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

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0752/01 1540940
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020940Z JUN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9051
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8318
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9559

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000752

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, CROSS-STRAIT
RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language focused May 31-June 2
news coverage on various new developments in cross-Strait relations;
on DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen's interview with print media Sunday,
in which she expressed concern over the KMT's approach to handling
cross-Strait relations; and on Premier Liu Chao-shiuan's first
administrative report to the Legislature last Friday. The centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" front-paged a banner headline June 2 that
said "Beijing Authorities: Missiles Targeting Taiwan Will No Longer
Increase and Will Be Gradually Removed." The pro-unification
"United Daily News" also ran a news story on page four on June 1,
which quoted U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for East
Asian Affairs Dennis Wilder as saying Saturday that the United
States is not worried that cross-Strait relations will become too
intimate.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "China Times" weekly
column discussed the transition of power in Taiwan and its impact on
the future direction of cross-Strait relations. The article said
for the near future, the core of Washington's cross-Strait policy
will be to maintain a "dynamic" balance to ensure stability in the
entire Asia Pacific region. An editorial in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times," however, opined that the KMT's wishful thinking and
unilateral trust in Beijing will push Taiwan into an abyss. An
op-ed piece in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
also questioned whether President Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT are
tilting toward China. An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post," on the other hand,
said Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization will
serve as a litmus test for the future development of cross-Strait
relations. End summary.

3. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

"Change of the Ruling Political Party in Taiwan and Future Direction
of Cross-Strait Relations"

Huan Guocang, original partner to the Primus Pacific Partners
company (Hong Kong), commented in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] (6/2):

"... Beijing is now in an era in which it is facing no direct and
immediate security and military threats. Beijing is not a global
superpower; instead, it is a regional power with growing influence
on global affairs, and its fundamental security interests lie in the
Asia Pacific area. It appears that Beijing's basic security
strategy has been established in a relatively stable climate, in
which China's continuous economic growth and social stability can be
ensured, so that it can exercise its influence in international
affairs. For Beijing, over the past decade, the only possible
source of a major military conflict or even a war was cross-Strait
relations. An antagonistic cross-Strait relationship will not have
a significant impact on mainland China's political and economic
development, but it can certainly create a negative influence on its
security and international relations (in particular, Beijing's
relations with Washington and Tokyo.)

"But the KMT's return to power will be able to improve cross-Strait
relations in the following four years, or even longer, and this will
generate a profound impact on the international climate that Beijing
is facing. At least for now, relations between Beijing and
Washington do not focus on security and military competition, but on
political and ideological clashes, which, as a result, will bring
along the clashes (and cooperation) of economic interests.
Alleviated cross-Strait relations will be conducive to improved
security and military relations across the Taiwan Strait and thereby
advance relations in their entirety. ...

"For Washington, Beijing's importance is far higher than that of
Taipei. At least in the near future, the core of Washington's
cross-Strait policy will be to maintain a dynamic balance so as to
ensure stability in the entire Asia-Pacific region. The so-called
'dynamic' refers to the changes in the internal and external
conditions of the triangular relationship, the adjustments and
revisions to the different stages of its policy objectives, and the
various interactions among the three sides. The interactions of
these over the past two decades have, to a certain extent, changed
the original positions, strategies and adaptability of the three
sides, but the basic framework remains more or less the same. Under
certain conditions, a relatively tense cross-Strait relationship may
become a 'card' played by Washington to bargain back and forth with
Beijing. But Washington does not want this card, which has its
individual characteristics, to sabotage its plan. This is why over
the past eight years, an antagonistic cross-Strait relationship has
contributed nothing to the DPP administration's efforts to enhance
[Taiwan's] status in the international community, and instead, it
has impaired Taiwan's economic developments. If Washington's
relations with Beijing remain fundamentally stable, Beijing's
relations with Tokyo will improve quickly. At least for now, most
RELATIONS

countries in the Asia-Pacific region have no direct and
nonnegotiable conflicts with both sides of the Taiwan Strait in
terms of security and military interests. It should be the hope of
every side to see Beijing and Taipei get along with each other in
peace.

"Both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be able to gradually develop
mutual trust and expand mutual interests in the next four years.
Taipei's 'involvement in the international activities' will be a
relatively complicated issue. But given the wisdom and
open-mindedness of the caliber of talents on both sides of the
Taiwan Strait, a model which is acceptable to both sides should be
able to be invented. This is because a significant and thorough
improvement in cross-Strait relations and the continuation of this
trend for the next four or even eight years are in the basic
interests of both sides of the Taiwan Strait and of international
society."

4. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "Why Does Taiwan Need to Follow Beijing's Orders and Deliberately
Curry Favor with It?"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000]
editorialized (6/2):

"... Judging from the perspective of breaking the deadlock of
cross-Strait relations, the meeting between [KMT Chairman] Wu
Poh-hsiung and his Chinese Communist Party counterpart Hu Jintao has
naturally achieved a certain effect. But one cannot suddenly jump
to a conclusion that cross-Strait relations have improved just by
looking at the surface phenomenon. On the contrary, an accurate
assessment cannot be made until the impact of the contents of the
Wu-Hu meeting are thoroughly reviewed and evaluated. Frankly
speaking, the achievements boasted by the KMT will likely create a
false appearance of peace across the Taiwan Strait, but judging by
the overall situation, more harm was done than good, and some of the
issues will only bring Taiwan to tilt more deeply toward China
economically and will entangle Taiwan with China more intensely in
cultural, social and geopolitical arenas. In particular, China has
extended a goodwill gesture by saying that it is willing to consider
Taiwan's participation in international organizations, or even, as
relayed by Wu, China will be unlikely to launch missiles against
Taiwan and will reduce the missiles targeting Taiwan. It remains to
be seen whether China will really make such concessions. But should
it really happen, it will certainly be a move away from Beijing's
United Front tactics. The KMT's wishful thinking and unilateral
trust in China's goodwill will push Taiwan into an abyss. Taiwan
will meet a cruel death if it does not watch out. ..."

B) "Questions for Ma That Won't Just Disappear"

Liu Shih-chung, a Taipei-based political commentator, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (6/1):

"... But whether Beijing will relax its diplomatic stranglehold on
Taiwan is uncertain. Getting results in this regard constitutes Ma's
greatest challenge. Ma is using his mandate of 58 percent of the
vote to assimilate the DPP legacy of building Taiwanese identity -
but simply out of electoral concerns. Yet when the KMT contacts
Beijing, Ma sets aside notions of a Taiwan-centered identity. Is Ma
doing this in the national interest? Is he a man of principle? Can
he stand up to hardcore pro-unification forces, including the old
guard led by former KMT chairman Lien Chan? Or is he simply an
opportunist? These are questions that cannot be answered for now.
But the public needs them soon."

C) "Taiwan's WHO Role - a Litmus Test"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (5/31):

"... But nothing was more dramatic than the remarks made by mainland
Chinese leader Hu Jintao on Wednesday when he told a high-level
delegation from Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang that Beijing is willing
to discuss the issue of Taiwan's involvement in international
activities when regular cross-strait dialogue resumes. ... It is
encouraging, therefore, to see Hu's candor in responding to the
issue that was 'out of the question' during the era of Lee Teng-hui
and Chen Shui-bian with whom Beijing had refused to deal with. Hu's
change of attitude promises a new era of detente and blossoming ties
that would create a win-win situation for both sides. The upbeat
assessment is based on what has transpired in the first
party-to-party talks -- both sides trying to rebuild the shattered
mutual trust and to seek common grounds despite differences. Both
sides were trying to avoid sensitive political issues in favor of
practicality. ... This commonness is cause for optimism for a
RELATIONS

win-win outcome from the cross-strait thaw, including Taiwan's
status, or role -- whatever it may be -- in the WHO or WHA."

WANG

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