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Cablegate: Director's 10/6 Meeting with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen

VZCZCXRO5900
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHHM
DE RUEHIN #1470/01 2890711
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150711Z OCT 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0119
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8649
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 3670
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 2264
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2856
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6814
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1444
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0098
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0387

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 001470

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON TW
SUBJECT: Director's 10/6 Meeting with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (SBU) Summary: In her October 6 meeting with Director Young,
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu briefed on the city's 2009 World Games
preparations and sought U.S. help on counterterrorism information
exchange and screening incoming foreign athletes. Chen positively
assessed DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen's performance to date and agreed
with the Director's comment that former President Chen's legal
troubles would complicate Tsai's party reform efforts. She hoped
that Chen Shui-bian's case would wrap up quickly so that Tsai would
have a stronger hand leading into December 2009 county/city/local
elections. Mayor Chen's own 2010 reelection prospects are still
cloudy, but if she runs, she will need Tsai's help to protect her
from the city's already fierce DPP intra-factional struggles. End
summary.

2. (SBU) During his October 6-7 visit to southern Taiwan, Director
Young called on Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu. Chen has recently
enjoyed a slight popularity uptick as she increases her public
profile after months of limited visibility due to a stroke suffered
late last year. In a sign of her interest in a 2010 re-election
bid, Chen last month replaced one of her two Deputy Mayors with a
DPP stalwart who specializes in public relations. Currently, Chen's
main focus is preparing Kaohsiung for the 2009 World Games, during
which the city will host 4,500 athletes from 100 countries competing
in 37 sports.

World Games: Seeking Help on Screening Athletes
--------------------------------------------- --

3. (SBU) Mayor Chen stressed that all of the city's World Games
facilities would be completed on time and within budget. A
15,000-seat domed stadium, one of two large-scale infrastructure
projects for the Games, had its soft opening on September 27,
several weeks ahead of schedule. Public financing covered USD50
million of the domed stadium's USD 263 million price tag, she
explained, with a leading local firm, Han Shen Corporation, funding
the rest under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model. The other
major project, a 40,000-seat main stadium, was 93% complete and
would be finished by January 15, 2009, six months before the World
Games' July 16 opening ceremony.

4. (SBU) Chen invited the Director and other U.S. officials to
attend the games and encouraged U.S. businesses to come to Kaohsiung
in the near future to participate in World Games sponsorship
activities. Chen insisted that the PRC should not have any problems
with Kaohsiung hosting the games, since the Kaohsiung Organizing
Committee (KOC) would abide by its commitment not to use the games
as a political platform and would utilize the long-accepted IOC
model for handling Taiwan. The ROC flag would not be displayed at
official World Games activities, she promised, but the KOC could not
control ordinary Taiwan citizens who wanted to wave the ROC flag on
their own accord.

5. (SBU) Noting that the KOC was pressing Taiwan's authorities to
implement a visa-free regime for foreign athletes attending the
games, Chen asked whether the U.S. could offer counterterrorism
intelligence assistance. She also solicited U.S. help in finding a
way to "screen" athletes from higher-risk areas, like the former
Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Emphasizing our strong desire to
see the Games proceed as safely as possible, as well as our global
effort to combat terrorism, DIR promised to seek guidance on Mayor
Chen's requests and get back to her later.

DPP Reform: Grappling with CSB Legacy
-------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Asked to assess DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen's performance to
date, Chen said that as a member of the DPP's Central Standing
Committee, she could personally vouch for Tsai's effective party
leadership. Tsai represented a new generation of DPP leadership,
and DPP supporters had high expectations of her. Chen predicted
that Tsai would have a positive impact on Taiwan's society because
she had a clean reputation and was too young to harbor deep-seated
feelings of retribution over the 1979 Formosa incident.

7. (SBU) Chen agreed with the Director's comment that former
President Chen Shui-bian's ongoing legal troubles would complicate
Tsai's DPP reform efforts. Mayor Chen commented that former

TAIPEI 00001470 002 OF 002


President Chen and the DPP were closely intertwined. Chen brought
glory to the DPP by winning the Presidency and effected an historic
peaceful transfer of power from the KMT to the DPP. Over the last
15 years, she explained, people had become used to having Chen as
part of the political landscape. Given Chen's prominence, his
current fall from grace had been especially damaging to the party.
DPP supporters needed to know why the Chen family transferred money
overseas. Those actions surprised the party faithful, since the DPP
had long condemned such behavior by the KMT.

8. (SBU) Nevertheless, she stated, former President Chen still had
many ardent supporters, especially in southern Taiwan. They
sympathized with Chen's line that the KMT was persecuting him
unfairly. However, she added, most DPP supporters agreed that
Chen's case should be pursued through the legal process and that the
party should not be forced to defend him. The DPP therefore had no
choice but to ask Chen to leave the party. Asked whether Chen's
case and Ma's declining popularity would encourage a return of the
DPP's "old guard," Mayor Chen expressed her belief that the old
guard would remain in the background and let a younger generation
gain experience.

2009 Elections: Eyeing DPP Future without CSB
---------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) The Director underscored to Mayor Chen that the U.S.
viewed positively President Ma's current efforts to reduce
cross-strait tensions and strengthen peaceful dialogue between the
two sides. Chen replied that a key question was whether Ma's
cross-strait policy was actually in line with Taiwan's national
interest. She underscored her view that Ma should seek consensus in
Taiwan on the substance of his dialogue with China before signing
agreements. While the DPP agreed with the need for peaceful
dialogue, she explained, the party was primarily focused on whether
Taiwan's interests were fully protected in the course of the
dialogue.

10. (SBU) Chen declined to comment on her 2010 re-election
prospects, noting that the DPP's main focus was December 2009
county/city/local "3-in-1" elections. She acknowledged that the
specter of former President Chen's legal case posed a problem for
the DPP. She hoped that Chen's case would be resolved quickly so
that Tsai could lead the party into those elections without such a
burden. Mayor Chen stressed that the DPP's future course should
have nothing to do with former President Chen and that Taiwan's
democratization process would benefit from consigning Chen to
history.

Comment
-------

11. (SBU) Mayor Chen's positive assessment of Tsai's performance
contrasts with more lukewarm reactions the Director received from
other southern Taiwan DPP officials we visited on this trip
(septel). Chen strongly supported Tsai's DPP chair candidacy,
observing to us that Tsai's success could advance Chen's 2010
reelection prospects. Chen has long decried DPP factional politics,
and fierce inter and intra-factional DPP squabbling in Kaohsiung has
already given rise to widespread media rumors that Chen's DPP
detractors are seeking to replace her with a stronger candidate to
run in 2010. Chen was not the party favorite when she first ran in
2006, and with an opposing faction already having secured Kaohsiung
City's DPP chairmanship, Chen will need the patronage of a secure
and stable Tsai to bolster her reelection bid. End comment.

CASTRO

WANG

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