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Cablegate: Media Reaction: The Boao Forum for Asia (Bfa)

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0514/01 1051010
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141010Z APR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8675
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8157
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9393

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000514

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: THE BOAO FORUM FOR ASIA (BFA)


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage April 12-14 on Taiwan Vice President-elect Vincent Siew's
historic meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The interaction
between the Chinese government and Siew's delegation was the focal
of local media attention as well. New York Yankees' Taiwan pitcher
Wang Chien-ming pitched a two-hit complete game to lead the New York
Yankees to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on
Friday, and this received extensive coverage in local media over the
weekend.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
"China Times" urged both Taiwan and China to take a pragmatic
attitude in cross-Strait relations. An opinion piece in the "United
Daily News" said the model of Siew and Hu's meeting should set a
precedent in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum this
year. An editorial in "Apple Daily" criticized both the Blue and
the Green camps for having wrong perspectives on the Siew-Hu
meeting. A column in "Apple Daily" said the United States was
watching closely at the meeting and welcomed the new tone of
U.S.-China-Taiwan relations after Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian
steps down. A commentary in "Apple Daily" said that the United
States must have mixed feelings when seeing that the new KMT
government is leaning towards China. End summary.

A) "Let the Pragmatic and Win-Win Return and Become the Main Shaft
in the Cross-Strait Thought"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (4/14):

"... If the 'pursuit of win-win' that [Taiwan's Vice
President-elect] Vincent Siew advocated and the 'joint creation of
win-win' that [Chinese President] Hu Jintao replied [to Siew] can be
used as a footnote of this Siew-Hu summit, maybe we can
optimistically expect that both sides across the Taiwan Strait enter
a 'pragmatic' generation, which will start in the second half of
this year. Negotiations regarding functional and technical issues
will become leading issues in the interaction across the Taiwan
Strait in the coming years. Whether there will be more creative
breakthroughs in issues which are thornier, such as the World Health
Assembly and APEC, will be a test of the benign interaction between
two sides across the Taiwan Strait in the next stage. ..."

B) "Boao Can; No Reason APEC Cannot"

Chen Chien-chung, a researcher in the National Policy Foundation,
opined in the pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation:
400,000] (4/14):

" ... The biggest achievement of Siew and Hu's meeting is the
reciprocal model of the direct contact of the highest-level leaders
between two sides across the Taiwan Strait, instead of concrete
measures such as opening charter and direct flights across the
Taiwan Strait and opening [Taiwan] to Mainland tourists. The
Beijing authorities' various creative and benign arrangements for
Siew have created a new space for dealing with meetings between
high-level officials of both sides across the Strait. Although the
Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is an economic forum held by China, the
model of Siew and Hu's meeting will set an example for the APEC held
in September. If Boao can, there is no reason that APEC cannot. If
the Beijing authorities are willing to go a step further by using
the Boao model in several international organizations such as APEC,
the rift between Taiwan and China, which is a politically lukewarm
and economically warm rift, will be bridged at a certain level.
..."

C) "A Deviation on the Meeting between Siew and Hu"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (4/14):

"... Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties have several biases on
the cross-Strait meeting [between Siew and Hu]. The KMT and the
Blue camp generally think that Taiwan's economy is in a difficult
position. It is necessary to open economic and trade relations with
China to rescue Taiwan's economy, otherwise [Taiwan's economy] will
be at a dead end. As a result, it is Taiwan that has requests for
China. The DPP and the Green camp think that talking about economic
and trade issues with China is like asking a tiger for its skin.
China will utilize commercial issues to besiege political [issues]
or nibble up and annex Taiwan's sovereignty just like slurping down
a frog.

"The Blue camp's perspectives are wrong. Frankly speaking, if China
does not need Taiwan, why does China talk with Taiwan? [China's]
long-term goal is definitely unification, but its mid-term goal is
to improve relations with Taiwan and break the United States'
strategic blockage. [China's] short-term goal is to divert the
international community's concerns on the Tibet issue and improve

its international image for the sake of successfully holding the
Olympic Games. Moreover, unobstructed economic and trade relations
with Taiwan will be a great advantage to China's economy.

"The Green camp's perspectives are ill-judged as well. [Taiwan's
President-elect] Ma Ying-jeou has vowed not to talk about
unification with China. Also, it needs to go through referendum
procedures regarding Taiwan's unification [with China] or
independence. It will be extremely difficult to either sell out
Taiwan [to China] or unify [with China]. Taiwan's sovereignty
awareness has been very difficult to shake, so what is there to
worry about? Opening Taiwan to Mainland tourists is fair to Taiwan,
and why to reject it? Taiwan's tourists and expenses in China in
recent many years have been an enormous figure. Why is it wrong to
let [Chinese tourists] contribute to Taiwan in return?

"We support the model of Siew and Hu's meeting and hope this is the
outset of a win-win [situation]."

D) "The Calabash of the Meeting between Siew and Hu"
[Ed. Note: refers to a legendary immortal who kept mysterious
remedies hidden inside a hollow-out calabash (gourd).]
Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (4/14):

"... However, every bit of this [the meeting between Siew and Hu]
has been under the United States' close watch. The United States
had already known the arrangement. After the meeting, the KMT and
Beijing will simultaneously brief Washington. The tune of
U.S.-China-Taiwan relations after the A-Bian administration will be
re-set."

E) "The Thaw across the Taiwan Strait Needs to be Evaluated Slowly"

Lu I-ming, former publisher of the Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News,
opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
(4/14):

"... Although the United States said on the surface that it is happy
to see the 'Siew-Hu meeting', it must have a mixed feeling in its
heart. That is because the incoming KMT government is regarded by
international media as having 'pro-China' tendencies. Once the two
sides across the Taiwan Strait open the three links and enter into a
cooperative frontier of mutual trust, mutual consideration, mutual
help, and mutual benefit, [Taiwan's] arms purchase from the United
States will gradually decrease, for example. How
'U.S.-China-Taiwan-Japan' relations evolve in the future will be the
real focus of the international community!

"The United States certainly knows that China's missile deployment
not only targets Taiwan but also poses threat to its homeland.
Furthermore, the military budget of the Chinese Communists is almost
a google, and even Japan is afraid of it. Several politicians and
academics have been worried that China will enjoy giving some
sweeteners to the incoming KMT government. As a result, the Ma-Siew
team has to reinforce its cooperation with the DPP to hold the
bargaining chips and backup when negotiating with China and as a
result fulfill the maintenance of Taiwan's rights."

YOUNG

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