Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Talks, U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1565/01 3100941
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050941Z NOV 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0273
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8708
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0155
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001565
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: CROSS-STRAIT TALKS, U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: The four agreements signed between Taiwan's Straits
Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman P.K. Chiang and China's
Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman
Chen Yunlin Tuesday concerning the three links across the Taiwan
Strait received extensive coverage in Taiwan November 5. In
addition, news coverage also focused on the U.S. presidential
election; on the detention of former Presidential Office Deputy
Secretary-General Ma Yung-cheng Tuesday for allegedly assisting
former President Chen Shui-bian in embezzling from the state affairs
fund; and on the various demonstrations staged by the DPP against
the SEF-ARATS meetings.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" lambasted the agreements signed
between SEF and ARATS, calling them a letter of intent for the KMT
and the Chinese Communist Party to "co-manage Taiwan." An editorial
in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" said "the
core significance of the KMT-CCP reconciliation" was to form "an
alliance against Taiwan's democracy, independence and the welfare"
of the Taiwan people. An editorial in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times," by contrast, urged the public to applaud the Ma
Administration for its efforts in facilitating the three links
across the Taiwan Strait. An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" also hailed the
beginning of the "three links era" across the Taiwan Strait. An
op-ed piece in the pro-unification "United Daily News," on the other
hand, discussed Washington's offer to resume exchange of visits by
ministerial-level trade and economic officials between the United
States and Taiwan. The article cautioned the Taiwan government to
watch out for tangible and intangible pressure behind such a
diplomatic gift offered by the United States. End summary.
3. Cross-Strait Talks
A) "Dictatorship, a Written Contract by Which One Sells Oneself!"
The "Free Talk" column in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 700,000] wrote (11/5):
"[Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman] P.K. Chiang and
[China's Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait
Chairman] Chen Yunlin signed four agreements Tuesday. But judging
from the hidden political intent of the Chinese authorities and the
Ma Ying-jeou Administration, it was akin to signing a letter of
intent for 'the KMT-CCP dictatorship to co-manage Taiwan.' Both
sides claimed that this is a big step in the history of cross-Strait
relations, but in reality, it is a stride compelling Taiwan to move
towards 'ultimate unification' [with China]!
"What concealed behind the four agreements signed between Chiang and
Chen is the 'one China common market,' which will box Taiwan in the
one China framework and make it move from 'economically one China'
to 'politically one China' in the future. Taiwan will confront the
crisis of being annexed by China, and its future destiny is quite
B) "The Political Meanings of the Taiwan-PRC Talks"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/5):
"... However, the results of the People's Republic of China's chief
cross-strait negotiator and the actual Chiang-Chen talks have fallen
far short of a 'win-win,' unless we are referring only to the KMT
and the PRC's ruling Chinese Communist Party and their associated
business interests and sycophants. ... The exposure of the core
significance of the KMT-CCP reconciliation as an alliance against
Taiwan's democracy, independence and the welfare of the majority of
our 23 million people is the most important political significance
of the visit by PRC envoy, or should we say, 'governor general' Chen
C) "View the Four Agreements Reached at the Chiang-Chen Meeting with
a Positive Attitude"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 220,000]
"... When running for the presidency, President Ma Ying-jeou
proposed that he would complete the three links across the Taiwan
Strait in two years. At this moment when the international
financial tsunami is bringing about an economic downturn in Taiwan,
and most people are severely criticizing Ma for failing to keep his
campaign promises, [we] must give the Ma Administration applause to
affirm [his efforts], particularly given the highly sensitive state
of cross-Strait issues. When political differences across the
Taiwan Strait remain deadlocked and the ruling and opposition
parties in Taiwan have diverged widely in their views [on many
issues], using matters concerning the people's livelihood and
economy as the theme for cross-Strait policy is the only way to
serve the interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
This is a position to which the Ma Administration must stick. ..."
D) "'Three Links' Realized at Last"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (11/5):
"... After a break lasting nearly 59 years, both sides of the Taiwan
Strait have finally agreed to resume regularized direct bilateral
aviation, shipping and postal links. ... While the 'three links'
will begin to be restored in 40 days' time, our government remains
able to cut them off in the event that Beijing engages in hostile
acts against us. Yesterday's agreement did not make any concessions
regarding the issue of the Republic of China's sovereignty. It also
did not grant Beijing any degree of control over our airspace,
territorial waters or postal operations system. Instead, both sides
were careful to avoid using terms in the agreement referring to
sensitive political issues so that substantive results could be
achieved. While we are glad to see the 'three links' era begin, we
also hope that both sides will continue maintaining the current
spirit of pragmatism so that even more mutually beneficial
arrangements can be achieved in the near future."
4. U.S.-Taiwan Relations
"Watch out for the United States' Big Gift!"
Huang Kwei-bo, Fulbright Visiting Scholars, The Johns Hopkins
University, opined in the pro-unification "United Daily News"
[circulation: 400,000] (11/5):
"With the atmosphere across the Taiwan Strait turning less tense,
even the U.S. government has formally told (or in reality,
instructed) [Taiwan] via AIT that the exchange of visits by
ministerial-level economic and trade officials [between the two
sides] can be resumed. This is, without a doubt, good news, in
terms of advancing the contact level between the two governments.
But judging from the contents of the trade and economic interactions
and talks between Taiwan and the United States, perhaps we need to
be more careful. ... It is not because Washington is going to adjust
its cross-Strait policy, and certainly not because it wants to
contain or deal a blow to Beijing that the United States is willing
to enhance the level of economic interactions with Taiwan.
"As a matter of fact, the United States has not slowed down its pace
in demanding that other countries, particularly those 'small and
weak allies' (such as Taiwan), lift their ban on the U.S. products,
because of its domestic problems mentioned above. The United States
has never loosened its grip on issues that concern it most, such as
livestock products, intellectual property rights, and so on, and
both the previous and incumbent Taiwan administrations have been
under great pressure [because of this].
"If certain restrictions on the visits to Taiwan by U.S.
cabinet-level economic or trade officials were to be removed, it
will be akin to giving the Taiwan government a diplomatic gift. But
behind such a gift there is pressure, both tangible and intangible;
if our government, [under great pressure,] makes a mistake (or fails
to stick to our ground) during the negotiations, all the Taiwan
people will have to pay. Tangible pressure, for example, refers to
instances such as how relevant Taiwan officials are going to say
'no' while not offending the United States when a U.S. cabinet-level
official visits Taiwan. Intangible pressure, on the other hand,
refers to cases such as when Washington sends a ministerial-level to
Taiwan, and the Taiwan government surely has to show him/her some
favors and gives him/her some [good] results that s/he can bring
back [to the United States]. Will such 'results' be like following
the U.S. demand to minimize our concerns about mad-cow disease and
open our market to U.S. beef without any limits? Finally the U.S.
cabinet-level economic and trade officials are allowed to visit
Taiwan. But the impact that this good news will generate on
Taiwan's economic and trade benefits and on our economic policy
toward the United States is really something that the Taiwan people
as a whole must study carefully and supervise all the time."