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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. And Cross-Strait Relations

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1637/01 3282128
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 232128Z NOV 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0407
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8752
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0206

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001637

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. AND CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS

Subject: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
November 21 news coverage on the looming economic recession in
Taiwan, with its annual GDP growth expected to drop to a seven-year
low for 2008; and on the continuing probe into the money laundering
case allegedly involving the former First Family. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" discussed the possible impact on Taiwan caused by the
fact that China is building its own aircraft carrier and has become
the number one creditor nation of the United States in the aftermath
of the financial crisis. An op-ed in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times," written by a Western writer in
Taipei, said that all the goodwill gestures that China has extended
to Taiwan lately, including sending Association for Relations across
the Taiwan Strait officials to Taiwan and agreeing to Lien Chan's
participation in the APEC summit, will not guarantee peace across
the Taiwan Strait. End summary.

A) "A Horrifyingly Large Gap in Taiwan's National Defense"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (11/21):

"The Ministry of National Defense has confirmed that China is
building an aircraft carrier. China's satellite reconnaissance and
navigation skills have come to maturity, and it is capable of
launching missiles to destroy the satellites of its enemies.
Deployment of its newly developed aircraft carrier killer missiles
has also started. China has become the number one creditor nation
of the United States in the aftermath of the financial crisis. What
are the messages that these four incidents are signaling to Taiwan?

"The signals are clear enough. Let's presume the following
scenario: Countdown of China's military attack against Taiwan has
begun; politically and strategically, China has used deeply
intertwined economic and financial relations between the United
States and China to restrain Washington from interfering with [the
cross-Strait tension], making sure that Washington [knows] it will
have to pay a [high] price for its troubled economy and finance
should it intervene, and thereby creating psychological difficulty
for the U.S. president to send troops to help defend Taiwan.

"Strategically, [China's] satellites will identify the position of
the U.S. aircraft carrier groups, and they can use swarm tactics to
launch a massive amount of missiles to attack in a wide range the
U.S. aircraft carriers coming to Taiwan's aid and thus deal a heavy
blow on the U.S. military. Such a capability will create
psychological problems for the U.S. military when making decisions
about helping Taiwan. Perhaps the U.S. military will try to
interfere or destroy Chinese satellites, radar systems and airborne
electronic warfare reconnaissance aircraft, but still it has to do
so under the risk of missing certain detection opening and thus
being attack [by China]. China's military preparations are aimed at
deterring the U.S. military coming to Taiwan's aid, so the more
resourceful they are the more effective they will be.

"Tactically, when the United States abandons the use of force to
help defend Taiwan, China's aircraft carrier will be able to conduct
a military operation against Taiwan on Taiwan's east coast by
'turning Taiwan inside out'. The Chia Shan military base [in
Hualien], which Taiwan's fighter jets relied on for survival, will
be exposed to the opponent fighters' direct bombardment. Taiwan
also possesses shore-base anti-ship missiles, with limited range
though, while [China's] aircraft carrier is able to launch attacks
from a secure distance. ...

"Therefore, there are many big gaps in Taiwan's defense
[capability], almost to an extent of hopelessness. First, [Taiwan]
does not have the modern advanced military satellites required for
warfare. [Such a circumstance] is just like a blind person fighting
against someone with normal eyesight. Second, the joint operation
capabilities of Taiwan's three services are poor. It is difficult
to bring the joint operation capability into full play with no
satellite link or insufficient skills in electronic warfare. Third,
[Taiwan's] deterrence against attacks, the capability to undertake
retaliatory strikes in deep inside the enemy's territory, is almost
zero. The ability to retaliate against China's shore bases alone
does not constitute deterrence. It is a significant strategic
mistake for Taiwan to give up its research, development and
deployment of middle-range cruise missiles.

"Fourth, the second-generation fighter jets are lagging behind and
there are no capabilities to improve them technically. Fifth,
[Taiwan] army has almost zero long-distance projection capability.
[For Taiwan,] its every war zone can only fight for itself, let
alone attack China's inland bases and its aircraft carrier. Sixth,
the anti-submarine [capability] and the number of submarines that
[Taiwan's] navy possesses may just serve as a specimen and will not
sustain in large-scale warfare. Therefore, the mass production of
middle- and long-range deterrent weapons, including the capability

to strike far inland and against the aircraft carrier, is the key to
the self-defense of an island."

B) "Peace in the Strait? ORBAT Says No"

J. Michael Cole, a writer based in Taipei, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (11/21):

"... All things being equal, the People's Liberation Army (PLA)
Order of Battle (ORBAT) says it all. Despite the cross-strait
rapprochement that we have seen in recent months, the PLA has failed
to deactivate or redirect the odd-1,300 ballistic missiles it aims
at Taiwan, something that even Ma has said would be a road block to
negotiations - that he has chosen to negotiate despite this speaks
volumes. In other words, where confidence-building measures would
be expected to accompany diplomacy, we have seen nothing that
suggests the PLA is reducing its threatening posture. Furthermore,
news this week that the PLA had deployed YJ-62A anti-ship missiles -
that, with a reach of 400km, would bring most of Taiwanese ports
within range - points to continued acceleration and refinement in
range, precision and destructiveness of the arsenal at the PLA's
disposal should it come to war.

"Given the relatively weak Taiwanese navy, it is likely that the
YJ-62As are meant to deter US Navy warships and aircraft carriers,
which could be deployed to the Taiwan Strait should Washington feel
compelled to come to Taiwan's assistance during a military crisis.
Also, despite Beijing's longstanding claims that the modernization
of its military is in line with its growing global responsibilities
rather than directed at Taiwan, the YJ-62A's 400km range means that
their only use is for a Taiwan contingency, as the distance between
Fuzhou and Xianyou, Fujian Province, where most of its DF-11 and
DF-15 short-range missiles - and the YJ-62s - are likely deployed,
and the closest likely target after Taiwan, namely Okinawa, is
between 834km and 903km respectively and thus well beyond range.

"While analysts often confuse 'capability' - in other words, the
ORBAT - with 'intent,' a growing and modernizing ORBAT with
capabilities specific to a given target - in this instance Taiwan -
that occurs parallel to 'peace talks' is either an indication of
malicious intent or the belief by one of the parties to the talks
that a diplomatic resolution to the Taiwan question is unlikely."

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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