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Cablegate: Media Reaction: President Ma Ying-Jeou's Cross-Strait

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1349/01 2550909
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110909Z SEP 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9931
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8594
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0043

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001349

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: PRESIDENT MA YING-JEOU'S CROSS-STRAIT
POLICY

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage September 11 on the Ma Ying-jeou Administration's decision
to cut the securities transaction tax to boost domestic economy; and
on the continued probe into former President Chen Shui-bian's
alleged corruption cases. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" and
its sister paper, the English-language "Taipei Times," continued
running reports on recently-issued State Department guidelines
governing contacts between Taiwan and U.S. officials and speculated
on the current status of Washington's Taiwan policy. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" criticized President Ma Ying-jeou's
cross-Strait policy direction and lamented that Ma has tossed away
almost all the cards Taiwan can play in the game across the Taiwan
Strait. An op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" also chimed in, saying that Ma's definition of a "special
non-state-to-state relationship" is tantamount to "a unilateral
change in the status quo that will have a serious impact on
cross-Strait relations, Taiwan's international exchanges and the
future of Taiwan's democracy." End summary.

A) "Ma Ying-jeou has Tossed away Too Many Cards Too Early"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 300,000]
editorialized (9/11):

"... President Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT administration's position in
opposition toward Taiwan independence has already stripped Taiwan of
the cards of 'Taiwan independence' and 'one China one Taiwan' that
it can play in the game between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
It goes without saying that this has been the consistent position
held by the KMT, but in terms of the remaining cards it holds, [Ma]
has again discarded those such as 'dual recognition,' 'two Chinas'
and 'state-to-state." As it stands, what other cards doe Taiwan
still have other than the 'one China' and 'unification' cards? ...

"During the very long period of cross-Strait confrontations, there
is not a single moment that we do not believe we are a nation with
independent and complete sovereignty, and there is not a single
moment that we have stopped hoping that other people will recognize
us as such. But such a sense of certainty and desire seems to have
faded away since the Ma Administration took office. ... Disputes can
be put aside, but not [a country's] sovereignty; neither should we
set aside all our moves to safeguard our sovereignty. We believe
President Ma has no intention to make concessions in terms of
[Taiwan's] sovereignty, but given the always-changing cross-Strait
situations, Ma, as a state head, must be prudent and vigilant at all
times. Any bit of negligence, unilateral goodwill gesture, or
seemingly harmless concessions will likely eat away bit by bit at
Taiwan's national interests or even gradually result in unredeemable
crises. ..."

B) "Non-State to State Risks 'Status quo'"

Lai I-chung, an executive committee member of Taiwan Thinktank and
former director of the DPP's Department of International Affairs,
opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (9/11):

"President Ma Ying-jeou's first interview with an international
media outlet after the end of the Beijing Olympics sent shock waves
through the international community after he said cross-strait
relations are a 'non-state-to-state special relationship.' Ma's
proclamation of Taiwan's position forgoes the sovereignty that
former presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian insisted on
following democratization of the country, and firmly returns Taiwan
to the 'one country, two governments' or the 'one country, two
regions' framework. Ma's move is tantamount to a unilateral change
to the 'status quo' that will have a serious impact on cross-strait
relations, Taiwan's international exchanges and the future of
Taiwan's democracy. The cross-strait 'status quo' may change by
2012, just as the international community fears.

"Ma defined the relationship between Taiwan and China as a
'non-state-to-state special relationship.' If we combine this
proposition with the 'one China with different interpretations' and
the idea that Taiwan is not a country but a region, Ma is clearly
telling the world that Taipei recognizes Taiwan as a part of China,
and that both Taipei and Beijing are two governments in 'one China'
and that this is why the special relationship came about. ... China
should be pleased with Ma's proclamation because it also means the
Taiwanese government has accepted the 'Anti-Secession' Law and
recognizes that the Civil War is ongoing, which means that the two
sides have yet to achieve de facto unification but that de jure
unification is already a fact.

"If the government has accepted that Taiwan is part of China, Taiwan
is, legally speaking, no different than a separate region controlled
by a local warlord. This gives more legitimacy to Beijing's demands
POLICY

that other countries not recognize Taiwan; that approval from
Beijing is required for Taiwanese applications for membership in
international organizations; and that the US not sell weapons to
rebellious Taiwan. ... Ma's biggest problem lies in the fact that
his proposition is not recognized or accepted by the majority of
Taiwanese. ..."

YOUNG

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