struggle with China,
the latter strives for better relations with Beijing, often to the
detriment of Taipei, democracy and human rights in general. What
happens when two such lines of direction clash is mixed signals,
which is what we were served last week in a Congressional Research
Service (CRS) report on the impact of last month's election.

"One should not be surprised, then, if in the past year or so, this
resulted in a sometimes overt, sometimes underhanded, support for
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) president-elect Ma Ying-jeou, who
was seen as key to diminishing tensions in the Strait. While it
would be unfair, given the wide margin of victory, to blame the
State Department for the DPP's loss in the election, it remains that
eight years of heavy criticism cannot have helped its candidate's
cause. When Ma won, we could almost hear the sigh of relief blowing
across the Pacific. At last, friendlier ties in the Strait, a chance
for peace.

"The festive mood lasted a week or so, whereupon other voices in
Washington began to resonate. It now seemed that Taiwan may perhaps
be growing too close to China, which, as the CRS report stated,
could threaten US interests in the region and have a negative impact
on weapons sales to Taiwan. All of a sudden, peace no longer seemed
to be such a good thing. What this all means is that rather than
speaking in a single voice, governments (at least democratic ones)
have at their core conflicts of interest and Washington's wavering
over the past eight years was an expression of that reality. It may
very well be that in the next weeks and months, the voices clamoring
for not-so-friendly ties in the Taiwan Strait will be in the
ascendance. Should this be the case, Ma may have more in common
with Chen than he'd care to admit."


© Scoop Media

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