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Cablegate: Media Reaction: President Ma Ying-Jeou's Inaugural Speech

R 221012Z MAY 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8988
INFO AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMCONSUL HONG KONG

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000714

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: PRESIDENT MA YING-JEOU'S INAUGURAL SPEECH

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language papers focused their May
22 news coverage on President Ma Ying-jeou's first international
press conference Wednesday, in which Ma defined the party-to-party
talks between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a
"second-track" dialogue; on new DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen and how
she is going to lead her party; on the new Cabinet's plan to raise
gasoline prices and increase electricity charges; and on the
controversy over whether a KMT legislator still retains U.S.
citizenship. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed
piece in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed new problems
arising from improved U.S.-China-Taiwan relations. The article said
the chances are slim for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to unify,
but the trend of the times is that, in terms of trade and economics,
Taiwan will integrate with China and eventually with the entire East
Asian region, and it remains to be seen how the three sides will
interact with each other. End summary.

"New, Difficult Problems Amidst Guarded Optimism for
Taipei-Washington-China [Relations]"

Professor Edward Chen of Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of
American Studies opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (5/22):

"... President Ma said [he] wants to strengthen cooperative
relations with the United States, [Taiwan's] security ally and
trading partner, and he will rationalize the island's defense budget
and acquire necessary defensive weaponry. He also said he will
resume dialogue with mainland China on the basis of the '1992
Consensus.' All of these remarks will, without a doubt, make
Washington feel relieved. The KMT, when serving as the main
opposition party previously, used to oppose the high-priced arms
procurement package. Likewise, the United States, out of political
concerns, was also opposed to selling F-16 C/D fighter jets to
Taiwan, does not support Taiwan's development of Hsiung Feng-IIE
cruise missiles, and has been hesitant about selling submarines to
Taiwan. But times have changed. Will the Ma administration and the
Bush administration each have new considerations [with regard to
arms procurements], particularly after Taiwan and the United States
have recovered their mutual trust?

"In the face of China's military edge, how is Taiwan able to build a
solid defense crack force if it does not develop it by itself or
purchase certain necessary defensive weapons? How will it be able
to have the confidence to negotiate with Beijing? Obviously, when
it comes to what and which are necessary defensive weapons, there
are many differences between Taiwan and the United States that
remain to be resolved. In his inaugural speech, Ma did not say a
word about signing a free trade agreement between Taiwan and the
United States. Similarly, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John
Negroponte did not mention any such agreement during a recent
hearing at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It appears
that both Taipei and Washington have yet to reach a consensus on
this issue. But the question is: Given that the Bush
Administration is unwilling to set an example by signing a free
trade agreement with Taipei, how can Taipei possibly expect Beijing
to be willing to allow ASEAN to negotiate with Taiwan over a similar
agreement? ...

"Using Cold War thinking, Washington is concerned that unification
between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will be unfavorable for
the United States' national and strategic interests. But judging
from the perspective of post-Cold War thinking, with the two great
powers -- the United States and China -- standing next to each
other, chances are slim for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to
unify. But the trend of the times is that, in terms of trade and
economics, Taiwan will integrate with China and eventually with the
entire East Asian region. It is noteworthy as to how the three
sides will interact to face such a trend."

WANG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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