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


DE RUEHIN #0497/01 1000948
R 090948Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
April 9 news coverage on the speculation that incumbent Soochow
University President Liu Chao-shiuan will be appointed as the next
premier; on the upcoming Boao Forum hosted by China; on the
international torch relay for the Beijing Games; and on a
controversial personnel arrangement in the state-run Taiwan Power
Company. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" devoted more than
half of its page six to discussing the two U.S. aircraft carrier
combat groups that are currently cruising the waters around the
Taiwan Strait until late May and the significance of such a move.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "China Times" analysis
said the deployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier combat groups in
the Taiwan Strait was aimed at "double deterrence" against both
sides of the Taiwan Strait. An editorial in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" discussed the upcoming Boao Forum, in which Vice
President-elect Vincent Siew is expected to meet with Chinese
President Hu Jintao. The article said it is Hu, not Siew, who
should feel worried about Taiwan's status at the forum. An
editorial in the pro-independence "Liberty Times" urged
President-elect Ma Ying-jeou not to lose himself in the applause and
thus put Taiwan's security and sovereignty in danger. An op-ed in
the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" discussed the
"1992 consensus" and said what really matters is whether Beijing is
sincere in putting the consensus into practice. End summary.

A) "[During the Period of Taiwan's] Power Transition, the United
States Is Exercising Double Deterrence to Both Sides of the Taiwan

Journalist Wu Ming-chieh noted in an analysis in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (4/9):

"Ever since the tension across the Taiwan Strait in 1996, the U.S.
military has always dispatched its aircraft carriers to 'pass
through' the neighboring waters of Taiwan whenever Taiwan held its
presidential or other key elections or during the transition of
power in 2000. But never has the United States directly sent two of
its carrier battle groups to 'linger' in the waters north and south
of Taiwan, respectively, as it is doing now starting from Taiwan's
presidential election until the transition of power in May. The
aircraft carriers are expected to stay near the Taiwan Strait for as
long as two months. Such a move by the United States is perhaps not
simply aimed at 'protecting Taiwan' but has also turned into 'double
deterrence' against both sides of the Taiwan Strait. ...

"Even though Washington and Beijing have worked to deepen their
military exchanges over the past few years, when it comes to
maintaining stability across the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. military
still tends to 'say one thing while doing another' and adopt a
'communicating while deterring' pattern with China, as both sides
continue to have conflicting views and lack mutual trust. The
biggest change [during these few years] was that the U.S. military
used to take Taiwan's side and thus dispatch its aircraft carriers
to 'protect Taiwan.' But in fear that the Bian administration might
proactively plot to stir up cross-Strait conflicts for its own
political gains, the U.S. military has instead changed its strategy
and sent its carriers to also 'stop Taiwan.' The U.S. strategy has
been changed into 'double deterrence' to intimidate Beijing and
Taipei at the same time.

"As a result, the unprecedented move by the U.S. military to send
two U.S. carrier battle groups to continue cruising the Taiwan
Strait indicates that in addition to warning Beijing, Washington
does not trust Taiwan either. Taiwan must keep vigilant, and when
the new administration comes to power, it surely has to accelerate
its pace in mending its relations with Washington so as to readjust
and shorten the distance between Taipei and Washington in the
triangular relationship between Washington, Beijing and Taipei."

B) "It is Hu Jintao Who Should Feel Concerned"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (4/9):

"... In fact, Beijing will suffer more pressure than Taipei on
occasions like the Boao Forum, as any words or deeds by Beijing
deliberately to belittle Taiwan will only manifest China's ugly face
of bullying the weak under the international spotlight. Such moves
will not only be childish and boring but will also help Taiwan win
more sympathy [from the international community] and extinguish the
Taiwan people's expectations for [improved] cross-Strait relations.
All the more, they will be akin to helping redeem the notorious line
adopted by Chen Shui-bian and slapping Ma Ying-jeou hard in the
face. [Should that happen], the KMT's moderate cross-Strait policy
will go bankrupt even before the Ma-Siew ticket takes the helm. Can
such a development possibly be the situation that Hu Jintao hopes to
see? ...

"On this aspect, probably no one will ever doubt the goodwill
gesture extended by Taiwan's new government. Thus, it will be
China, not Taiwan, which will be tested at the Boao Forum. It will
not be Taiwan's status but Beijing's image of a great nation, which
will be disparaged. At this moment, it is Hu who should feel
nervous. How is it possible that it is Ma, Siew or the Taiwan
people who are so worried?"

C) "Ma Ying-jeou Must Not Lose Himself in the Applause and Thus Put
Taiwan's Security and Sovereignty in Danger"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (4/9):

"... Ma Ying-jeou has engaged himself in the wishful thinking that
China will offer a panacea for [cross-Strait relations], and in
order to get such magic potion, he is willing to bow low and
humiliate himself in every possible way by announcing the '1992
consensus' and that 'Chinese Taipei is the best name for Taiwan to
apply to enter the World Health Organization.' Ma is yet to assume
his presidency, but he has started saying these things and restoring
sinification on the island, in an attempt to undo the DPP's efforts
towards nativism over the past eight years. Recently, [Ma] even
allowed Vice President-elect Vincent Siew to attend the Boao Forum
hosted by China and meet with [Chinese President] Hu Jintao by
disparaging himself as an ordinary civilian and sending to the world
the wrong signal - that Taiwan is not an independent nation. Such a
series of concessions, be it the recognition of the '1992 consensus'
or addressing Taiwan as 'Chinese Taipei,' are aimed at...breaking
the cross-Strait deadlock in the hope of resuming talks to
acknowledge substantively the 'one China' principle and denying
Taiwan's status as an independent sovereign nation ..."

D) "First China Must Keep Its Promises"

Lin Chia, an independent commentator, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (4/9):

"... Whether Chinese leaders verbally agree with 'one China with
each side having its own interpretation' is not important. What
matters is whether Beijing is sincere in putting it into practice.
This is something that can be verified as soon as Ma takes office.
... KMT legislators should give Ma and the Chinese government a
chance to put the 'one China, different interpretations' framework
into practice. If Beijing is willing to sign a mutual and equal
currency-clearing agreement that does not limit Taiwan's rights or
marginalize Taiwan or its currency, then it would truly be a master
stroke and a blow against the Taiwanese independence movement. The
Taiwanese independence discourse would need to be adjusted.

"But if Beijing only makes exploitative demands about an agreement's
preconditions, structure and content, then the Ma government,
pan-blue legislators, and voters will not need to entertain any
illusions about its idea of "one China with each side having its own


© Scoop Media

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