Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations
DE RUEHIN #1650/01 3292311
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 242311Z NOV 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0441
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8757
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0211
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001650
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
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 22-24 on the cabinet's policy of issuing
consumption vouchers; on the probe into former President Chen
Shui-bian's alleged corruption; and on the economic predicament of
the world and of Taiwan. In terms of editorials and commentaries,
an editorial in the pro-independence "Liberty Times" satirized the
Ma Ying-jeou Administration for having taken several
self-disparaging measures to please China but only receiving China's
continued suppression of Taiwan's international status in return.
An editorial in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" said that
now is the time for the issue regarding Taiwan's international
participation to be put on the table. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" criticized that
the meeting between Taiwan's special envoy to APEC summit, Lien
Chan, and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the margins of the summit
was nothing more than symbolic for both Taiwan and China. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
urged the Ma Administration to stop appeasing China and forge
consensus with Taiwan's political opposition on cross-Strait policy.
In contrast to the pro-independence newspapers' criticism, the
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post" gave
credit to the Lima meeting between Lien and Hu. End summary.
A) "The So-Called 'Chinese Goodwill' Is Only the Ma Administration's
Lie to Deceive Itself as Well as Others"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"Lien Chan, who once served as [Taiwan's] Vice President, was
allowed to attend the APEC [summit] and was the highest-level envoy
in history to represent our country's leader [at the summit].
Therefore, the Ma Ying-jeou Administration bragged about [this
development] as China's show of goodwill and a significant
breakthrough in [the Administration's] cross-Strait policy.
However, the meeting between Lien and [Chinese President] Hu
[Jintao], with Lien called by 'Chairman Lien' and Hu called 'General
Secretary Hu,' fell to the level of a meeting between the KMT and
the Chinese Communist Party. Or it was only catching up between old
friends, not even a meeting at all. Especially when Lien mentioned
the issue of Taiwan's participation in international organizations,
Hu turned a deaf ear and evaded the important issues for the easy
one. These all made the Ma Administration's so-called breakthrough
[in cross-Strait relations] and [China's show of] goodwill become a
lie which deceives [the Ma Administration] as well as others. ...
"The Ma Administration thought that by fawning on China as much as
possible, including self-disparaging sovereignty, recognizing the
fictitious 1992 consensus, implementing the diplomatic truce by
which [Taiwan] surrenders without fighting, and undertaking the
tactic of procrastinating on the arms procurement [from the United
States], China will respond with goodwill and give Taiwan
international space for [Taiwan's] survival. However, judging from
the evidence of several developments recently, the Chinese goodwill
that President Ma was self-congratulatory about was only [Ma's]
self-intoxication. No matter who holds the reins of the [Taiwan]
government, China does not loosen its hand when it suppresses
B) "It's Time to Put the Issue Regarding [Taiwan's] International
Space Should Be Put on the Table"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"... Several incidents that happened lately indicated that the
cross-Strait relations in the wake of the meeting between [Straits
Exchange Foundation Chairman] P.K. Chiang and [China's Association
for Relations across the Taiwan Strait Chairman] Chen Yunlin have
embarked on a new round of the feeling-out process. ... First,
following the four agreements signed between Chiang and Chen, the
differences and barriers between both sides of the Taiwan Strait in
terms of policies on non-political issues, such as direct
transportation, tourism and business have been resolved one by one.
The issue regarding Taiwan's participation in the international
organizations has been put on the table eventually right now. Given
the current state of the cross-Strait relations, now is perhaps the
real beginning of the test [for both sides].
"Second, it will be overly optimistic to say now that the Ma
Administration's pragmatic cross-Strait policy has pushed the other
side of the Taiwan Strait to adopt a more flexible and pragmatic
approach towards Taiwan's future participation in the international
organizations and activities, or even, we can say everything is
still up in the air now. In addition, even though as of now there
is absolutely no sign showing that Beijing will possibly adopt a
more flexible approach towards Taiwan's participation in
international organizations and activities, it is at least evident
that Beijing is no longer interested in using any drastic means to
sabotage the atmosphere across the Taiwan Strait. Voices inside
Beijing also admitted that this is an issue that needs to be
resolved and that it should be done by initiating dialogue between
both sides. Should these messages really indicate that both sides
are deliberating about a new phase of dialogue, the development will
be welcomed by all. ... But as what is said previously, now both
sides are just beginning to touch on the sensitive areas of
cross-Strait issues, which will naturally have repercussions on the
nerves of both sides. ..."
C) "More Hot Air than Substance in Lima"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (11/24):
"Former vice president Lien Chan met Chinese President Hu Jintao at
the APEC leaders' summit in Lima on Friday. APEC is one of a
handful of international bodies of which Taiwan is an official
member and this was the first time such senior Taiwanese and Chinese
leaders met at one of its summits. The meeting was symbolic for
both sides, but nothing more than that. Although the meeting was an
indication of reduced cross-strait tension, Taiwan should not rush
to celebrate. In no way does it mean that China is willing to
recognize Taiwan's sovereignty, or that Taiwan can now deal with
China on an equal footing internationally. Beijing's leadership saw
the meeting as one between friends that had nothing to do with
Taiwan's international status. ...
"Although US President George W. Bush is a lame duck leader, he is
still the head of a great power. Diplomacy therefore required that
he hold a bilateral meeting with Hu. The two did not depart from
the standpoints they have held at past meetings. ... No great
practical results were to be expected from Hu's meetings with either
Lien or Bush, but his meeting with Bush was a dialog between equals,
while that with Lien was an exercise in control through
conciliation. Although the Lima summit was the first at which
Taiwan has been represented by such a senior figure as a former vice
president, and although he managed to meet the Chinese president,
this shows only that China is taking a more flexible approach in its
dealings with Taiwan. It does not signify any change in Beijing's
'one China' policy. Taiwan should not allow the APEC meeting to lull
it into a false sense of security."
D) "Consensus Needed on PRC Policy"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/24):
"Over the past decade, Taiwan's cross-strait policy toward the
People's Republic of China has gone from a stance of 'no haste, be
patient' initiated by former president Lee Teng-hui through
'effective management and active openness' enunciated by
ex-president Chen Shui-bian to the 'relentless opening with wishful
thinking' adopted by President Ma Ying-jeou and his restored Chinese
Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government. On the surface, the past
seven months of KMT government have featured the resumption of
bilateral dialogue and intensive interaction between Taipei and
Beijing, but the underlying reality is that Taiwan's sovereignty has
been undermined by a series of unnecessary political concessions
made by the Ma government for the sake of forging a superficially
peaceful but dangerously unequal relationship with Beijing. ...
"Last weekend's meeting between PRC State Chairman Hu Jintao and
Taiwan leader representative and KMT honorary chairman Lien Chan
alongside of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders'
summit in Lima, Peru illustrated the perils of such unbalanced
cross-strait relations. ... More substantively, Ma's hopes that his
acceptance of the so-called 'Consensus of 1992' and its 'one China'
principle and signing agreements on direct links during the visit by
PRC envoy Chen Yunlin earlier this month would lead Beijing to
return the KMT government some favors, such as allowing Taiwan World
Health Assembly status, have also been dashed.
"Instead, the image projected by the PRC spinners in the APEC summit
is that the two sides have moved toward Beijing's 'one China'
formula as symbolized by the warm hand-shaking between Lien and Hu
at a prominent global forum. All Ma has achieved through his blind
rush for rapprochement with Beijing has been the dramatic reduction
of Taiwan's own stock of bargaining chips without gaining any clear
and certain concessions from the PRC. Even worse, neither has Ma
engaged in any hedging of his cross-strait campaign if the touted
drive toward cross-strait detente falters, thus leaving Taiwan's
fragile relations with its diplomatic allies vulnerable to a
disastrous domino effect if Beijing fails to abide by Ma's
unilateral 'diplomatic truce.' ...
"Instead of blindly rushing down the road to Taiwan's perdition, the
Ma administration should renounce its failed policy of appeasement,
end the secret KMT-CCP forum's control over cross-strait talks and
initiate a consultative process with Taiwan's political opposition,
civil society and public for a national consensus on a China policy
that can safeguard and not mortgage Taiwan's national interests."
E) "APEC Summit Bodes Well for Cross-Strait Ties"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (11/22):
"... For Taiwan, the Lima summit marks a milestone in the evolving
cross-strait relations. It also promises economic and political
opportunities for both Taiwan and the mainland. Lien Chan, a former
vice president of the Republic of China and honorary chairman of the
ruling Kuomintang, is representing President Ma Ying-jeou to the
meeting. Never before since 1993, when former U.S. President Bill
Clinton hosted the first leaders' meeting in Seattle, has Taiwan
been able to send such a high-caliber envoy to the meeting. ...
"The fact that Lien Chan is acceptable to Beijing symbolizes a
cross-strait detente which he helped usher in. In 2005, Lien, then
chairman of the KMT who lost the 2004 presidential election to Chen
Shui-bian under suspicious circumstances, made a 'journey of peace'
to Beijing as the guest of his Chinese communist counterpart Hu
Jintao. The historic Lien-Hu meet broke the ice and started a thaw.
Ma Ying-jeou's triumph in the March election, largely on a platform
of engagement with Beijing instead of confrontation, has accelerated
the thaw, as manifested in the resumption of dialogue and the first
visit to Taiwan early this month by China's envoy Chen Yunlin of the
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait to sign four
economic accords with his counterpart P. K. Chiang of the Strait
Exchange Foundation. ...
"It requires great wisdom for both of them to seize the opportunity
to advance cross-strait relations which are so vital to the
interests of both. Taiwan's economic future depends heavily on
mainland China, the largest source of the island's trade surplus.
This year, Taiwan's economy could tumble to a growth rate of 1.87
per cent, the lowest in seven years, according to official
estimates. Closer economic ties with the mainland, a locomotive for
global economy, are the best way for Taiwan to weather the economic
downturn. For Beijing, peace and stability across the Strait is
vital to its continued economic growth and its pursuit of a
'harmonious society.' There is common ground for seeking closer and
better ties despite ideological differences. A win-win situation is
possible and worth pursuing. Lima is a touchstone."