Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Talks


DE RUEHIN #0830/01 1650916
R 130916Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's print media June 13 gave significant coverage
to the historic meetings between Taiwan's Straits Exchange
Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for Relations across the
Taiwan Strait (ARATS) on improved cross-Strait relations Thursday.
All major Taiwan dailies front-paged the landmark handshake between
SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kun and his ARATS counterpart Chen Yunlin in
Beijing Thursday and said that SEF and ARATS may consider setting up
reciprocal offices to handle visa applications. In the meantime,
news coverage continued to focus on the aftermath of a collision
between a Taiwan fishing boat and a Japanese frigate near the
Tiaoyutai islands Tuesday. Several papers also quoted a "Washington
Post" report as saying that top U.S. officials have put the brakes
on the arms package for Taiwan.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" criticized the SEF-ARATS talks as
black box negotiations and said the Taiwan people will never accept
the results of such talks. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" also remained skeptical of the
SEF-ARATS talks and said Taiwan's sovereignty is at stake. An op-ed
piece in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times," on the other hand,
discussed Taiwan's internal concerns over the island's political and
economic prospects once the dialogue between Taiwan and China
becomes systematic. End summary.

A) "How Can the [Taiwan] People Accept [Results of] Black Box Talks
[with China]?"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (6/13):

"... Peaceful developments across the Taiwan Strait as well as
stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region are not only the
results welcomed by the 23 million people of Taiwan but also a
long-term goal pursued by the island. Given such a basis, the Ma
administration could have sought to reach an internal consensus [on
the resumption of cross-Strait talks] in a discreet and orderly
fashion first and then started negotiating [with Beijing] based on
the consensus. During the entire process [of pushing for the
resumption of cross-Strait dialogue], it is the responsibility of a
ruling and accountable government to pay equal attention to proper
procedures and rule of law. But as a state leader, [Ma] simply used
statements like 'the people have been waiting for eight long years'
to respond to straightforward criticism from the outside saying that
the new administration has been acting too hastily [on the
cross-Strait issue]. Such a mentality [of the Ma administration]
will surely result in [chaotic] policy and personnel arrangements
... and will thus put Taiwan in a dangerous situation. ..."

B) "Sovereignty at Stake in Beijing"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (6/13):

"... This time the talks are being held in Beijing, a factor that is
itself full of symbolism. Not holding the talks on neutral ground,
as happened in the past, gives China the chance to frame events as
it desires. The venue for the talks, the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse,
is proof of this, as it is where the Chinese government houses
visiting provincial government officials. Thus, Beijing can portray
the talks as one of its provinces coming to pay tribute to the seat
of power. All the talk about 'putting aside disputes over
sovereignty' to create a 'win-win' situation for both sides is a red
herring because if Taiwan is willing to overlook sovereignty just
once, then it is setting a precedent for future talks. The only
winner if this happens will be Beijing. ...

"Another consequence of this week's talks is that China fever is now
in danger of developing into a full-scale epidemic, with county
commissioners and city mayors now champing at the bit to cross the
Strait and hobnob with their communist counterparts. Elected
officials are lining up to ditch their titles to take part in
economic activities and some are even willing to break the law to do
so. ... The government must put its foot down soon and allow the
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) to exercise its authority if it is to
prove wrong the doubters who said Lai Shin-yuan's appointment was
just a publicity stunt. ... How can people trust a government that
is prepared to stand up to Japan over the sovereignty of the
Diaoyutais while at the same time cower to China?"

C) "Resumption of SEF-ARATS Negotiations; Beneficial Effects and

Tao Yi-feng, an associate professor of the Department of Political
Science at National Taiwan University, opined in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (6/13):

"... In terms of politics, the resumption of negotiations between
[Taiwan's] Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and [China's]

Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) is based
on the prerequisite that both sides accept the '1992 consensus.'
Beijing is pleased to see Taiwan return to the 'one China'
framework, while the KMT is only emphasizing the 'respective
interpretations' part of the '1992 consensus.' However, it has
become an obvious trend over the past decade that Taiwan's political
and economic power is declining while Beijing's is increasing. In
international society at present, no matter how Taiwan interprets
the connotations of 'one China' -- be it 'one China is the Republic
of China;' 'one China refers to a cultural China;' or 'one China
refers to a China in the future' -- it has never been able to
contend with Beijing's interpretation [of one China] (namely, 'there
is only one China in the world; Taiwan is part of China, and the
People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government of
China). How to secure the sovereignty of the Republic of China
during the reciprocal talks about status as a 'political entity'
will be a question constantly asked of the KMT by the people and the
opposition parties in Taiwan.

"In addition, the 'status quo' advocated by [President] Ma
[Ying-jeou] -- 'no unification, no independence, no use of force' --
is actually a dynamic balance. If the current interests of big
powers like China, the Untied States and Japan prefer that Taiwan
maintain such a 'status quo,' these countries should act more
proactively to help Taiwan maintain such a dynamic balance. After
substantial progress has been made following the resumption of talks
between SEF and ARATS, Taiwan should have more leeway to ask the
United States and Japan to give Taiwan more support for Taiwan's
participation in the international community. In this way, Taiwan
will avoid falling into circumstances in which it can only
unilaterally hope for Beijing's goodwill. ..."


© Scoop Media

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