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

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1331/01 2520854
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080854Z SEP 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9913
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8588
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0034

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001331

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, U.S. DEFENSE
STRATEGY

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage September 6-8 on the Ma Ying-jeou Administration's various
moves to stimulate Taiwan's sluggish economy, following extensive
and severe criticisms against President Ma's failure to realize his
economic platform in his first 100 days in office; on the continued
probe into former President Chen Shui-bian's money laundering case;
and on an announcement by China's Taiwan Affairs Office on Sunday to
expand exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" said President Ma's cross-Strait
policy, which allegedly favors China, has made Ma a troublemaker to
the United States, as evidenced by the United States's alleged
refusal to sell Taiwan F-16C/D fighter jets. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" also criticized
Ma's arbitrary definition of cross-Strait relations as "a special
non-state-to-state relationship," saying that the move has
downgraded Taiwan's sovereignty. An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post," on the other hand,
hailed U.S. President George W. Bush's change in his defense
strategy by placing the "long war" against extremism above
conventional challenges from China and Russia. End summary.

3. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

A) "[Taiwan's] Three Major Bargaining Chips Have Suffered Severe
Erosion"

Former DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui opined in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 300,000] (9/7):

"Judging from the United States' decision to turn down the F-16 C/D
fighter jets deal [to Taiwan], [it appears that] President Ma
Ying-jeou has got himself in rather big diplomatic trouble with the
United States.

"China must be very happy that Ma has ruined Taiwan's relations with
the United States, but what Beijing offered Ma was not rewards.
During the former Chen Shui-bian Administration, it was normally
Beijing that took the initiative to talk about the three-link issue
[with Taiwan]. Now, with the second round of negotiations between
the Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for
Relations across the Taiwan Strait looming, Taiwan was eager to
propose issues [to Beijing], but Beijing has been lukewarm in
response in terms of what issues need to be discussed or even
whether there are issues that really need to be discussed. What's
even worse is that Beijing has turned around and blamed Ma for being
too rude by demanding immediately after he was elected that Beijing
honor his two [campaign] checks about launching direct chartered
flights on July 4 and allowing Mainland tourists to [come to]
Taiwan. It appears that [China] is about to follow the lead of the
United States in treating Ma as a troublemaker.

"... When it comes to foreign relations, China is an old hand at
manipulating power politics. China is clearly aware that for Taiwan
to be able to stand up in front of Beijing, the island must in
principle possess three major bargaining chips: First, the United
States must treat Taiwan as a friend; second, there must be an
internal pro-independence force in Taiwan that is strongly opposed
to unification [with China]; and third, Taiwan's [must possess its]
own economic strength. These three major bargaining chips have all
undergone severe erosion since President Ma assumed office. First,
Ma's ambiguous concept of sovereignty and his position of 'putting
cross-Strait [relations] ahead of [the island's] foreign relations'
as well as the strategies derived from such a position have resulted
in Washington's reduced support for Taiwan; [the United States']
refusal to sell F16C/D fighter jets to Taiwan is in itself a very
strong indicator [of lowered U.S. support]. Second, even though
public opinion in Taiwan supporting Taiwan independence is still
mounting, the DPP, a leader of the pro-Taiwan independence power,
has already stepped down following a severe [electoral] defeat.
High-ranking KMT officials, on the other hand, have been striving
and rushing to visit Beijing in order to fawn on China. Finally,
the Ma Administration has totally given up on Taiwan's economic
development based on its own initiative, and all it wants is to rely
completely on China.

"Given that [Taiwan's] three major bargaining chips have been
severely eroded Beijing certainly believes now is the best time for
it to further compress Taiwan's road for survival in the
international community. Surely it does not have to behave politely
toward Taiwan any more. ... If the Ma Administration continues not
to adjust its cross-Strait and diplomatic strategies that invite
insult, then Taiwan will only sink deeper in its predicament."

B) "Ma's Confusion is Taiwan's Disaster"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
STRATEGY

20,000] editorialized (9/8):

"... Ma's arbitrary redefinition of 'special state-to-state
relations' into 'region to region' relations is by no means
harmless. His definition of Taiwan as a 'region' undermines our
claim to full, equal and distinct representation in the
international community as a democratic independent state and
negates the right of democratic self-determination of our 23 million
people under the principle of 'people's sovereignty' embraced by Lee
and underlining the DPP's May 1999 'Resolution on the Future of
Taiwan.'

"Ma's redefinition also opens questions about his own status, namely
whether he considers himself to be the constitutionally mandated
head of state of the state composed of Taiwan's 23 million citizens,
the 'chief executive' of a 'region' or, megalomanically, the sole
legitimate 'president' of a 'great ROC' including over 1.3 billion
people in the PRC, Mongolia and Taiwan. ... We call on Ma either to
retract his statement, submit his definition that Taiwan is merely a
'region' for approval or rejection by our 23 million citizens
through national referendum or resign his post for having won
election through fraud."

4. U.S. Defense Strategy

"A Change in U.S. Defense Strategy"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (9/8):

"President George W. Bush is making, belatedly, a change in U.S.
defense strategy. He has to step down early next year and nobody
knows his successor in the White House may change that change again.
But Bush's change makes sense. The United States now places the
'long war' against extremism above potential conventional challenges
from China and Russia s the top priority of the military in the
coming years. It's the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that made the
Pentagon to change the strategy despite a steady and huge defense
buildup in China and an invasion by Russia of its former Soviet
republic of Georgia during the Summer Olympics in Beijing. ...

"It seems that Washington has finally come to accept the plain truth
that neither Russia nor China is a real potential enemy. The Pax
Americana makes the United States the world's policeman. It has to
see to it that it has more and better asymmetrical military
capabilities to wage the long war against violent extremist
movements."

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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