Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #0886/01 1751017
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231017Z JUN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9250
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8390
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9619
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000886
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: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused June
21-23 news coverage on the peaceful resolution to a recent dispute
between Taiwan and Japan, triggered by the collision between a
Taiwan fishing boat and a Japanese frigate in early June; on
President Ma Ying-jeou's nomination of Control Yuan members Friday;
and on the oil and electricity price hikes in Taiwan. Several
papers also reported on U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's
recent interview with the "Wall Street Journal." The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner headline on page two
in its June 23 edition, reading "Rice: the United States Hopes to
See Taiwan Have Real Space in the International Community."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
analysis discussed Secretary Rice's remarks on U.S.-Taiwan relations
and said President Ma has personally destroyed the balance of power
among Washington, Beijing and Taipei by tilting quickly toward
China. A separate "Liberty Times" commentary also questioned
whether the Ma administration is changing Taiwan's strategic
direction by leaning towards China and distancing itself from the
United States and Japan. An editorial in the pro-unification
"United Daily News," however, said that with thawing cross-Strait
relations, relations among the United States, Taiwan, China and
Japan will become more vibrant. End summary.
A) "Lurching toward China, Ma Has Personally Destroyed the Balance
of Power among the United States, China and Taiwan"
Deputy Editor-in-Chief Tsou Jiing-wen wrote in an analysis in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000] (6/23):
"... Having kept silence for a while, U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice finally gave remarks that were both profound and
mysterious! 'The United States has a relationship with Taiwan as
well' -- this was a statement meant for everyone; in particular,
Rice was reminding those who have almost forgotten that the United
Stats has a relationship with Taiwan. Was Taiwan's new
administration included [in those whom Rice was addressing]? 'Mr.
Ma' should know the answer better than anyone else. In contrast to
[Taiwan's] praise and kow-tows for China lately, some unusual
signals can be seen in the Ma administration's conduct of foreign
"The first one has to do with the resumed talks between Taiwan's
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for
Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). Diplomatic circles in
both Washington and Tokyo have privately complained that Taipei
failed to follow precedent and notify them [of the content of the
SEF-ARATS talks] beforehand. The consistency in their complaints
was pretty unusual. The other signal came from a Washington Post
report, which, as some have alleged, helped Washington release the
information that it is Taiwan that has hoped to shelve the arms
procurements [from the United States]. The background of such a
report is thought-provoking, and [Taiwan's] opposition party has
directly been targeting [its criticism at] National Security Council
Secretary-General Su Chi. Even though the Presidential Office has
denied such a report, it may not be totally groundless.
"[Ma] was greatly supported by the Americans during the process of
his campaigning, but since he assumed office, he has continuously
received comments from Washington wrapped in diplomatic rhetoric.
Any discerning person cannot overlook the lack of mutual trust
between [Ma and Washington.] Who is the big boss in this triangle
of power? [When it has something to say,] the United States never
keeps quiet. It never did, nor will it now. The United States'
aggressive manner was even better demonstrated in Rice's statement
that [they] 'want to see Taiwan have real space in the international
community!' This statement is akin to 'sending a diplomatic note'
to warn Beijing. If one compares it with 'Mr. Ma's' recent calls
for modus vivendi, diplomatic truce, 1992 consensus; his willingness
to [condescend to] 'equalize [himself]' with the chairman of ARATS;
and his move of sending [SEF Chairman] Chiang Pin-kun to meet with
Chinese President] Hu Jintao personally to ask for [Taiwan's]
international space, [one can tell that] it did not happen by
accident that China has been playing little disruptive tricks in
various international organizations.
"Evidently, the United States is trying to adjust the already
twisted fulcrum in this triangular relationship to reinstate the
balance so that it can manage it. Judging from the perspective of
the Taiwan people's interests, we welcome the emergence of such an
international power. But if we look at it from the angle of
Taiwan's sovereignty, why cannot our government bring our ability
and wisdom into play and take the initiative in handling such a
fulcrum? The fact that we let ourselves become the cause of such
imbalance should receive severe criticism. Ma's national security
and diplomatic teams should work harder, or there will definitely be
a limit to the [Taiwan] people's patience."
B) "[With] the Ma Administration Changing Its Strategic Direction,
the Taiwan-Japan-U.S. Alliance Is Drifting as Well"
Lo Chih-cheng, an associate professor of the Department of Political
Science at [Taiwan's] Soochow University, wrote in the "Weekly
Column" of the pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
"... Switching from the practice of the Bian administration, which
used 'democracy-ism' as the core of its foreign policy, [President]
Ma Ying-jeou seems to have regarded 'nationalism' as the pillar of
his national strategic structure. Previously, the DPP pushed for
establishing democratic alliances with the United States and Japan
and emphasized that such alliances were not only based on practical
interests but also on their persistence and maintenance of the
common values of democracy. ...
"...In Taiwan's relations with the three major countries -- China,
Japan and the United States -- will the Ma administration adopt the
same thinking and intentions [as those of South Korea]? In other
words, will [the Ma administration] regard cross-Strait [relations]
as 'compatriot relations' while viewing Taiwan's relations with
Japan and with the United States as 'alliances,' ... which are less
important? The re-definition of Taiwan's essential relations with
major countries, as well as the changes to [Taiwan's] strategic
thinking that ensued from such re-definition, are probably the most
worrisome aspects of the Ma administration. ...
"Whether the allegation that Taiwan demanded that the United States
suspend arms sales to Taiwan in order not to sabotage the atmosphere
for the resumption of cross-Strait negotiations is true or not, this
kind of appeal is definitely a corollary to the strategic switch of
the Ma administration. Regardless of whether Taiwan intends to
continue procuring arms from the United States or not, China's
position has been very clear, namely, the United States has to end
all arms sales to Taiwan. In fact, China's Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Spokesman also made the request publicly one day before
Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for
Relations across the Strait signed agreements.
"As a result, if Beijing demands that Taiwan reduce or even cease
arms procurement from the United States, or else it will be
unwilling to proceed improving cross-Strait relations, the Ma
administration might face great difficulty under the pressure of not
being able to afford to have cross-Strait relations move backwards.
Perhaps quite a lot of people will reach the same conclusion as to
the question of whether [the Ma administration] will eventually make
a zero-sum choice under the thinking that 'mainland policy should
supersede foreign policy;' or as to what kind of strategic choice it
will make, especially considering that 'compatriots are insiders and
allies are outsiders?' ..."
C) "Taiwan, the United States, Japan and China: Two [Separate]
Chess Games or One Single Chess Game?"
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"... Under such 'new circumstances,' even though Beijing has yet to
positively accept Ma Ying-jeou's proposal of 'no unification, no
independence, and no use of force' as well as 'one China with
respective interpretations,' it did not come forth to deny it either
([Chinese President] Hu Jintao has told his U.S. counterpart George
W. Bush that he accepted 'one China with respective
interpretations.') Henceforth, not only have transportation
relations across the Taiwan Strait been changed because of [the
launch of] direct transportation, but more importantly, the thinking
and mentality of both sides of the Taiwan Strait have also changed.
Once there is a change to cross-Strait relations, the chess game
played among 'Taiwan, the United States, Japan and China' will also
change accordingly. The most significant change is that previously,
any mediation across the Taiwan Strait must go through Washington.
But the bridge across the Strait has now been constructed, so there
is no need to go through the United States any more. ...
"Now, with thawing cross-Strait relations, the two 'separate chess
games' [of cross-Strait relations and Taiwan-U.S.-Japan relations]
can be merged into one single chess game. Relations between Taipei,
Washington and Tokyo ... will become more vibrant. Not only that,
if a 'diplomatic truce' takes effect in the future, neither side of
the Taiwan Strait will suffer coercion or distortion from their
neighboring countries any longer. ..."