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


DE RUEHIN #0725/01 1481022
R 271022Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused May
24-27 news coverage on KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung's visit to China
Monday and the new developments in cross-Strait relations, on the
controversy over whether a KMT legislator still retains U.S.
citizenship, on the soaring commodity prices in Taiwan, and on the
Basic Competency Test for Taiwan junior high school students.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" criticized the Ma Ying-jeou
administration and the KMT for anxiously pushing for cross-Strait
talks. The article said the Ma administration is walking voluntarily
into China's trap and is therefore putting Taiwan's sovereignty in
danger. An op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times," written by Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum
affiliated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies,
urged Beijing to make some significant gestures in response to
President Ma's call for "reconciliation and truce" between the two
sides of the Taiwan Strait. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News," however, said Ma's peace offer will
lock Taiwan into an "iron cage," which will gradually take the power
out of the Taiwan people's hands to determine their own future. An
editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News" discussed the
historical significance of KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung's upcoming
meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and described it as the
best "historical opportunity" for both sides to create a win-win
situation. In terms of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's recent
visit to Beijing, an editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" predicted that a new Cold War could
soon begin unless the United States, Russia and China sit down and
talk. End summary.

3. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "The New Administration Voluntarily Walks into China's Trap;
Taiwan's Sovereignty Meets with Disaster"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000]
editorialized (5/27):

"... Evidently, the 'new era' advocated by President Ma did not
refer to consolidating Taiwan's democracy and sovereignty, and
instead, it denoted the beginning of Taiwan being ultimately unified
by China. Ever since Ma was elected, Beijing has been insisting on
using the '1992 Consensus,' which offers no room for 'respective
interpretation,' as the basis for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to
resume dialogue. Still, the new [Ma] administration and the KMT are
keen on walking to the negotiation table daringly, a move which is
akin to abandoning [Taiwan's] own position and yielding to the
conditions set by China. The so-called 'putting aside
controversies' has turned out to be putting aside Taiwan's
sovereignty. Such a political direction runs entirely counter to
Ma's campaign statement, in which he said he was running for the
presidency of a sovereign nation. ...

"There are two reasons why the new [Ma] administration and the KMT
have been behaving so anxiously [in pushing for cross-Strait talks]:
First, their ideology. They do not recognize the sovereign nation
constituted by the 23 million people [of Taiwan]. They only
recognize one China and that Taiwan is part of China. Second, the
check Ma and the KMT wrote regarding starting direct charter flights
across the Taiwan Strait and allowing Chinese tourists to Taiwan
beginning in July was akin to tying a rope around Taiwan's neck and
handing the other end over to China; talking about the 1992
Consensus only without mentioning one China with respective
interpretations will thoroughly obliterate the essence of
sovereignty for Taiwan or the Republic of China. ...

"More serious is that the second-track [dialogue] established by the
KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will allow China to employ
a double-dealing strategy, taking advantage of the KMT-CCP platform
to place pressure on the new [Ma] administration. That is, from
Lien Chan to Wu Poh-hsiung, [all KMT officials] will become the
targets whom China wants to win over. It is imaginable that the
political consensuses reached by the Lien-Hu meeting and Wu-Hu
meeting will form a kind of pressure such that political parties
will dictate the policies, a way that will force the new [Ma]
administration to make more substantive concessions to China and for
Taiwan to give up more of its leverage. It can be said that this is
a trap set up by China to 'hurry the horses into the stable.' In
this vein, there will be an irreversible trend of Taiwan being
tilted toward China for the next four years..."

B) "Beijing Must Offer an Olive Branch"

Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum of the Center for
Strategic and International Studies, and senior editor of
Comparative Connections, a quarterly electronic journal, opined in
the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:

30,000] (5/25):

"... It should be relatively easy for Beijing to respond positively
to Ma's calls for direct weekend charter flights and visits to
Taiwan by Chinese tourists and other economic and cultural
exchanges. Some security gesture, such as a visible drawback of
missiles opposite Taiwan, is also doable without dramatically
changing the security calculus. But, is Beijing prepared to make
significant gestures aimed at truly improving Taiwan's sense of
security and easing its international isolation?
A failure by Beijing to respond positively to Ma's olive branches
will seriously undercut the new Taiwanese leader as he tries to
build consensus at home in support of his forward-looking
cross-Strait policies. His address is already being labeled by the
opposition as 'nave' and 'wishful thinking.' Will Beijing prove
this to be the case? ...

"It appears that Beijing is still struggling to figure out how to
deal with a potentially friendly government in Taipei after years of
branding every positive gesture by the Chen administration a mere
'splittist trick.' ... It is important for Beijing not to wait too
long before making some significant gestures. For starters, it can
observe Ma's call for a 'truce' in the international arena. ...
Ma took a big political risk in reaching out to Beijing. Beijing
needs to respond. Washington also needs to respond to Ma's gestures,
while strongly encouraging Beijing to make significant positive

C) "Ma's 'Peace' Offers Iron Cage"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (5/27):

"... Ma's slogans of 'one China, separate verbal expressions' and
'no unification, no independence and no force' and his unilateral
acceptance of the 'ethno-nationalist' proposition that the Taiwan
people 'belong to the Chinese nation' reflect a fundamental shift in
Taiwan's political paradigm. ...
Ultimately, Ma's attempt to realize 'peace through integration'
threatens to lock Taiwan into an "iron cage" that will gradually
take the power to determine our right to determine the shape of our
way of life and its core values out of our hands. Whether this grim
prospect is inevitable will depend on no one else but us and our
resolve to defending the right of Taiwan people to act as 'masters
of our own home.'"

D) "The Historical Significance of the First Meeting between Leaders
of the Ruling Parties of Both Sides of the Taiwan Strait"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (5/26):

"KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung set out for his visit to China today and
will meet with General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
(CPC) Central Committee Hu Jintao the day after tomorrow. This is
the first meeting between leaders of the ruling parties of both
sides of the Taiwan Strait, which is of great significance. ... Wu
is the Chairman of the KMT, the ruling party of the Republic of
China. This is a political reality from which Hu did not shrink
when he personally invited Wu to visit China. However, since Hu has
accepted [the reality that] Wu is 'the KMT Chairman,' it certainly
and definitely implies that [Hu] at the same time acquiesces to the
fact that the Republic of China is ruled by the KMT. After all, if
there is no Republic of China, how can Wu possibly be the chairman
of the ROC's ruling party? ...

"Therefore, we hope that the 'Wu-Hu meeting' between leaders of the
ruling parties of both sides of the Strait share the common goal of
walking jointly on the road of democracy and bringing happiness to
their peoples. We also hope they will encourage each other and wish
one another well. [Both sides of the Taiwan Strait] should lower
the level of 'power struggle' as much as they can, and create, to
the greatest extent possible, an atmosphere of 'healthy competition'
and 'cooperation' ..."

4. U.S.-China-Russia Relations

"Beijing's New (Old) Best Friend"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (5/27):

"... Similar fears appear to be animating two countries today: China
and Russia. No historical friends (despite a fleetingly shared
ideology) and long haunted by border disputes, Moscow and Beijing
are being pushed into the same corner by policies of the US and its
regional allies. Whether their reading of Washington's true
intentions is accurate or not remains to be seen, but one thing is

sure - the two are weary and they are acting on it, epitomized in no
uncertain terms by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to
Beijing over the weekend. ... While it will be years, if not
decades, before an effective US defense system can be deployed,
China and Russia have already begun to adjust their policies and
respective militaries to counter what they perceive as an attempt by
the US to buttress its hegemonic power and thus allow it to dictate
its policies in a part of the world that, in their eyes, is more
theirs than Washington's.

"Rather than sit down with its counterparts in Beijing and Moscow
and find common ground on missile defense, Washington has acted in a
manner that has alienated its counterparts and managed to make two
unlikely allies shed their differences and join forces to
counterbalance the US. Furthermore, the failure to engage in
dialogue and the apprehensions that this gives rise to also
threatens to compel Beijing and Moscow to expand their newfound
friendship to include other countries - Iran comes to mind - that,
for one reason or another, are inimical to the US and the alliances
it leads. There are, at present, no signs that dialogue between the
two blocs will improve anytime soon. Secrecy, as the Cold War made
crystal clear, begets secrecy. Beijing's lack of transparency on
military matters - which has earned it no small amount of criticism
by Washington - has contributed to the very mistrust in Japan,
Taiwan and the US, among others, that makes the deployment of a
missile defense shield desirable. But this plan also gives rise to a
vicious circle in Russia and China, where the unclear intentions of
the US have prompted them to bolster their defenses in a bid to
countervail what they perceive as a threat to their sovereignties.

Unless the principal parties sit down and talk soon, a new Cold War
could soon begin in the east, with implications for all, not least


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