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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations, Taiwan-Japan

VZCZCXYZ0012
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0866/01 1710847
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190847Z JUN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9227
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8386
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9615

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000866

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 RELATIONS, TAIWAN-JAPAN
DISPUTE


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused June 19
news coverage on new developments in cross-Strait relations; on
speculations over the personnel reshuffle at the Control Yuan and
the Examination Yuan; and on a major downsizing of the "China
Times," one of the four largest Chinese-language dailies in Taiwan.
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner headline on page
three reading "Green [DPP] Camp: [President] Ma's [Proposal to]
Shelve Arms Procurements Has Aroused Grave Concerns from
Washington."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" called on the Taiwan public to
watch out for President Ma Ying-jeou's political tricks to push
Taiwan toward China. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" lambasted President Ma for
compromising Taiwan's sovereignty by giving in over his official
title of "President" just to please Beijing. Former AIT Chairman
Richard Bush opined in the "Taipei Times" that only when Taiwan and
China share a common goal of stabilization can cross-Strait
relations become more predictable. An op-ed in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" discussed the recent dispute between Taiwan and
Japan over the Tiaoyutai Islands and said improved cross-Strait
relations are the main reason prompting Japan to adopt a softened
tone in the dispute. End summary.

3. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "Exposing 'Mr. Ma's' Political Tricks of Pushing Taiwan toward
China"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (6/19):

"... In reality, the ultimate purpose of Ma Ying-jeou's attempt to
associate Taiwan with the Republic of China is simply to link Taiwan
with China, namely, [to push for Taiwan's] ultimate unification
[with China]. This is why he has accepted the 'one China' consensus
regardless of all the consequences. The 23 million people who have
the right over Taiwan's sovereignty must see through [Ma's]
political tricks, with which he attempts to 'eliminate Taiwan's
sovereignty' and then 'sinify' the island."

B) "You're the President, Act Like One"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (6/19):

"... On Tuesday, in response to media queries on how he would
address China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait
Chairman Chen Yunlin if the two meet when Chen visits Taiwan later
this year, Ma said: 'I would address him as Mr. Chen and he could
address me as Mr. Ma. I think that's the best way.' Ma added that
as long as both sides are on equal footing, there should be no
reason to believe that the nation's sovereignty would be slighted.
It is nothing less than shocking to see how easily Ma would
compromise himself and his title - an honor bestowed upon him by
7,658,724 voters - to please Beijing.

"According to Ma's logic, his approach is the best way to avoid
'controversy.' But if doing so involves giving up one's official
title in one's own country, what else can Taiwanese expect from the
president when he travels abroad? ... A president represents a
country's sovereignty. If Ma cannot understand that and if he
cannot act in a manner commensurate with his title, then he is
unworthy of the position."

C) "The Balancing Act across the Strait"

Richard Bush, former AIT chairman and a senior fellow at the
Brookings Institution in Washington, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (6/19):

"... The two sides are off to a good start, but it is only a start.
At this early stage, the two sides should be pleased with their
initial achievements, but they should remember that they have
embarked on a long and complicated process of re-engagement.
Expectations are high and pitfalls exist. The recent experience of
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak demonstrates what happens when
a leader ignores pitfalls and cannot meet expectations. ... If the
two sides are to reduce mistrust and increase mutual understanding,
it will occur not through some 'grand bargain,' but as a result of a
gradual, step-by-step process where each side's initiatives do not
entail substantial risk and the other's positive response encourages
momentum.

"The current interactive process will also succeed if Beijing and
Taipei agree, at least informally, on what the goal is. Having an
objective gives the two sides focus and a sense of purpose. On

democratic Taiwan, the existence of a goal gives the public a
benchmark with which to evaluate the performance of the Ma
administration. Every time the two sides successfully take a step
toward that objective, they gain more confidence that more can be
achieved. ... But it appears the two sides have identified another
goal worth striving for. My own term for this goal is
'stabilization' - that is, the creation of an environment for
cross-strait relations that allows the two sides to coexist without
mutual fear. Stabilization begins with each side's declaratory
reassurance that it does not intend to challenge the fundamental
interests of the other. ... If fully realized through an
incremental process, stabilization will make cross-strait relations
more predictable and will significantly reduce mutual fear. ..."

4. Taiwan-Japan Dispute

"[Taiwan] Joining Hands with Japan to Counter China? Japan Has
Yielded to the Situation"

Hsu Chieh-lin, head of the Japan Research Institute in Taiwan,
opined in the pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation:
400,000] (6/19):

"... There are three cunning schemes behind Japan's occupation of
the Tiaoyutai Islands: First, it manipulates the United States to
be its accomplice. Second, it takes advantage of international law
as a cover-up. Third, it benefits from the conflict between Taiwan
and China without any effort. Now the situation across the Taiwan
Strait has changed dramatically. First, the United States has said
that it does not want to get involved in the controversy over the
sovereignty of the Tiaoyutai Islands. Second, Japan's claim of
'occupation' [over the disputed islands] is groundless in terms of
international law. Third, both sides of the Strait are entering a
honeymoon period of integration at the moment, so it is difficult
for Japan to obtain any benefits now. Why did Japan soften its tone
this time? This is worth pondering. ..."

YOUNG

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