Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. And Cross-Strait Relations
DE RUEHIN #0809/01 1620928
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100928Z JUN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9131
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8350
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9583
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000809
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. AND CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS
Summary: As Taiwan's June 10 print media continued to concentrate
on reporting the controversy over the foreign permanent residency
status of officials in the Ma Ying-jeou administration, news
coverage also focused on the upcoming talks between Taiwan's Straits
Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for Relations
across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and on a Taiwan teenage golfer who
captured the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)
championship golf tournament in the U.S. Sunday. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, a column in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" urged the Ma Ying-jeou administration to speed up its
coordination and cooperation with the United States when
cross-Strait relations are moving in high gear toward improvement.
An editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News" reminded the
KMT to watch out for the roles that the government and the party
should play in the upcoming cross-Strait talks. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News," on the other hand,
criticized Ma's administration for "setting aside" Taiwan's
sovereignty in its dealing with Beijing. End summary.
A) "Chance of a Lifetime for Taiwan; Do Not Mess It Up"
Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kuo Chen-lung wrote in the "International
Column" in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation:
"Taiwan's relations with mainland China are now in the midst of a
precious moment, which barely occurs once in a hundred years. Yet
there are many dangers and difficulties lying ahead, particularly
when Beijing is acting proactively [to dictate the development of
cross-Strait relations] while Taiwan is gradually losing its
initiative. The Ma [Ying-jeou] administration wants to take
advantage of [Taiwan's] relations with the United States to balance
[cross-Strait relations] but is missing the best timing. ...
"... But given the current quick pace of change in cross-Strait
relations, [it is questionable] whether the United States and Taiwan
are keeping up with the intensive and continuous communication
[between China and Taiwan]. For example, the second day after the
meeting between [Chinese President] Hu [Jintao] and [KMT Chairman]
Wu [Poh-hsiung], the resumption of negotiations between Taiwan's
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for
Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) was announced. Did the
United States know about it beforehand? Before the SEF leads a
delegation to mainland China, has [Taiwan] consulted with the United
States privately? These [moves] may seem to jeopardize Taiwan's
sovereignty, but they are actually essential moves to 'balance'
[changing cross-Strait relations].
"What is even more worrisome is how [the Ma administration] will
respond when [the future cross-Strait talks] touch on the core
security interests between the United States and Taiwan. For
example, what is the Ma administration going to do if mainland
representatives hint to their Taiwan counterparts in private
meetings that [Taiwan's] ongoing purchase of weapons from the United
States will have a negative impact on the amicable atmosphere on
both sides of the Strait?
"In fact, in Ma's inaugural speech and in Minister of National
Defense Chen Chao-min's recent remarks made in the Legislative Yuan,
both emphasized over and over again that Taiwan will maintain its
independent national defense and will purchase necessary weapons.
However, the problem is: Will [Taiwan] be able to reach a consensus
with the United States and steadfastly draw a red line [telling
China] that 'there is absolutely no room for negotiation' [over arms
procurement from the United States] as [the island] grows more and
more reliant on economic and trade cooperation with mainland China?
"Of course the moment for showdown has not arrived yet, and Beijing,
understanding the sensitivity of the issue as well, will not put the
issue on the table for the time being. In the meantime, the United
States is reluctant to sell F-16C/D fighter jets to Taiwan because
it is worried that [such a deal] will negatively affect the
atmosphere surrounding the resumption of cross-Strait dialogue. In
particular, officials in the Bush administration only have six
months left in their term of office, so the administration
definitely does not want to offend mainland China just to enhance
U.S. relations with Taiwan.
"However, the countdown is gradually speeding up. How to arrange
and define [Taiwan's] relation with the United States is an issue
that Ma's administration must think about immediately.
Nevertheless, [Taiwan's] representative to the United States is yet
to take office, and his deputy who is supposed to assist him is
undecided as well. When compared with its hasty attitude toward the
mainland policy, [Ma administration] is indeed getting out of
balance in terms of its policy toward the United States.
"Some people suggested that senior officials at [Taiwan's] National
Security Council (NSC) visit the United States as soon as possible.
Besides establishing a mechanism in which every [Taiwan] agency has
a counterpart [in the United States] and renewing the NSC's
understanding of the secret agreements and tacit consensus reached
between the United States and Taiwan over the last eight years, what
is more important [for Taiwan] is to report to the United States
directly on what happens in the SEF-ARATS talks and to come up with
a policy timetable within the next six months. The next few months
will be a key period for Ma, and it will be a key period in Taiwan's
history as well. Ma and his NSC staff have no right to screw it
B) "'Bridge' and 'Road': Concerted Attack by Converging the Two
Tracks of Party and Government"
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"... The current circumstances may seem to bode well for both sides
of the Taiwan Strait. But a comparison of how the governments on
both sides of the Taiwan Strait react to such developments show that
Beijing has been working in an orderly fashion in terms of its
strategy and level of officials [dealing with Taiwan]. It is
obvious that Beijing has it all planned out. But a look at the
Taiwan's side showed that since winning the election on March 22,
the new [Ma Ying-jeou] administration has been inconsistent in terms
of its speed, progress, and the level of officials [who engage with
China] -- a move that has confused both its rival and the
administration itself and has thus created uncertainty for
interaction across the Strait. Both President Ma and KMT Chairman
Wu Poh-hsiung reached a good tacit agreement prior to Wu's visit to
China last month, which thus made the two tracks -- the government
and the party -- coordinate with each other quite smoothly. It
requires careful planning and some break-in for the KMT to learn
from this successful experience, so that it will not 'run out of
control' or even let the role of the 'second track' override that of
the government. ..."
C) "Ma's Concessions Risk Our Future"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (6/10):
"... Ma's administration seems to believe they are adopting a 'soft'
non-ideological approach with 'flexibility and pragmatism' that will
bring more benefits to Taiwan. But what Ma is actually doing is
'setting aside' the sovereignty of Taiwan in an approach that is
'inflexible and unrealistic' and which is driven by the KMT's hoary
ideology of 'great Chinese nationalism.' Ma's statement that 'the
people on both sides of the Strait belong to the Chinese nation,'
has delivered a clear message to the Taiwanese people that,
regardless of the mainstream Taiwan-centric identity, their new
government considers Taiwan to be part of 'China' and to have no
intrinsic identity except as an instrument to 'link up with China.'
"Ma seems intent on making unilateral concessions of Taiwan's
sovereignty so that Beijing may kindly bestow Taiwan some survival
space, presumably under the lasting 'complete governance' of the
CCP's 'elder brother' China-centric party. However, this weak-kneed
mentality will only bring '100 disadvantages and no benefits' to
Taiwan. Internally, Taiwan will lose precious time and space to
consolidate its national development, which is entwined and mutually
dependent with the concept of a citizen based Taiwan national
identity fostered under both Lee Teng-hui and the former DPP
government. The KMT's evident attempt to supplant the historically
and democratically-grounded citizen-based concept of Taiwan identity
with a vague attachment to a 'great Chinese nation' lacks any clear
vision of what kind of society the 23 million people on Taiwan
should build and what our distinct place in the world community
should be. ..."