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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Talks, Taiwan-Japan Dispute,

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0845/01 1690842
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170842Z JUN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9189
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8374
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9602

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000845

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, TAIWAN-JAPAN DISPUTE,
U.S. GLOBAL INFLUENCE


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
give extensive coverage on June 17 to the dispute between Taiwan and
Japan over the Diaoyutai (generally anglicized in Taiwan as
"Tiaoyutai") Islands and to the resignation of Taiwan's
representative to Japan. Local newspapers devoted considerable
coverage to a Taiwan "protest" ship's voyage to the disputed waters
and the confrontation between a Taiwan Coast Guard vessel and a
Japanese patrol boat Monday. The pro-unification "United Daily
News" front-paged a banner headline reading "For the First Time,
[Taiwan's] Coast Guard Has Pushed Forward to within 0.4 Nautical
Miles of the Tiaoyutai Islands."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" continued its criticism against
President Ma Ying-jeou's cross-Strait policy, saying it has
compromised Taiwan's sovereignty. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" also condemned
Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) for lacking a coherent
strategy and thus damaging Taiwan's national security and
sovereignty in the course of negotiating with China's Association
for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). A separate "Liberty
Times" column discussed the recent dispute between Taiwan and Japan
over the Tiaoyutai Islands and urged the Ma administration to seek
to form an equilateral triangular relationship with the United
States, Japan and China, so that no side will feel threatened or
will overpower the other. Meanwhile, a column in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" expressed worries - based on both the
Republican and Democratic presidential candidates' campaign
platforms - that the next U.S. government will lead the United
States back to isolationism. End summary.

3. Cross-Strait Talks

A) "Can the [Taiwan] People Keep Silent About Ma Ying-jeou Doing
Away With [Taiwan's]Sovereignty?"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (6/17):

"... At the moment, President Ma [Ying-jeou] has put cross-Strait
relations ahead of foreign policy. In order to beg mercy from China
for launching the direct charter flights and opening Taiwan to
mainland tourists, [Ma] has blatantly accepted the consensus on one
China without retaining [Taiwan's] dignity, autonomy and security at
all. Ma once said 'we have the determination to defend Taiwan's
security.' However, a recent report in the 'Washington Post' said
'Taiwan's government privately had requested that the U.S.
administration not send the notifications in the next few weeks to
the U.S. Congress as China and Taiwan complete negotiations on
launching charter flights and expanding tourism between the two
countries.' In addition, opening up eight domestic airports for
direct flights will jeopardize [Taiwan's] national security, and [it
showed that] President Ma has no awareness and determination to
protect [Taiwan's] sovereignty at all.

"Since a nation's sovereignty belongs to all of its nationals, each
one of us has the responsibility to oppose and prevent President Ma
from taking advantage of the civil organization [i.e., the Straits
Exchange Foundation] as a cover up for gradually integrating
Taiwan's sovereignty into [the principle of] 'one China'. This will
be like slowly boiling a frog in water that starts out cold. [Ed.:
an old Chinese saying about damaging incremental changes, only
noticed when it's too late.] Before too long, Taiwan will
thoroughly 'forfeit its sovereignty and be conquered' by China
easily. We believe that in order to assure 'the principle that
sovereignty lies in the hands of its people' and to exercise 'direct
democracy,' the best strategy for President Ma for now is to put any
moves that may alter Taiwan's sovereignty to a popular vote.
President Ma should not have forgotten his vow that 'nothing will
count unless it has been approved by the Taiwan people!'"

B) "PRC Uses Pacts to Tame Taiwan"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (6/17):

"... While Beijing front-line squad was composed of seasoned
veterans of the SEF-ARATS talks during the 1990s, the Taiwan
delegation was headed by an elderly former technocrat with scant
diplomatic experience and included no one with front line experience
of SEF-ARATS negotiations. In addition, the KMT side was afflicted
by the absence of a coherent strategy, infighting over the right to
dominate the negotiating process and by blatant attempts by
delegates, some of whom had or have PRC business links, to turn the
negotiations into media talk shows. ...

"Moreover, the decision to open all eight airports to Chinese
tourists clearly did not consider the potential impact on Taiwan's
U.S. GLOBAL INFLUENCE

national security or the capacity of immigration control to manage
the inflow. Lastly, [SEF Chairman] Chiang [Pin-kun]'s meeting with
[Chinese President] Hu [Jintao] in the latter's status as CCP
General Secretary only confirmed the hegemony of the CCP-KMT 'party
to party platform' over Taiwan's democratically elected government
as Hu indicated that the SEF chairman's plea for Taiwan's
international space would be handled under the 'five point' accord
between Hu and then KMT chairman Lien Chan in April 2005.

"President Ma [Ying-jeou] may be correct when he gleefully lauded
Chiang's 'achievement' as a 'great step forward in cross-strait
relations,' but the path Ma has put Taiwan on leads only into
transformation of the 'Taiwan question' into 'a domestic affair' of
the PRC authoritarian state and the neo-authoritarian KMT and not to
better well-being, greater autonomy or even security for our 23
million people."

4. Taiwan-Japan Dispute

"The Strategic Golden Triangle"

Columnist Lin Wen-cheng noted in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" [circulation: 720,000] (6/17):

"The collision between the Taiwan fishing boat 'Lien Ho' [and a
Japanese frigate last week] has triggered tension between Taiwan and
Japan and has forced the Ma administration to lay its national
security strategy out on the table earlier than planned. It has
become an internal and external item of attention as to whether
Taiwan will alter the policy direction of 'joining hands with the
United States and Japan to confront China' adopted by the [former]
Chen Shui-bian administration and change it into a strategic plan of
'joining hands with China and keeping a distance from the United
States and Japan.' ...

"Since President Ma took office, his top priority has been to
improve [Taiwan's] relations with China. The resumption of talks
between Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association
for Relations across the Taiwan Strait was seen as a move of
positive interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and
is widely welcomed by the international community. But the KMT's
long-term practice of procrastinating on the arms procurement
package and Ma's potential obsession in resisting Japan have cast
shadows over both the United States and Japan. If both sides of the
Strait quickly get intimate with each other, Washington and Tokyo
will be concerned about whether Taiwan will be tilting toward China
and as a result, creating a breach in the first island chain of the
[U.S.-Japan] alliance. Should this happen, it will generate
enormous impact on the United States' strategic planning in the
Pacific and on Japan's national security and maritime
transportation. ...

"It is not in Taiwan's best interests either to join hands with
China to restrain the United States and Japan, or to [adopt] the
extremism of joining hands with Washington and Tokyo to restrain
Beijing. For Taiwan, which is strong in neither territory nor
military strength, it will not be able to enjoy its strategic
freedom and grasp the greatest possible power and benefits unless it
[seeks to] form a equilateral triangular relationship with the
United States, Japan and China, allowing no side feel threatened nor
allowing any one side to overpower another. ..."

5. The U.S. Global Influence

"Will the Next U.S. Government Return to Isolationism?"

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kuo Chen-lung wrote in the "International
Column" in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] (6/17):

"... The imperial power of the United States has become
overstretched, which is worrisome.

"... In the wake of the Cold War, the United States became the only
superpower in the world. America's economic and military strength
made it a successor of the various empires in history. Although
every country has to subject itself to the empire, the empire, in
return, will provide order, communication and systems to each
country. Once the empire loses such ability, every country will
then proclaim itself as king and set up boundaries, and chaos will
prevail.

"Now, in terms of currency, the competition for resources, or even
overseas military presence, the United States is facing more and
more competitors. Given that Washington is already overstretched,
the decline of the [U.S.] empire has become inevitable. The United
States has become less and less significant on the globe.
U.S. GLOBAL INFLUENCE

"The study of empires has become a famous doctrine now.... Given
the consequences of declining U.S. national power, even a [U.S.]
president who has the greatest talent and a grand vision will have
to accept the reality that the influence [of the United States] is
waning."

YOUNG

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