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

VZCZCXYZ0008
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1138/01 2170911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040911Z AUG 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9655
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8496
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9712

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001138

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: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused August
2-4 news coverage on the Olympic Games in Beijing; on President Ma
Ying-jeou's call for "workable diplomacy" in Taiwan's foreign
relations; on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan; and on the domestic oil
price adjustment policy. Several papers also reported on U.S.
President George W. Bush's interview with international media
representatives last Wednesday, in which he said he was very pleased
with the current situation in cross-Strait relations. The August 4
edition of centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" ran a banner headline
on page six, quoting outgoing Taiwan representative to the U.S.
Joseph Wu as saying "The United States Should Rank Top ion
[Taiwan's] Diplomatic Strategy."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
discussed U.S. President Bush's latest remarks on the current state
of cross-Strait relations and said it believes "that Bush will most
likely advise [Chinese President] Hu to be more generous in his
dealings with Taipei." An op-ed piece by Richard Halloran, a U.S.
writer based in Hawaii, in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times" discussed Beijing's move to "politicize the
Olympics." The article said Bush's plan to attend the opening
ceremony of the Olympic Games "will be part of that highly charged
political event as the first U.S. president ever to go abroad to the
Olympics." A separate "Taipei Times" editorial, on the other hand,
discussed a recent article written by Jeffrey Bader and Richard Bush
of the Brookings Institute on the future U.S.-China relations if
Democratic Senator Barack Obama were elected as the next U.S.
president. The editorial concluded by saying that "Bader and
Richard Bush's article may be the first signal that Taiwanese
democrats will have no choice but to support Republican Senator John
McCain's presidential candidacy before he has even made a move on
China policy." End summary.

A) "Bush Pleased with Us Again"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (8/3):

"... During a meeting at the White House with Asian media reporters
held on the eve of his last official trip to Asia, President Bush
brought up the issue of Taiwan and his views about the current state
of cross-strait relations. ... In his remarks published yesterday,
Bush revealed for the first time that the U.S. administration indeed
had 'some red lines' that it would not permit Taipei to cross,
namely that 'there would be no unilateral declaration of
independence' by Taiwan. This marked the first time that a sitting
U.S. president has ever publicly stated what observers have known
for many years, namely that the U.S. would not permit our government
to stir up regional tensions by seeking de jure independence.

"In the past, U.S. leaders have couched their warnings in more vague
terms, such as warning that Washington was against any change in the
status quo of the Taiwan Strait by either Beijing or Taipei. Now we
can see that the U.S. viewed Taipei, not Beijing, as the
troublemaker in cross-strait relations during the Chen Shui-bian
era. But at the same time, we can see that Washington is now
satisfied with our current government's policy. So it appears that
our government is finally out of the doghouse in Washington. ...

"The reports have said that Bush will 'inform' [Chinese President]
Hu about the arms sales, rather than make it an issue for further
discussion or negotiation. Based on President Bush's remarks to
reporters in the White House, we believe these reports are probably
true. Indeed, given the sensitive nature of any arms sales to
Taiwan, the best time for the U.S. government to make such sales
come at the tail end of an outgoing president's administration. ...
We believe that Bush will most likely advise Hu to be more generous
in his dealings with Taipei, since it is clear that in his view, we
are no longer deliberately stirring up trouble in the region."

B) "Beijing Politicizing the Olympics"

Richard Halloran, a U.S. writer based in Hawaii, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (8/3):

"To most people outside of Taiwan and China, a dispute over the name
of Taiwan's Olympic team might seem petty. However, the argument has
underscored an elemental point: The Games that open on Friday in
Beijing may be the most politicized since Nazi German dictator Adolf
Hitler sought to enlist the Berlin Olympics of 1936 as evidence of
Aryan racial superiority. Moreover, US President George W. Bush,
who plans to attend the opening ceremony, will be part of that
highly charged political event as the first US president ever to go
abroad to the Olympics. His decision has been mildly controversial:
On one hand, it gives the president an opportunity to engage Chinese
leaders; on the other, it may be seen as reinforcing the oppressive
rule of China's communist regime. ..."


C) "One Strike against Obama's Aides"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (8/2):

"It may seem premature to assess the benefits for Taiwan that the US
presidential candidates may offer after gaining office. Yet there
are hints of things to come from the Democrats based on the written
word. An article by Jeffrey Bader and Richard Bush of the Brookings
Institution released this week suggests that if Democratic Senator
Barack Obama were president, then Taiwanese who value democracy have
reason to be even more nervous than they are now. ... Bader and
Richard Bush's article may be the first signal that Taiwanese
democrats will have no choice but to support Republican Senator John
McCain's presidential candidacy before he has even made a move on
China policy. The authors are reportedly awaiting senior positions
in an Obama administration, which lends weight to these fears. In
Richard Bush's case, the article is particularly disappointing: As a
former American Institute in Taiwan chairman, he was well placed to
understand that the situation in China is far more complex than the
article's banal allusions to the Chinese psyche might admit. ...

"The suggestion that Washington's dealings with China 'should be
offered in the spirit of trying to help them help themselves, not in
order to judge them as morally deficient' is even harder to sustain
given that the Chinese government is morally deficient. Such a
government - with its litany of abuses of the weakest members of its
society and its morally vacuous conduct in the international sphere,
most recently seen in protecting Zimbabwe from UN sanctions and even
in its humiliation of the International Olympic Committee - cannot
be trusted to "help itself" when it already considers itself beyond
Washington's reproach, or anyone's reproach, for that matter. ...
If this kind of rationalization of Chinese misrule, aggression and
disingenuousness fairly reflects an Obama administration's take on
US-China relations, there will be no 'change we can believe in' as
far as Taiwanese are concerned. Instead, there will only be cause
for despair as the pro-China network settles in for yet another
term, comfortable in the knowledge that Obama will have neither the
incentive nor the intellectual support to help Taiwan recover the
ground that it is losing."

YOUNG

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