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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

VZCZCXYZ0015
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0654/01 1330941
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120941Z MAY 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8902
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8255
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9498

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000654

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.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage May 10-12 on the continuing investigation into Taiwan's
Papua New Guinea diplomatic fund scandal; on the sudden death of
Taiwan's Interior Minister-designate Liao Fung-te; and on the lineup
of Taiwan's President-elect Ma Ying-jeou's national security team.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" urged Ma to continue arms procurement
from the United States. A column in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" implied that the United States in fact has a role in
contributing to the diplomatic competition between Taiwan and China
in the South Pacific. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" asked Ma to think about whether a
'truce in diplomacy' with China is really pragmatic and urged Ma to
continue cultivating Taiwan's relations with Pacific island nations.
An op-ed in the pro-unification "United Daily News" gave several
recommendations to Ma's administration to bring about
all-dimensional economic and trade relations with Taiwan's major
trading partners. End Summary.

A) [Taiwan's President-elect] Ma [Ying-jeou] Should Procure Arms
[from the United States]

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (5/12):

"... The United States wants Ma to make good on his promises after
May 20 [inauguration day]. The first touchstone is [the sale] of
F-16 C/Ds [warplanes]. We hope that while Ma improves relations
with China, Ma will also reinforce the defense buildup and use arms
procurements to retain the United States. Reasonable arms
procurements will not only strengthen Taiwan's defense and make the
other side [China] not to use force hastily due to miscalculation,
but also reinforce the defense relationship with the United States
and deter China's intrusion. At the same time, [arms procurement]
is also an extremely important bargaining chip when [Taiwan]
negotiates with China on highly political issues, such as demanding
that China withdraw missiles [targeting Taiwan]. In other words,
arms procurement is not going to sabotage [the intention] to improve
relations with China, which is a dialectical relationship. Instead,
giving up building the military will weaken defense, alienate the
United States, and allow China to demand everything from Taiwan. Ma
should clarify Taiwan's grand strategy and do things that are in
accordance with the highest-level national interests and security.
This is also a President's highest obligation, isn't it?"

B) "Not Only Dollar Diplomacy Has to Be Changed"

Jou Yi-cheng, a member of Taiwan's Third Society Party, wrote in the
column "Idea Base" of the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 400,000] (5/12):

"... For Taiwan, island nations in the South Pacific are probably
targets for establishing diplomatic ties, as they have lower
populations and [come] with a relative cheap price. But for the
United States, a global hegemon in an age of sea power, [the Pacific
island nations] are the front where two major powers, the United
States and China, a new sea power transformed from a land power,
compete intensely.

"After the breakout of [Taiwan's] Papua New Guinea diplomatic fund
scandal, Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Michael
Hayden pointed out in a recent speech that China has spent US$370
million to lure away Pacific islands. That is right. China and the
United States have been competing for natural resources and
strategic deployment in the South Pacific. Countries that have
military forces in the South Pacific, such as the Papua New Guinea,
Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu, all receive China's military aid.
Therefore, the competition of dollar diplomacy between Taiwan and
China in the South Pacific is not only an issue between Taiwan and
China; instead, it is a triangular relationship among Taiwan, the
United States, and China.

"The best example is Kiribati, a country much smaller than Papua New
Guinea. Starting in 1997, China established a satellite tracking
station [there]. The satellite tracking station enabled China to
observe the United States' test of its missile defense system and
became an arena of the wrestling between China and the United
States. In 2003, Kiribati established diplomatic ties with Taiwan
and severed ties with China. The satellite tracking station was
ripped out. China was forced to find other islands in the South
Pacific Ocean to establish satellite tracking stations.

"This explains the implication of the competition for diplomatic
ties in the South Pacific between Taiwan and China. Taiwan helps
the United States exclude the interference of Chinese influence in
specific strategic points in the South Pacific. It is not a mistake
that Taiwan supports the United States to have a role in Asia's

security system. However, [the consideration] whether we should
devote ourselves unscrupulously and without any reservation in every
point should be based on Taiwan-centric interests. ..."

C) "[Taiwan's President-elect] Ma [Ying-jeou] Must Keep 'Pacific'
Policy"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (5/12):

"... Now, Ma apparently plans to place all of his government's bets
on the improvement of cross-Strait relations to maintain Taiwan's
international space, but crucial questions, such as whether the PRC
leaders themselves want a diplomatic cease-fire and what would be
the cost of such a 'truce,' remain unanswered.

"Domestic media have reported that Ma aims to make his first state
visits as president to Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America
in August with stopovers in New York City or even Washington D.C.

"If so, it will be interesting to see whether Beijing will cease its
uninterrupted practice of pressuring Washington to deny such
high-profile transit stops and how Ma reacts to any attempts by the
PRC to block the trip or even deliver humiliation to the Taiwan
president en route, as the PRC regularly did to [Taiwan's President]
Chen [Shui-bian].

"Improving cross-Strait ties can of course be a possible route to
persuade Beijing to ease its suppression of Taiwan's international
space, but we urge the new KMT government not to bet all of our
diplomatic resources and prospects on such wishful thinking. ..."

D) "All-dimensional Economy and Trade; Framing the Cross-Strait
Agreement First"

Tsai Horng-ming, the Deputy Secretary-General of Taiwan's Chinese
National Federation of Industries, opined in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (5/12):

"In a speech delivered at the first annual session of 'the Republic
of China Association of international Relations [on Saturday],'
[Taiwan's] President-elect Ma Ying-jeou pointed out that he hopes to
sign free trade agreements or similar arrangements with our major
trade partners. Owing to the scope of an 'all-dimensional
negotiation' that Ma proposed covers Mainland [China], the United
States, Southeast Asia, Japan, [South] Korea, and India, it shows
that [Ma's] strategy of foreign economic and trade development hopes
to establish an 'all-dimensional economic and trade networks'
instead of leaning towards China in a one-way direction.

"However, it is worthy to discuss how clearly to arrive at enough
'economic inducements' to [our] economic partners and at the same
time overcome the obstacle facing the 'Chinese factor' when trying
to sign free trade agreements with other countries.

"First, with regard to 'the economic inducement', take the free
trade agreement with the United States for example: Taiwan can
proactively plan the ultimate goals of the free trade agreement
between Taiwan and the United States and the market interests [that
benefit] United States businesses. [Taiwan's] new government should
negotiate continuously with the United States the framework of trade
and investment. [Taiwan's new government] also [needs to] propose
mid- to long-term plans for liberalizing trade and investment, and
make sure that by clearing away the hindrance of [issues such as]
rice, pharmaceutical, and intellectual property rights, Taiwan can
demonstrate its resolve to fulfill the 'comprehensive
liberalization' of trade and investment by showing a timeline and a
roadmap. ..."

YOUNG

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