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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations, U.S.-China-Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0510/01 1021237
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111237Z APR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8669
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8153
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9390

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000510

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: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS, U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN
RELATIONS, THE BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage April 11 on vice president-elect Vincent Siew's attendance
at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and Siew's expected meeting with
Chinese President Hu Jintao; on the Ministry of National Defense
(MND)'s alleged violation of freedom of the press; and the worldwide
protests against the Olympic Games torch relay.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the "Apple
Daily" said Siew's attendance at the BFA and his expected meeting
with Hu deserve extensive public review out of several concerns. An
editorial in the "Apple Daily" criticized a rumor that has been
circulating in Taiwan's stock market, alleging that China will
withdraw half its missiles deployed against Taiwan when Taiwan's
President-elect Ma Ying-jeou is inaugurated on May 20, as simply
"gossip." Stephen Yates, former deputy assistant for national
security affairs to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, wondered in the
"Taipei Times" what the Taiwan people can expect from the U.S. and
China in terms of cross-Strait and U.S.-China-Taiwan relations as
Taiwan president-elect Ma Ying-jeou's administration begins. An
editorial and a column in the "Liberty Times" criticized China's
crackdown in Tibet and advocated a worldwide boycott of the Beijing
Olympic Games. End Summary.

3. Cross-Strait Relations

"The Boao Forum for Asia Tests 'One China with Respective
Interpretations.'"

Lai I-chung, a member of the executive board of Taipei-based public
policy research institute Taiwan Thinktank, opined in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (4/11):

"... First, will quasi-Vice President Vincent Siew enter China by
holding the passport of Republic of China or holding a Taiwan
Compatriot Pass? [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma Ying-jeou claimed
that both sides of the Taiwan Strait can negotiate based on the
'1992 consensus' which means 'one China with respective
interpretations.' According to Ma and Siew, Mainland is also part
of the territory of the Republic of China although [the Republic of
China] does not govern it; therefore, Siew should be able to use the
passport of the Republic of China to attend the Boao Forum for Asia
(BFA). If Siew still has to enter China holding a Taiwan Compatriot
Pass issued by the People's Republic of China, it not only shows
that Ma's 'mutual non-denial' is not accepted by China but also
means that the '1992 consensus,' which Ma insists is reality, is
equivalent to accepting the 'one-China principle.' ...

"Siew publicly advocated a 'cross-Strait common market' in the 2004
BFA. As a result, the general public can legitimately suspect that
China made an exception to allow Siew to attend the BFA as a
distinguished guest after registration had closed in order to
realize the 'one-China market' by having a dialogue with Siew. This
[one-China market] includes the opening of negotiations with Taiwan
on a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) [Ed. - this is
an agreement Hong Kong and mainland China concluded in 2003] and the
Hong Kong-ization of Taiwan's economy, etc. According to a poll
commissioned by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), people who
consider that Taiwan should be more cautious regarding Taiwan's

economic and trade exchange with China outnumber those who consider
that Taiwan should be more open. It demonstrates that policies such
as 'a cross-Strait common market' and "the CEPA" are still very
controversial without a domestic consensus. It would be unthinkable
what results would come out of a 'Hu-Siew meeting' when facing
pressures from Beijing. ..."

4. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

A) "Withdrawing Missiles Is Just Gossip"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (4/11):

"... It is not impossible that China withdraws missiles it deploys
[against Taiwan] along the coast. However, withdrawing missiles and
disarmament requires long-term negotiation. Both sides have to
negotiate according to the principle of proportionality and cannot
withdraw just by wishful talk. Why does China want to withdraw
missiles? [Missiles] are the most efficient deterrence that China
can utilize against Taiwan. On what grounds must China give this
gift [of withdrawing missiles] to [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma
Ying-jeou for no reason? China has abundant gifts in its diplomatic
toolbox, such as allowing the three links, 'one China with
respective interpetations,' trade favors, allowing [Taiwan's]
officials to visit China and the United States, and a ceasefire in
the diplomatic arena. There is no point [for China] to use the
extremely weighty card of withdrawing missiles at the outset and
decrease its bargaining chips sometime in the future.
RELATIONS, THE BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES

"What more crucial is, what Taiwan can offer in exchange if China
withdraws its missiles? China will definitely want Taiwan to
decrease or stop purchasing advanced weapons from the United States.
The core of the lengthy negotiation is how many missiles [China]
will withdraw in exchange for how many fewer advanced weapons Taiwan
will buy [than originally planned]. However, this is also involved
with the United States' attitudes and interests. How will the
United States allow Taiwan not to buy or to buy fewer weapons? With
two big sides [the United States and China] pulling and dragging, it
will not only be difficult for a small party like Ma's authorities
to find their niche in between the two big sides, but it will also
be time consuming. Do you still expect the possibility that China
will withdraw missiles on May 20?"

B) "What to Expect of the U.S. and China"

Stephen Yates, President of DC Asia Advisory, a consultancy in
Washington, and former deputy assistant for national security
affairs to United States Vice President Dick Cheney, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (4/11):

"... So far there is no evidence that officials in Beijing or
Washington are entertaining meaningful changes to treatment of
Taiwan in international settings. Beijing has not agreed to a
"ceasefire" in efforts to take Taiwan's remaining diplomatic allies
and has not defined what international space (if any) it will
support for Taiwanese representatives. And Washington has not
linked its relief with Ma's victory to forthcoming relaxation of
symbolic restrictions placed on interaction with Taiwanese officials
(in the US and internationally).

"For example, where is the international space that the US will now
pro-actively advocate for Taiwan, even if Beijing continues to
object? Hard to imagine anything in the near-term, with so many
other equities at stake with Beijing that the US is likely to see as
more important.

"Economic relations with China and the US are the area of greatest
promise in terms of expanded interaction, although it is unclear
what, if any, improvement it will lead to in Taiwan's economic
performance. Loosening restrictions on cross-strait investment,
trade, transportation and tourism will clearly increase activity.
Actual progress towards establishing a common market would do even
more.

"Similarly economic interaction with the US could expand if the US
agrees to simultaneously open negotiations for a bilateral
free-trade agreement. But would deeper economic integration with
either China or the US necessarily lead to more rapid GDP growth,
lower unemployment, greater international competitiveness or higher
consumer confidence?

"For outside observers it is hard to assess how important near-term
progress is to the fate of the Ma Administration. ..."

5. The Beijing Olympic Games

A) "Boycotting the Olympic Games Has Become a Courageous Global Move
to Uphold Justice"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (4/11):

"... In contrast, [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma Ying-jeou, who
during the presidential election threatened that he did not rule out
the possibility to boycott the Beijing Olympic Games if China
continued its crackdown in Tibet, unconsciously becomes China's
puppet to transfer the world's attention by sending Vice
President-elect Vincent Siew to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA)
held on the Hainan Island, China, while the world is condemning
China. Frankly speaking, with the Beijing Olympic Games imminent,
apparently there is not enough time to shift the Olympic Games to
other places. However, people in the world should not connive in
the bloody Chinese crackdown in Tibet. Protesting and interfering
with the torch relay is indeed a courageous move to uphold justice.
If Taiwan's coming government continues its policy of flattering
China, it will not only be despised by the general public but will
also lead Taiwan to a tragic, Tibetan-style destiny. [Taiwan's
incoming government] will be condemned by history."

B) "A Cannibal Holding the Torch"

The "Free Talks" column in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 720,000] wrote (4/11):

"... Only emphasizing economic achievement without talking about the
universal value of democracy is like a cannibal holding a torch and
RELATIONS, THE BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES

bragging about headhunting. People will not know whether to laugh
or cry or, even more, feel appalled. It turns out that China has to
send its armed police forces to protect the torch. Holding the
Olympic Games not only does not improve [China's] national image,
but it even makes 'its head covered with dust and its face covered
with dirt', embarrassing it thoroughly."

YOUNG

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