Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations


DE RUEHIN #0912/01 1780940
R 260940Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused June 26
news coverage on the Ma Ying-jeou Administration's new measures to
liberalize financial regulations vis-a-vis Mainland China; on
China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi's remarks Monday
regarding Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization;
and on President Ma's meeting with U.S. investment specialist Jim
Rogers Wednesday. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" carried a
banner headline on page two reading "U.S. Assistant Secretary of
Defense: China's Military Intimidation against Taiwan is

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said that Taiwan should stop
fantasizing that it could enjoy greater international space simply
by resuming negotiations with Beijing. An op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" said that Ma has
failed to come up with a concrete plan that can both consolidate
Taiwan's sovereignty and improve cross-Strait relations. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
urged Ma to adjust its "China first" policy for fear that Taiwan's
security relations with the United States and Japan would be
compromised. End summary.

A) "Zero-Sum Sovereignty Struggle across the Taiwan Strait"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (6/26):

"... China's ossified concept of its absolute sovereignty has
impaired Taiwan's rights and interests in exchanging information
with other countries in the world about epidemic prevention, which
could harm Taiwan severely and which has aroused resentment among
the Taiwan people. [President] Ma Ying-jeou's cross-Strait policy
has, for a while, created illusions for many people who believe
[that Ma's policy] could more or less change China's tough attitude
[toward Taiwan]. The remarks by [China's Taiwan Affairs Office
Director] Wang Yi [Monday that China does not accept Taiwan's formal
participation in the World Health Organization], however, have once
again crushed [the Taiwan people's] wishful thinking. For both
sides of the Taiwan Strait, there is still a long and difficult way
to go regarding [their negotiations over] the sovereignty issue.

"Taiwan must keep its head clear. First, if [Taiwan] decides to
separate politics from economics, it should just talk about economic
issues with the other side of the Strait. Issues that involve
sovereignty, such as [Taiwan's] international space, are about
politics, so [Taiwan] can put it aside for the time being, or else
it will be a mix, rather than separation, of politics and economics.
Second, it is fine to talk about political issues regarding
sovereignty, but then it really depends on what Taiwan is capable of
offering [in the negotiation]. It could be 'one China with
respective interpretations,' arms procurement [from the United
States], or [Taiwan's] relations with the United States and Japan,
etc. China regards sovereignty as something supremely sublime, and
what can Taiwan give in exchange for something so sublime? Being
overly naive would not be endearing, but rather a grievous error."

B) "Ma's One-Track Cross-Strait Policy"

Yao Jen-to, Assistant Professor at Taiwan's National Tsing Hua
University's Graduate Institute of Sociology, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (6/26):

"... The [Ma] government has yet to tell the public how it intends
to handle these challenges [in terms of cross-Strait relations].
What is clear is that the KMT has a fixed track in mind for
cross-strait relations. Following this, Taiwan and China would
inevitably get closer. This is not a big problem; the problem is
what will happen once this has happened. Putting aside contentious
issues such as whether Ma should be addressed as "President Ma" or
"Mr. Ma," the question remains: Where will this track lead us?

"If what Ma really wants is unification with China, the KMT's plan
should remain unchanged. However, if Ma intends to keep the
promises he made in his inaugural speech and work to safeguard the
dignity and sovereignty of Taiwan, or the Republic of China, he
should propose a concrete plan to consolidate public consensus on
Taiwan's independence and sovereignty while pushing it toward China.
Over the past month, we have seen the latter, but not the former.

C) "Ma Must Adjust 'China First' Line"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (6/26):

"... Perhaps the most worrisome indication of the direction of the
new KMT government's 'adjustment' of Taiwan's external policy
direction concerns numerous news media reports that the Ma
government had asked the United States to 'delay' public
announcement of a new package of advanced defensive weaponry to
Taiwan until after this month's talks between the quasi-official
Strait Exchange Foundation and Beijing's Association for Relations
Across the Taiwan Strait. In the wake of Taiwan's democratization,
both the former KMT government under ex-president Lee Teng-hui and
the former president Chen Shui-bian's Democratic Progressive Party
administration had believed that close relations with both the US
and Japan were the bedrock of Taiwan's national security strategy,
and that Taiwan could enhance its strategic position in the
Asia-Pacific and gain greater flexibility to engage the PRC through
deepening robust security ties with Washington and Tokyo.

"The reports of this request by Ma's national security team sent a
ringing message to Washington that his government will decide its US
policy based on the state of relations with the authoritarian PRC
regime in a dramatic reversal of the strategic priorities of the
Taiwan government since 1988. ... Moreover, we sincerely urge
President Ma to reconsider his decision to prioritize cross-strait
relations over foreign affairs, a policy that has already
effectively become tantamount to the abandonment of Taiwan's
independent diplomacy.

"Even if supporters of Ma's policy maintain that Taiwan will be
unable to upgrade its international status or expand its
international participation without friendly cross-strait ties with
the PRC, the KMT government's current stance has handed Beijing
effective control over Taipei's diplomacy and national defense
policies and has spawned grave doubts about Taiwan's new strategic
direction in Washington and Tokyo and in the capitals of our 23
official diplomatic partners. ... Since its strategy does not enjoy
public consensus and has triggered growing doubts among our
traditional allies and has already begun to harm the fabric of
Taiwan's democracy, we believe that the Ma government should
reconsider its policy of putting relations with the PRC 'above
everything' and return to its promise to 'put Taiwan first.'"


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