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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations; the Cross-Strait

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0580/01 1190903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280903Z APR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8770
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8200
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9441

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000580

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: U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS; THE CROSS-STRAIT
RELATIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage April 26-28 on the amendment to Taiwan's Labor Standards
Law; on the search for eight missing scuba divers in waters off
southern Taiwan; and on the unexpected appointment of former Taiwan
Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan as the chairperson of
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a commentary in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" commented on speculation that Andrew
Card will lead the United States delegation to Taiwan's
President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration and urged Ma's team to
seize the opportunity to communicate with Card. With the early
disclosure that former Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai
Shin-yuan will be the chairperson of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs
Council, the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times," the
pro-unification "United Daily News," and the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" all have analyses on Lai's appointment and question
Ma's decision and his motivation. End summary.

3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

"Who Will Represent the United States to Attend [Taiwan's
President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's] Inauguration?"

Edward I-hsin 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] (4/28):

"... What's more important is that once the leader of the United
States Delegation to Ma's inauguration [former White House Chief of
Staff Andrew Card] comes, how will we seize the opportunity to
communicate with him?

"This time, if [United States President George W.] Bush sends Card
to lead the delegation, based on Washington's high degree of
acceptance of Ma after mutual trust between Taiwan and the United
States has been reduced during the last eight years of the DPP's
governance, the United States certainly expects to send its good
will to the new government and improve mutual relations.

"Moreover, being Bush's long-term good friend, Card has been dealing
with Taiwan affairs behind the scenes and must be able to exchange
ideas with Ma in various aspects. Ma's team for national security
should be well prepared and pragmatically propose our country's
requests and the direction of cooperation between both countries
[Taiwan and the United States] in the future and provide concrete
advice."

4. Cross-Strait Relations

A) Lai Shin-yuan of Ma [Ying-jeou]'s Government vs. Lai Shin-yuan of
Taiwan Independence; with the Presidential Office on the Top, Chiang
Pin-kun on the Bottom; Lee Teng-hui on the Left and Lien Chan on the
Right, Lai Faces Tough Challenges"

Journalists Lin Ting-yao and Hsiao Hsu-tsen analyzed in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (4/28):

"[Taiwan's President-elect] Ma Ying-jeou borrowed talent from
[former Taiwan's President] Lee Teng-hui, appointing appointed Lai
Shin-yuan to be the Chairperson of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs
Council. This means that Ma wants to set the role and position that
Taiwan will play in future U.S.-China-Taiwan relations. This is
probably Ma's new government's most signaled cabinet appointment and
the most crucial appointment for cross-Strait relations in the
future. ...

"The 'China craze' in the KMT recently has produced a 'many-headed
wagon' [Ed. Note: this expression refers to a wagon with a team of
horses that pulls in many different directions]. If Ma does not do
something, cross-Strait policy in the future will be 'everyone
[dancing to] his own tune.' Therefore, the appointment of Lai is a
warning by Ma to the KMT that 'cross-Strait policy has to listen to
me!'

"Ma's decision to pick Lai is good chess and also dangerous chess.
Regardless of Lai's [hardline] positions [vis-a-vis China] in the
past, from the system of cross-Strait policy-making, there are many
figures who are familiar with [the cross-Strait policy-making] in
the KMT. Ma himself was once the Chairman of Taiwan's Mainland
Affairs Council. Vice President-to-be Vincent Siew has been
studying cross-Strait economic and trade issues for a long time.
The chairman-designate of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF)
Chiang Pin-kun, who has to follow orders from the Mainland Affairs
Council, is a key figure [in the establishment] of the platform
between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party in the past and has
high-level experience in politics. It will be very difficult for

Lai to integrate and coordinate the various departments. Not to
mention that the 'KMT-CCP platform,' which is outside the [formal]
structure, is quite favored by the Chinese Communists. [KMT
Honorary Chairman] Lien Chan does will not necessarily listen to
what Lai says. ...

"Of course, there are risks and gains in Ma's [playing this] unusual
card. At least for cross-Strait policy in the future, with Lai to
guard the front, there will be a 'balance of power' regarding the
resumption of talks between Taiwan's SEF and China's Association for
Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) or the KMT-CCP platform
and prevent Taiwan from tilting too much towards China. This could
be an explanation to the Green camp's 5.44 million of voters, which
is a political arrangement that Ma has planned carefully."

B) "Melting the Ice across the Strait? [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma
[Ying-jeou] Uses Lai [Shin-yuan] as Dangerous Chess"

Journalist Lee Ming-hsien analyzed in the pro-unification "United
Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (4/28):

"The central focus of Ma's and [Taiwan's Vice President-elect
Vincent] Siew's governance is [improving Taiwan's] economy. The
first key to improving the economy is cross-Strait relations. But
the loosening and tightening of cross-Strait policy is not in our
control. Also, while senior officials in the Blue camp visit China
on an intensive schedule, the appointment of Lai has the effect of
cooling the overheating cross-Strait policy, just as Siew said that
'there will be a flood if the iceberg melts too fast.' However, Lai
and her backer [former Taiwan's President] Lee Teng-hui have strong
tendencies toward Taiwan independence. Whether this vigorous tonic
delays the speed of melting of the cross-Strait iceberg or even
[causes it to] 'freeze again' remains to be seen. ...

"Precisely speaking, Lai insists on Taiwan's sovereignty. In the
resumption of negotiations between both sides across the Strait,
while Chiang [Pin-kun, Chairman-designate of Taiwan's Straits
Exchange Foundation (SEF)] and Lai will be in control of the SEF and
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Ma's camp hopes both Lai
and Chiang, a hawk and a dove [respectively], could restrain each
other and fully interpret Ma and Siew's cross-Strait policy in
between advancement and retreat. By achieving balance between
'guarding Taiwan's interests' and 'creating a way out for Taiwan,'
it will never be a zero-sum game between the two sides across the
Strait.

"However, the MAC is the decision-making institute and has to take
responsibility for coordinating and integrating across departments.
Both Chiang and the Secretary-General-designate of Taiwan's National
Security Council Su Chi have access to the president. A wrestling
match among three sides will probably result in orders coming from
different departments. Based on Chiang and other KMT figures'
experiences and high profiles, which are something Lai cannot
compete with, it is feared that the MAC will not be able to guide
the SEF at all. The war between the SEF and the MAC will likely be
onstage again and be disadvantageous to the arrangement of
cross-Strait policy."

C) "Deep Green Entering the Blue Cabinet, Big Challenges for Lai
[Shin-yuan] to Accommodate"

Journalist Lee Hsin-fang analyzed in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" [circulation: 720,000] (4/28):

"Lai has been regarded as former Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui's
disciple. As we all know, Lee, who advocated the policy of 'no
haste, be patient' during his governance, objects to the pan-Blue's
China craze. Lee has reiterated that there is no 1992 consensus
between two sides across the Strait. [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma
[Ying-jeou] advocates one China with respective interpretations and
recognizes the 1992 consensus. How Lai deals with the controversy
over the 1992 consensus in the future will be the first challenge
for her. ..."

D) "[Taiwan's President-elect] Ma [Ying-jeou]'s Insistence on
Dangerous Chess; the Backlash inside the [KMT] Party Will be Hard to
Predict"

Journalist Wang Yu-chung analyzed in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" [circulation: 720,000] (4/28):

"... [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma Ying-jeou uses [former Taiwan's
President] Lee Teng-hui's person to take charge of Taiwan's Straits
Exchange Foundation (SEF) [sic - she's actually slated for the
Mainland Affairs Council], there must be a point among Ma, Lee and
Lai's cross-Strait policy advocacy that coincides. Especially, Lee
emphasizes that Taiwan has been a country with independent
sovereignty. Ma and Lee should have a consensus that the

three-links negotiation has to be undertaken under the maintenance
of the status-quo and to secure Taiwan's sovereignty to take care of
Taiwan's ultimate interests. Also, Lai advocates that cross-Strait
negotiations have to be undertaken under the framework of the World
Trade Organization (WTO), which is consistent with Ma's position.
With Lai to take charge of the SEF [sic], 'Old Lee' has come back.

"But Ma's arrangement is still filled with dangers. Ma continues
his moves, and the [KMT] party has to suffer silently. Now that
[Ma] is to use Lee's person, discontent inside the party will break
out sooner or later. How it will be dealt with remains to be seen.
The KMT Central, the Legislative Yuan, and [KMT Honorary Chairman]
Lien Chan's people will question whether Lai will recognize the five
prospects achieved between [KMT Honorary Chairman] Lien Chan and
[Chinese President] Hu Jintao and the KMT's party platform on
cross-Strait policy. ... [S]ooner or later Ma will have to have to
have a showdown with the [KMT] party over strained relations."

YOUNG

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