Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations


DE RUEHIN #0744/01 1510950
R 300950Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: On May 30, Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave
extensive coverage to the resumption of talks between Taiwan's
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for
Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), which are scheduled to
kick off on June 11. News coverage also focused on the various
incentives provided by the Cabinet to improve child and elderly care
and to reduce financial strain on the young and on poor people; and
also on the impact of the fuel price hike on the general public.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an analysis in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" criticized the Ma Ying-jeou
administration for voluntarily surrendering control over the
cross-Strait talks. The article urged the Ma administration to
first establish a Taiwan-centric awareness before it resumes talks
with Beijing. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" said the meeting between KMT
Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung and Chinese President Hu Jintao demonstrated
that China actually has the upper hand in cross-Strait negotiation.
An editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
said by using the term "Chinese nation" in the Wu-Hu meeting,
Taiwan's sovereignty has actually been compromised. An editorial in
the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times," however, focused on Hu's
remarks about proactively finding a viable way for Taiwan to join
the World Health Organization. The article said one can predict the
future course of cross-Strait relations by watching how both sides
work together "wisely" to resolve the question of Taiwan's
participation in the international community. End summary.

A) "Taiwan-Centric Values Must Be Firmly Established before Both
Sides of the Taiwan Strait Resume Talks"

Journalist Su Yong-yao noted in an analysis in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000] (5/30):

"... In addition to limiting the Taiwan government's role in
[cross-Strait] talks, Beijing also set out to define the topics it
wants to discuss. The content of the talks between the Straits
Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations across
the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) is primarily general issues such as direct
charter flights and Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan. But more
political issues, including Taiwan's participation in the
international community, were brought up during the meeting between
KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung and his Chinese Communist Party
counterpart Hu Jintao. China was not only in charge of dealing the
cards but was also able to decide whom it wants to deal with.

"It is mainly due to economic reasons that Taiwan is anxious to talk
[with Beijing]. But via the resumption of talks between SEF and
ARATS, China has worked out political strategies to either steer the
government [policies] via political parties or to use party and
government interchangeably. In July, the Ma administration may get
its long-awaited direct transportation links and Chinese tourists,
but it is also likely to lose its dominance in dictating the terms
of the talks. For the Ma administration, it is impractical and
nothing more than wishful thinking to focus simply on returning to
the model of talks between SEF and ARATS from the 1990s. In the
face of Beijing's [strategy to use] both the first and second tracks
[for cross-Strait talks], the top priority for the [Ma]
administration is to establish a new internal consensus among the
ruling and opposition parties as well as various industries in
Taiwan. Only when the Taiwan-centric awareness is firmly
established can Taiwan stand firm in future [cross-Strait] talks."

B) "Ma's Great Cross-Strait Giveaway"

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

"... As the SEF delegation is due in China in just under two weeks
to talk about and possibly sign a deal on charter flights and
Chinese tourists, one may be forgiven for wondering what the point
of Wu's trip really was. The simple answer is there was no point,
other than to give Beijing a fresh propaganda coup and soft-soap
Taiwanese and anyone else willing to pay attention into believing
that China has only good intentions. Why else would Hu dangle the
carrot of WHO participation as he did on Wednesday, and say things
like China 'cares about and respects' Taiwanese? Wu's hastily
arranged visit was China's way of showing Ma who's boss.

"Hu's shrewdness is not to be underestimated, as his cross-strait
machinations are far more sophisticated than the no-nonsense threats
of his predecessors. He is fully aware that Ma promised many things
- direct flights, Chinese tourists, enhanced international space and
a peace treaty - in his election campaign, all of which were
predicated on the goodwill of Beijing. ... Ma made it clear during
his inauguration speech that he is willing to compromise the
sovereignty of his beloved 'Republic of China' in the search for

short-term and questionable economic gain. For all of Beijing's
recent friendliness, it will be interesting to see how much Ma and
Taiwan really get in return."

C) "Wu Gives Taiwan Away to CCP's Hu"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (5/30):

"... The KMT-CCP consensus to enshrine the 'Chinese nation' as the
'final solution' has already surrendered Taiwan's sovereignty in
principle to the CCP; the role now earmarked for Taiwan's
democratically elected government and its 'authorized SEF is to
negotiate the concrete terms of surrender, including the provision
of face-saving 'carrots,' with the ARATS. The protest by Mainland
Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan yesterday that the 'track
two' KMT-CCP platform 'cannot override' the government authorized
SEF-ARARTS channel is doomed to futility because the PRC, which is
obviously the dominant partner in this asymmetrical political dance,
has placed primacy on 'party-to-party' negotiations and uses ARATS
only as its tool. ..."

D) "Both Sides of the Taiwan Strait Should Go All out to Use Their
Wisdom to Resolve Substantive Problems"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (5/30):

"... In addition to ensuring that both sides of the Taiwan Strait
will resume talks and implement direct charter flights and open
Taiwan to Chinese tourists as early as possible, the recent Wu-Hu
meeting has also directly addressed Taiwan's elbow room in the
international community, in particular, Taiwan's participation in
the World Health Organization (WHO). Previously when it came to
Taiwan's participation in the international community, it was always
Taiwan which cried out unilaterally, while Beijing either ignored it
or dealt with it in an ambiguous manner. But this time, Beijing
took the initiative in stating clearly that 'Taiwan's participation
in the WHO can take precedence and be discussed first' when
cross-Strait talks are formally launched. Beijing also indicated
that [both sides] 'should have the wisdom to identify viable ways'
to resolve the issue. Since these statements were made personally
by the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, its ground-breaking
significance naturally deserves close attention.

"As it stands, in terms of sensitive issues such as direct
transportation or opening Taiwan to Chinese tourists, as long as
neither side tries to find fault with them, what really remains to
talk about is nothing but technical matters. But Taiwan's
participation in the international community is a totally different
issue, which will certainly touch on the core subject of the
controversy over [Taiwan's] sovereignty. Previously, the Beijing
authorities had constantly adopted a tough zero-sum strategy [toward
Taiwan's sovereignty issue], and that was where most of the barriers
to cross-Strait reconciliation lie. Now that the Beijing
authorities are willing to negotiate [with Taiwan] about this issue
proactively, it is almost certain that by looking at how both sides
of the Taiwan Strait 'find a viable way' for Taiwan to 'wisely' join
the WHO, one will be able to observe future development in
cross-Strait relations. All the more, it will likely become a key
indicator to tell whether both sides will move further toward
positive and benign interaction. ..."


© Scoop Media

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