Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations


DE RUEHIN #0857/01 1700954
R 180954Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus June 18 news coverage on the dispute between Taiwan and Japan
over the Diaoyutai (generally anglicized in Taiwan as "Tiaoyutai")
Islands; on new developments in cross-Strait relations; and on
electricity price hikes in Taiwan, slated to go into effect
beginning July 1. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner
headline on page two reading "DPP Expresses Doubts about [National
Security Council Secretary-General] Su Chi Proposing to the U.S.
that Arms Procurements be Suspended and Thus Endangering Taiwan's

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial criticized the Ma Ying-jeou administration's "base, low
and contemptible manner" in dealing with the U.S. arms procurement
package and cross-Strait relations. A column in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" urged President Ma to maintain a balanced
relationship with the United States, China, and Japan because it
will benefit Taiwan's strategic interests most. A column in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" recommended that the Ma
administration focus on Taiwan's bid to participate in international
organizations other than the United Nations, such as the World
Health Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary
Fund. End summary.

A) "President Ma's Inability to Draw a Line between His Party and
the Nation and His Willingness to Suffer Humiliation Have Put Taiwan
in Imminent Danger"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (6/18):

"... The new [Ma] administration's base, low and contemptible manner
of disarming itself was fully exposed in the cases of the arms
procurement package and 'one China with respective interpretations.'
In terms of arms procurements, President Ma announced superficially
that '[Taiwan] is determined to defend its security, will have a
rational defense budget and will acquire necessary defensive
weaponry' in an attempt to placate popular sentiments on Taiwan.
But in reality, he is scared that the U.S. arms procurement package
will jeopardize his pro-China policy. As a result, there were
horrifying rumors circulating that a core aide of the new
administration had privately requested that the United States
suspend its arms sales to Taiwan for the time being. Such a
double-dealing approach has both fooled the Taiwan people and
violated Taiwan's interests, putting Taiwan's security at great
risk. Also, in terms of the controversy over [Taiwan's]
sovereignty, it appears that the Ma administration only dares to
adopt tough measures against Japan, which has been a long-time
friend to Taiwan. But when it comes to China, which has deployed
over a thousand missiles aimed at Taiwan and has never renounced the
use of force against the island, the Ma administration only blindly
curries favor with it. [Ma's practice] has in fact proved that he
has put his personal political position and national identify ahead
of Taiwan's security and interests.

"In addition, the Ma administration claimed that the spirit of the
1992 consensus is 'one China with respective interpretations' and
has proudly used it as the basis for the resumption of talks between
Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association
for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). But given the
recent performance of the new administration, 'one China with
respective interpretations' has proven to be a political scam. ...
In order to meet with ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin, President Ma even
said yesterday that both sides can address each other as 'Mr. Ma'
and 'Mr. Chen' - a gesture showing that self-humiliation is nothing
for him as long as Chen is willing to visit Taiwan. If Ma is a
civilian, no one can say anything against his decision to be
addressed as Mr. Ma. But as president, Ma's status represents the
Taiwan people as a whole. He must not call himself Mr. Ma, or it
will not only be a move of self-disparagement but also an insult for
all the Taiwan people."

B) "Ma Ying-jeou Must Play the Four-Sided Chess Game Skillfully"

Journalist Hsiao Hsiu-tsen wrote in a column in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (6/18):

"Taiwan's fishing boat sank in the waters near the Tiaoyutai Islands
after a collision with a Japanese frigate. The indignation
triggered by the hawks in Taiwan has generated repercussions on the
sensitive relationship among the United States, Japan, Taiwan and
China.... Ma Ying-jeou will need to put forth some effort in order
to play this four-sided chess game skillfully. Also, it requires
further deliberation as to whether Ma should disclose his card [so
early] by saying that he and [ARATS Chairman] Chen Yunlin can
address each other as Mr. Ma and Mr. Chen when Chen visits Taiwan
[in fall]. Current indications are that relations across the Taiwan
Strait are getting better, and China is also striving to mend its
relations with Japan. But Taiwan's relations with Japan will likely

take a turn because of the controversy [over the Tiaoyutai Islands].
On the other hand, given the increasingly intimate relationship
across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan's relations with the United States
have become more complicated, and as a result, U.S. arms sales to
Taiwan have become bewildering. Should Washington and Japan
determine that Taiwan is tilting toward China, it will have
unfavorable impact on Taiwan's strategic position ...

"The appropriate approach for Ma is that while reaping the harvests
of cross-Strait exchanges, he should also seek to stabilize Taiwan's
relations with the United States and Japan. Unless Ma believes that
exchanges across the Taiwan Strait supersede the other relations,
the maintenance of a balanced relationship among the four sides -
the United States, China, Taiwan and Japan - should be most
favorable for Taiwan's strategic interests. ..."

C) "[Taiwan's] Proposal to Enter the UN Should Be Changed this

New York correspondent Jeromy Fu wrote in the "United Notes" column
in the pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]

"Cross-Strait relations have seen a great improvement since
[President] Ma assumed his post. [Ma's election] has also created a
long-awaited opportunity for Taiwan's bid to join the international
community. In order to pursue more strategic interests in Taiwan's
diplomacy, Taipei should seize this rare opportunity and adjust its
tactics. [Taipei] should change its course [of diplomacy] for the
upcoming 63rd United Nations General Assembly, which is due to open
in September, and consider halting its efforts to enter the United

"[Such a proposal] is by no means a diplomatic retreat; instead, it
is to abandon 'falseness' and focus on 'pragmatism.' In other
words, Taiwan should give up the method which has done no real
benefit to the island but has been utilized by [its] diplomatic
allies as a way of extortion in the last fifteen years. Taiwan
should instead put more mental and physical effort into
participating in international organizations which are more
substantive, concrete and accessible, such as the World Health
Organization, the World Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

"In this vein, this [change of course] will not only embody the Ma
administration's new thinking of 'reconciliation and truce' in
foreign affairs, but is also [a way] to make concessions for the
purpose of gaining greater advantages. Since [Chinese President] Hu
Jintao showed flexibility during his meeting with KMT Chairman Wu
Poh-hsiung by claiming that China will consider the issue of
Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization, Taipei can
then reciprocate by not engaging in a diplomatic attack and a
defense of its UN bid, about which Beijing cares the most, and can
use it in exchange to gain a chance to join the World Health
Organization. ..."


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