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

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1601/01 3170931
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120931Z NOV 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0357
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8734
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0181

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001601

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: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS, U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN
RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
November 11-12 news coverage on former President Chen Shui-bian, who
was handcuffed and taken into to court Tuesday night as prosecutors
sought his detention on alleged corruption and embezzlement charges;
and on the students staging sit-ins island-wide demanding that the
government amend the Assembly and Parade Law. Nearly all papers
reported that the annual U.S.-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework
Agreements talks scheduled for November have been delayed, because
the U.S. has set comprehensive imports of U.S. beef to Taiwan as its
top priority before all other trade and economic issues. The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a news story on page ten with
the headline "The United States Places Pressure [and Demands That]
All [U.S.] Beef [and Beef Products] Be Exported to Taiwan;
Department of Health Will Not Yield."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed piece in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" criticized the Ma Ying-jeou
administration for giving in too much by signing the four agreements
with China's Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait. An
editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News," on the other
hand, said the opening of the three links across the Taiwan Strait
indicated that from now on, Taiwan can only adopt the political line
of the "Republic of China" and that there is no way for the island
to realize the dream of becoming the "Republic of Taiwan." With
regard to U.S.-China-Taiwan relations, an editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" said "unless the
Obama administration clearly states that the U.S. remains committed
to defending Taiwan, Beijing could reach the conclusion that the
time is ripe for a takeover, especially with Taiwan disunited,
disorganized and dispirited." An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" also urged U.S. president-elect
Barack Obama to "seriously consider the importance of the principle
of 'democratic resolution' in the process of current cross-Strait
relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan in the
formulation of his Asian policy." End summary.

3. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "Too High Are the Political Prices for the Four [Cross-Strait]
Agreements"

Tung Chen-yuan, associate professor at the Graduate Institute of
Development Studies, National Chengchi University, opined in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (11/12):

"... Ever since May 20, the Chinese government has constantly used
economic opening across the Taiwan Strait and cross-Strait talks as
bait to conduct political maneuvering over the Ma Ying-jeou
administration, forcing the latter to make concessions on Taiwan's
sovereignty. The Ma administration, on the other hand, has fallen
nearly unconsciously into the traps set by China and it has no
bargaining chips to strike back at China. If Beijing really
believes that opening Taiwan to the Chinese tourists will benefit
the Taiwan people, why does it only allow 200 Chinese tourists to
come to Taiwan a day as of now -- a far cry from the 3,000 people
targeted by the cross-Strait agreement? President Ma has
acknowledged that the problem lies with Beijing, which was willing
to act in concert [with Taiwan's request]. Even now, [Beijing has
been trying to] cut corners with regard to the agreement reached by
both sides on direct transportation and chartered flights. Is it
because China does not want to meet Taiwan's needs until the Ma
Administration makes more political concessions? The Ma
administration should be vigilant in not devouring the bait and thus
ruin Taiwan's future."

B) "'Three Links' and Their Impact on the 'Republic of Taiwan'"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (11/12):

"... The three links [across the Taiwan Strait] are essential to
Taiwan's economic lifeline, and they are vital for Taiwan's plan to
develop itself into a regional platform or regional hub. But the
political effect brought about by the three links is that from now
on, Taiwan can only adopt the political line of the 'Republic of
China' -- namely, there is no way for Taiwan to realize [its hope of
becoming] the 'Republic of Taiwan.' ...

"When entering the era of direct transportation and three links, it
is also the time for the 'Republic of Taiwan' to reflect on [the
line it adopts]. The DPP must return to the coordination of the
'Republic of China' to demarcate its national identity and
cross-Strait policy. If it continues to remain on the coordination
of the 'Republic of Taiwan' and demarcate its national identity and
cross-Strait policy accordingly, what it does, no matter whether it
decides to debate the policy in the Legislative Yuan or simply take
to the streets to protest, will only split Taiwan, grieving the
Taiwan people while gratifying the enemy. [China's Association for
RELATIONS

Relations across the Taiwan Strait Chairman] Chen Yunlin's visit to
Taiwan has tactfully replaced 'peaceful unification' with 'peaceful
development' without leaving any trace [of the former]. The DPP
should therefore return to the path of the 'Republic of China' from
that of the 'Republic of Taiwan.'

4. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

A) "The Greatest Threat Is Yet to Come"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (11/11):

"Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman
Chen Yunlin was the model of professionalism during his visit to
Taiwan last week. With his smiles, toasts, gifts and handshakes, he
presented to Taiwan - and for those who were watching elsewhere -
the facade that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) technocrats have long
cultivated. As many China watchers have observed, CCP cadres are
increasingly charismatic and professional, driven less by doctrine
and more by political calculation. Part of this strategy has been to
reassure the region and the world about China's intentions as it
grows in power and influence - and to their credit, Beijing's
diplomats have been extremely successful in this regard. ...

"Beijing's ability to hide its true intentions and to beguile the
KMT should not be underestimated. Like a snake charmer, the CCP
appears to have had the KMT government in its thrall since day one.
Outmatched by the CCP, the bungling administration of President Ma
Ying-jeou may, to be fair, have failed to comprehend how divisive
and disruptive Chen's visit would be. But Beijing didn't. It knew
full well what would happen and, relying on Niccolo Machiavelli's
old military trick, used the KMT to drive a wedge within the
Taiwanese polity. The plan worked to perfection, with Taiwanese
turning against Taiwanese in recrimination. A greater pan-green
versus pan-blue divide has emerged, with other factions seeking to
distance themselves from the main parties, while the gap between the
government and the governed, the police and the policed, has
widened. Unable to present a united front, Taiwan has been
weakened.

"The second leg of China's plan played out not in Asia, but in the
US, with the election of Senator Barack Obama. While the
president-elect has yet to prove his mettle, already there is
widespread concern that he will not be as good a friend to Taiwan as
other presidents have been. Whether or not this is true, it is
likely that Beijing will reach that conclusion and do everything it
can - through charm, again - to ensure that Obama stays on its side.
Unless the Obama administration clearly states that the US remains
committed to defending Taiwan, Beijing could reach the conclusion
that the time is ripe for a takeover, especially with Taiwan
disunited, disorganized and dispirited."

B) "Obama Must Develop His Taiwan Policy"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/11):

"After his dramatic victory last Tuesday, we urge United States
president-elect Barack Obama of the Democratic Party to seriously
consider the importance of the principle of "democratic resolution"
in the process of current cross-strait relations between the
People's Republic of China and Taiwan in the formulation of his
Asian policy. ... So far, Obama's foreign policy advisers, in line
with the basic policy basis of the last seven U.S. administrations,
have suggested that "both sides of the Taiwan Strait" should
"peacefully" resolve disputes through dialogue and have lauded what
they see as Ma's efforts to stabilize cross-strait relations since
he took office May 20.

"But last week's demonstrations show that decision-makers in a
"Democratic" administration should not narrowly see cross-strait
affairs as a matter of "reconciliation" between the KMT and the CCP
elites, but as a vital affair that concerns Taiwan's future and the
democratic rights of Taiwan's 23 million people whom decidedly
cannot be represented by the KMT alone. Besides upholding the
'peaceful resolution' of cross-strait disputes, it is no less
essential to insist on 'democratic resolution' or what former
president Bill Clinton referred to in March 2000 as the 'asset of
the Taiwan people.' It is precisely the exclusion of 'democratic
resolution' in the KMT-CCP 'reconciliation' that sparked the massive
demonstrations on Aug. 30, Oct. 25 and Nov. 6 and the spontaneous
'siege' activities against Chen. The bottom line that Obama should
uphold to both the KMT and the PRC is that a democratic America does
not want greater cross-strait cooperation to come at the expense of
Taiwan's democracy and human rights and that the democratic assent
of the Taiwan people is absolutely necessary for lasting peace in
the Taiwan Strait."
RELATIONS


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