Cablegate: Cross Strait Relations: The View From Fujian

DE RUEHGZ #0408/01 1930815
R 110815Z JUL 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Cross Strait Relations: The view from Fujian

1. (SBU) Summary: China is ready to discuss Taiwan's international
space, according to officials and academics in Fujian. Negotiations
could lead to agreement on Taiwan's accession to the World Health
Organization (WHO) as early as next May. In addition, they
anticipate that Beijing and Taipei will exchange representative
offices under the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait
(ARATS)-Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) framework, possibly after
the initial step of establishing official travel agency offices.
Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party should not be discounted as a
political force, according to one official, though it will be a
complicated and difficult process in reconstituting the party as a
power center in the absence of KMT mistakes. End Summary.

China Ready To Discuss Taiwan's International Space
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (SBU) Beijing might finally be ready to resolve the question of
Taiwan's international space, Director General (DG) Guo Minzeng of
Fuzhou's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) told the Consul General
recently. Guo believes true progress will hinge on whether both
sides can follow Chinese President Hu Jintao's 16-character
instruction about putting aside disputes and working to achieve
common development objectives. Such an approach would clear the way
for detailed negotiations between the Mainlaind's ARATS and Taiwan's
SEF, Guo argued.

3. (SBU) Li Peng, vice president of Xiamen University's Taiwan
Research Institute, told us separately that in the past Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MFA) officials had categorically rejected his
institute's suggestions that China allow more international space
for Taiwan, saying it was "unnecessary." Now, the MFA has changed
its tune and is telling Taiwan scholars that it recognizes the need
for more international space as a step toward improving relations.
Li commented that by abandoning Chen Shui-bian's confrontational
tactics, Ma Ying-jeou had shown a more reasonable approach,
especially as he recognized that Taiwan's international space is
dependent on Beijing's cooperation and direct negotiation across the

WHO Agreement by Next May?

3. (SBU) Li also predicted that the issue of Taiwan's WHO accession
could be resolved as early as next May. He said a proposal by
Taiwan scholars in Beijing for Taiwan to join WHO under the name
"Chinese Taipei" was gaining traction in Mainland policy circles.
Li believes Taiwan needs to make a concession on the issue, such as
refraining from any written statements that suggest Taiwan would
enter WHO as a country rather than a non-sovereign entity. Li also
said that Beijing has compromised on the issue by dropping its
requirement for Taiwan to join the Mainland's delegation at the WHO.
Fuzhou TAO's Guo seconded Li's comment, saying the Mainland would
not block Taiwan from joining as a "non-sovereign organization."

Increase Contacts by Opening Representative Offices
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) Director General Wu Mingze of the Xiamen TAO told the
Consul General that he expects ARATS and SEF to discuss the opening
of representative offices in one another's territory when the chairs
meet again in this fall. Although neither organization is currently
authorized to negotiate this issue, Wu said, consensus has emerged
that both sides would benefit from increased informal contacts and
the ability to provide citizen services and issue travel documents.
On the other hand, President Liu Guoshen of Xiamen University Taiwan
Research Institute cautioned that Beijing would not be interested in
opening an ARATS office in Taiwan if it were to become a "consulate"
that attracted Taiwan demonstrators during a crisis or local
election. Instead, Xiamen University scholars suggested the most
likely first step would be for each side's official travel agencies
to open offices, followed by a subsequent agreement for ARATS and
SEF offices.

5. (SBU) Xiamen TAO's Wu also confirmed that ARATS Chairman Chen
Yunlin is tentatively planning a Taiwan visit in October 2008,
although the Mainland's official participant list had not yet been
decided. Wu said there was no status or title problem for ARATS-SEF
cross-Strait visits of this type, and Ma Ying-jeou had even
indicated openness to a meeting with Chen Yunlin. However, Wu said
it remains unlikely that Taiwan Vice President Vincent Siew would be
able to visit the Mainland soon because of Taiwan's restrictions on
the level of official representation of this sort. In addition, he
asserted that Beijing could not host Siew without first reaching a
peace agreement.

DPP Seen as Down, But Not Out

GUANGZHOU 00000408 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) The DPP's ability to garner millions of DPP votes in the
general election makes it impossible to ignore the party as an
important political force in Taiwan, according to Fuzhou TAO's Guo.
He argued that the party's future success primarily depends on its
ability to follow the "tide of the times" and attract the support of
the Taiwan public with policies that people need and want. However,
Guo believes this will be a difficult and painful process for the
DPP as the party struggles to unify discordant internal factions and
introduce a new group of leaders who do not currently garner much
influence beyond Taipei. The DPP's "fundamentalist faction" remains
quite strong, in Guo's opinion, which makes consolidation and broad
political success unlikely in the near-term. In response to a
question, He chose not to say anything about Tsai Ing-wen's
political savvy and ability to reinvigorate the DPP.

Hong Kong Economy Unaffected By Cross-Strait Flights
--------------------------------------------- -------

7. (SBU) Xiamen University's Li said the economic impact on Hong
Kong from "direct" chartered flights would not be significant. He
believes the revenue generated by Taiwan's transit passengers is
limited, and Beijing could easily compensate Hong Kong for losses by
opening individual SAR travel to residents of additional Mainland
provinces. On the other hand, Li also suggested that Hong Kong
might benefit in its role as a financial center from expanded
cross-Strait exchanges, especially for services like currency


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