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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Talks

VZCZCXYZ0003
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0820/01 1640716
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120716Z JUN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9151
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8356
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9588

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000820

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: Cross-Strait Talks


1. Summary: On June 12, Taiwan's print media gave extensive
coverage to the historic talks between Taiwan's Straits Exchange
Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for Relations across the
Taiwan Strait (ARATS) on improved cross-Strait relations. News
coverage also focused on the aftermath of a collision between a
Taiwan fishing boat and a Japanese frigate near the Tiaoyutai
islands Tuesday. Two English-language dailies -- the
pro-independence "Taipei Times" and the pro-unification "China Post"
-- also ran a Reuters news story filed from Washington, which said
Taiwan's representative to the U.S. Joseph Wu has urged the U.S.
government to approve the sale of F-16 fighter jets as soon as
possible.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a news analysis in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" said the main goal of the
SEF-ARATS talks should be resuming the systematic interaction
between Taipei and Beijing, instead of negotiating technical issues.
An op-ed in the "China Times" urged Taiwan to grasp the opportunity
to make a breakthrough in cross-Strait relations. An editorial in
the pro-independence "Liberty Times" criticized Ma Ying-jeou's
administration for compromising Taiwan's sovereignty in its recent
policies. End summary.

A) "Only [When Both Sides of the Strait] Resume a Systematic
Exchange of Visits Can [Taipei and Beijing] Take [Their Interaction
and Dialogue] Seriously"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
analyzed (6/12):

"... This time, Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and
China's Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS)
finally took the opportunity to resume normal dialogue. [Taiwan's
President] Ma Ying-jeou and [SEF Chairman] Chiang Pin-kun should
understand that launching weekend charter flights and opening up
Taiwan to mainland tourists are just agreements on technical issues.
Resuming a systematic exchange of visits between SEF and ARATS
would be the most historically significant achievement of the
meeting between Chiang and [ARATS Chairman] Chen [Yunlin], if it is
feasible.

"However, one hand cannot clap. Chiang threw out the suggestion of
resuming the exchange of visits between SEF and ARATS in the
informal press conference [held in Beijing] on Wednesday night...Do
the Chinese Communist high-level [officials] just want to maintain
the good atmosphere for a short period, or do they really expect
both sides of the Strait to stay on the road of normalized
interaction for the long run? The answers to these questions will
not only have influence on the consensus which the "Chiang-Chen
meeting" might reach, but will also determine the final achievements
of the Chiang-Chen meeting."

B) "Ten Years to Sharpen a Sword"

Yang Yu-wen, a freelance writer, opined in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (6/12):

"Since both sides of the Strait started systematic negotiations, two
hiatuses in the talks were caused by disagreement over the
'one-China principle.' The second resumption [of the dialogue
across the Strait] is going to proceed. Compared with the
resumption of [the first] dialogue which was held ten years ago,
what has changed is the political and economic power of both sides
of the Strait, respectively. What has not changed is that the ball
is still in Beijing's court, whose goal is to push [Taiwan] toward
political negotiation. ...

"China has never been in such circumstances in almost one hundred
years. Its national power is rising. At the same time, it is
improving relations with neighboring countries, especially when its
relations with Russia, Japan and South Korea are concurrently in
strategic cooperation and mutually beneficial partnership. What is
even more important is, the final result of the United States
Presidential election will only be known at the end of the year and
[the United States'] foreign policy will only be clear by mid next
year. The influence of the United States on the situation in East
Asia and on cross-Strait relations will be diminished during this
time. Taiwan, after having experienced strongman and populist
politics, is in a nadir in which political and economic power is
declining and the government's governing capability is weak. Now
that [Chinese President] Hu Jintao has the upper hand, how could
Taiwan fail to accelerate the tempo and grasp an opportunity which
barely occurs once in a hundred years to realize the most
significant advancement of cross-Strait relations for the last
thirty years?

C) "The Unification Wing Comes to Power; Taiwan's Sovereignty Faces
an Unprecedented Crisis"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (6/12):

"After taking office, Ma's administration is publicly walking a
course of leaning towards China and ultimate unification, a course
filled with policies and moves that have downgraded our sovereignty.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) revealed recently that it is
implementing measures of 'de-Taiwanification.' Minister of Foreign
Affairs Francisco Ou also revealed that he gave clear instructions
to MOFA staff in a speech, saying that there will be adjustment in
the new government's foreign policy, with consideration toward not
disrupting the benign development of cross-Strait relations. After
President Ma advocated a 'diplomatic truce' in his inauguration
speech, he constantly repeated the same rhetoric while receiving
foreign guests. It is obvious that 'cross-Strait relations trumping
foreign affairs' has been set as the new government's policy. The
new government's resumption of dialogue with China is a corollary to
this policy. ...

"From the reality that, externally, the new government is retreating
and surrendering spontaneously on the diplomatic battlefield and
proceeding in negotiating between the two countries [Taiwan and
China] and introducing China's influence into Taiwan; internally,
[the new government] is in haste to change the roadmap of
Taiwan-centric consciousness and efface the name of Taiwan, we know
that after the unification wing came to power, Taiwan's sovereignty
has actually been facing an unprecedented crisis. The Taiwan people
should think about how to do our utmost to turn the tide in order to
save Taiwan at this critical juncture of life and death."

YOUNG

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