Cablegate: Media Reaction: New Thinking in Taiwan's Diplomacy


DE RUEHIN #0645/01 1300938
R 090938Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage May 9 on the latest development and investigation into
Taiwan's Papua New Guinea (PNG) diplomatic fund scandal, and AIT
Director Stephen Young's press conference. In terms of editorials
and commentaries, in light of the PNG fund scandal, there has been
public opinion urging that the Taiwan government adopt new and
pragmatic thinking to eliminate Taiwan's notorious "dollar
diplomacy." An op-ed in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
took the example of 'secret diplomacy' of the United States and
urged Taiwan's incoming government to change the old way of
conducting diplomacy. An editorial in the mass-circulation "Apple
Daily" recommends that Taiwan's new government focus its efforts on
cultivating relations with major countries, including the United
States, instead of wasting money and effort on diplomatic relations
that are instable. An op-ed in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" provided arguments regarding China's
mindset in limiting Taiwan's international space, and gave some
recommendations to Taiwan's new government. End summary.

A) "Brokers Bullying; Failure in Governance"

Liao Kun-jung, a political science professor and dean of the
Department of Political Science at Taiwan's National Chung Cheng
University, opined in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 400,000] (5/9):

"In fact, the United States as well is not short of experience in
secret diplomacy. For example, [former United States] President
Richard Nixon once sent [former United States] Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger to visit Beijing secretly and betrayed Taiwan
clandestinely. In order to fund the Nicaragua rebels, [former
United States] President Ronald Reagan once deceived [the United
States] Congress to conduct arms deals with Iran, which led to such
a political crisis that Reagan almost had to step down. The United
States' secret diplomacy basically walks on the edge of the law and
tries to avoid the supervision of the [United States] Congress or
the [scrutiny of the] media. However, when there is no supervision,
[secret diplomacy] definitely falls into the ethical pitfalls. This
kind of experience is not worth learning from.

"From 1971, after Taiwan withdrew from the United States, because of
the isolation in diplomacy, [Taiwan's] government is almost affected
with 'the illness of diplomatic isolation.' [It is because Taiwan]
follows the United States' every lead and goes astray without notice
that [Taiwan] has to establish diplomatic ties with countries in the
world, and has a general superstition that [Taiwan] can only have
international space by establishing diplomatic ties [with other
countries]. Every one of [Taiwan's] successive Ministers of Foreign
Affairs was forced to 'go all out in getting achievements by
establishing diplomatic ties.' No matter whether a country is big,
small, wealthy, poor, or even a small island, as long as [Taiwan]
can establish diplomatic ties with it, [Taiwan] will go all out to
pay out enormous amount of money and only stop when all the money is
spent. Sparing nothing financially to win diplomatic ties is
[Taiwan's] wrong [cognition], which holds that being able to
establish diplomatic ties is equivalent to having diplomacy and
represents achievements in foreign affairs. As a result, the first
priority that [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma [Ying-jeou] and
[Taiwan's Vice President-elect Vincent] Siew's upcoming
administration has to face after taking office is not how many
diplomatic ties with how many countries [Taiwan] can add; instead,
it is how [Taiwan] can beat the worry of the 'panic of diplomatic
isolation'? ..."

B) "Not Like Getting Married; More Like Being A Sugar Daddy" [The
original article satirizes that the way the Taiwan government
squanders money in diplomacy makes all Taiwan's taxpayers like a
sugar daddy]

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (5/9):

"... Concentrating diplomatic funds on cultivating relations with
the United States' ruling and opposition parties is the most
important [task]. The closer relation we [Taiwan] have with the
United States, the more difficult for China to bully Taiwan, or
especially invade Taiwan militarily. Furthermore, if Taiwan has
more bargaining chips when negotiating with China, there is greater
space [for Taiwan] to maneuver in. Taiwan can take advantage of the
relation between Taiwan and the Untied States as leverage to
constrain China; [Taiwan] might as well take the relation between
Taiwan and China as leverage to constrain the United States. Just
as the United States does not want the relation between Taiwan and
China to be too close, China does not want the relation between
Taiwan and the United States to be too close. These are where our
niches lie, and [we] can win for our national interests by playing
these two levers. This will cost a lot, so [we] should concentrate
finances instead of splitting our [financial] force to buy
diplomatic ties with small countries. Besides, it is also very

important to purchase relations with Europe and Japan to form
multiple poles composed of world powers in the international
community to protect Taiwan's security and interests. ..."

C) "Is Dollar Diplomacy Even Worth It?"

Huang Su-jen, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the
Department of Sociology at National Taipei University, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (5/9):

"... the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set a strategic limit on
the number of diplomatic allies it will allow Taiwan to retain. It
does not allow Taiwan to join the UN, forge diplomatic ties with big
countries, have more than about 20 diplomatic allies, or maintain
due dignity in the international community. However, Beijing hasn't
been in a rush to buy off all Taiwan's diplomatic allies either.

"No matter how much it suppresses Taiwan's international space,
China has left those 20 diplomatic allies or so untouched. In other
words, that is the number of Taiwanese allies China has decided it
can tolerate. ...

"However, if Beijing bought off all of Taiwan's diplomatic allies
and isolatd Taiwan totally, it might force a desperate Taipei to
make a reckless move and officially declare independence. China
would then have to resort to force to suppress the move toward
independence, leading to international intervention and maybe even
clashes between China and the US, striking a heavy blow to the
Chinese economy. ...

"However, if Taiwan manages to maintain diplomatic relations with a
few countries, it is not because Taiwan is wealthier than China or
because our diplomats are better, but because China has decided not
to compete with us. It is all a matter of China unilaterally
deciding whether or not it will allow Taiwan to keep some
international space.

"So why would we want to spend a large amount of money forging
futile diplomatic relations? Of course this does not mean that we
should refuse to provide assistance for deprived countries.

"A rich country like Taiwan should take on the responsibility of
assisting poor countries. But the purpose of assistance should be to
offer humanitarian assistance and build connections rather than to
buy diplomatic relations, because we can never win over China."


© Scoop Media

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