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

VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0517/01 1060902
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150902Z APR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8681
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8162
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9398

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000517

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

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
April 15 news coverage on President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's
announcement of his appointment of KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kung
as the new Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman; on Ma's
comments on current developments in cross-Strait relations after
Vice President-elect Vincent Siew's meeting with Chinese President
Hu Jintao over the weekend; and on various reactions to Taiwan's
proposed opening of charter flights, tourism from the Mainland, and
Chinese yuan currency exchange starting in July at the earliest.


2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" criticized Vice President-elect
Vincent Siew's trip to the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) as a failure
and slammed President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's for his haste to improve
cross-Strait relations. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" said that whether China intends to
mend cross-Strait relations can only be revealed after Ma and Siew
are inaugurated. An op-ed in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
took the example of Siew's meeting with Hu to shed light on the
issue of Ma's wish to visit the United States. End summary.

3. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "Watch Out! The Boy [next to the Boss] Has Pulled a Drill out of
His Pocket"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (4/15):

"... The Boao Forum for Asia's appearance on the stage after
Taiwan's presidential election is an extremely good touchstone,
which provides the Taiwan people an opportunity publicly to see
whether there is room for the existence of 'one China with
respective interpretations' for both sides across the Taiwan Strait.
The facts show that [the] 'one China' [formulation] appeared in a
news release of China's Ministry of Commerce. [Taiwan's Vice
President-elect Vincent] Siew's delegation did not mention [one
China with] respective interpretations during the whole trip or
confirm with [Chinese President] Hu [Jintao] the connotations of the
1992 consensus. The so-called 'two sides across the Taiwan Strait
recognizing that both parties have different definitions of one
China' is unable to stand the test. ...

"Therefore, Quasi-President Ma [Ying-jeou] claimed yesterday that
since three parties out of four among the United States, China,
Taiwan (the DPP and the KMT) have confirmed the '1992 consensus,
which is one China with respective interpretations,' it is therefore
unnecessary to mention it every time, because the foundation of
cross-Strait interaction has been established. This is an illusion
of self-comfort. From now on, if [Ma wants] cross-Strait relations
to progress far and with stability, [he] should not act like an
ostrich who is 'afraid of interpreting one China' and cast a mist on
the precision and direction of policy-making. ..."

B) "How Deep Are Hu's 'Deep' Thoughts?"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (4/15):

"What will truly reveal [Chinese President] Hu [Jintao]'s intent or
the depth of his 'deep' thought will be how he treats Siew and other
elected Taiwanese officials, including President-elect Ma Ying-jeou,
once they assume office and can no longer pretend to meet officials
from other countries as heads of NGOs. Only then will we be able to
see if the KMT win in the presidential election truly brought about
a departure in Sino-Taiwanese relations and in Hu's stance on
Taiwan. ...

"As an official who has yet to begin office, [Taiwan's Vice
President-elect Vincent] Siew still has more freedom of action than
he will have a little more than a month from now. After he and Ma
replace the Democratic Progressive Party administration on May 20,
they will know again that in a democracy, power comes with
responsibilities and that the public will hold them to account - and
significantly more than heads of NGOs and non-elected officials.

"As a result, their actions and rhetoric will increasingly reflect
the aspirations of the public, and what they are bound to say is
unlikely to resonate with Beijing.

"Conversely, if they fail to do that and fail to fine-tune their
behavior to reflect the expectations of those who elected them,
their stay in office could be a short one indeed. ..."

4. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

"Have a Look at Ma Ying-jeou's Visit to the United States from the

RELATIONS

Siew-Hu Meeting"

Edward Chen, a professor at the Graduate Institute of American
Studies in Taiwan's Tamkang University and currently a visiting
fellow at the University of Chicago, opined in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (4/15):

"... Why on earth is the United States overcautious on [Taiwan's
President-elect] Ma [Ying-jeou]'s visit to the United States? Is
[the United States] afraid of setting a precedent? Regarding visits
by our country's highest leader [to the United States], the United
States has decided [these] on a case-by-case basis.

"Therefore, it was arranged for [former Taiwan President] Lee
Teng-hui to visit Cornell University in Syracuse in New York State.
[Taiwan's President] Chen Shui-bian could have a high-profile
transit stop in New York City. Chen also had rather had a 'journey
to nowhere [in 2006]' and rejected the arrangement of having a
transit stop in Alaska. In fact, instead of worrying about setting
a precedent which our country's president-elect will take and visit
the United States before his inauguration, why does the United
States not take this opportunity to allow Ma's visiting the United
States to set a precedent, by which Washington only allows a Taiwan
president-elect who respects and harmonizes with the United States'
interests visit the United States before inauguration.

"[Taiwan's Vice President-elect Vincent] Siew has successfully
spoken to the world on behalf of Taiwan through his meeting with
[Chinese President] Hu [Jintao] and his participation in the Boao
Forum for Asia. If Ma steps on Japan's territory before his
inauguration, it is not unlikely that the United States will become
an 'outsider' during the improvement of cross-Strait relations and
the integration of the East Asian economy.

"The biggest problem for the Bush administration is that, even
though the United States encourages the resumption of dialogue
between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait itself, Washington does
not know how to face the reality once cross-Strait relations
improve. Undoubtedly, Ma's mainland policy after he assumes office
will more or less create an impact on U.S. interests in Taiwan and
the Asia-Pacific region. But since Washington has no intention and
cannot possibly stop positive interactions between the two sides of
the Taiwan Strait, it should work proactively to play its role well
and not just wait hesitantly and be dictated to by the bureaucracy
and the Cold War-thinking of the State Department. In particular,
that is a 'just taking without giving' approach and not a good way
to treat a friend when [Washington] just used words like 'expecting'
and 'suggesting' while not agreeing to Ma's visit to the United
States."

YOUNG

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