Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #0204/01 0570924
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260924Z FEB 10
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3405
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9708
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1094
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000204
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - THOMAS HAMM
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused February
26 news coverage on Saturday's legislative by-elections; on the
government's plan to lower the business income tax rate for
multinational corporations; and on other domestic political issues.
In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan
and said it is likely that Taiwan will be able to purchase F-16
fighter jets from the United States. A news analysis in the
KMT-leaning "China Times," on the other hand, discussed the
"strategic cultural difference" between China and the United States.
A) "Arms Sales to Taiwan -- Fervent on the U.S. Side but Cold on
Fu S. Mei, the Director of Taiwan Security Analysis Center, opined
in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000]
"... The [prospect for the] F-16 fighter jets deal is not as
pessimistic as some commentators believe to be, and the key lies in
the decision-making timing. Not long ago, high-ranking U.S. Foreign
Service officers told U.S. [arms] manufacturers that both the State
Department and the Pentagon support this deal, pending a go-ahead
from the National Security Council and the White House. According
to the understanding of this writer, the Pentagon has received
orders to draft a more detailed and broader classified report for
the high-ranking decision makers. It takes approximately half a
year to get such a document ready, namely, the assessment by the
military agency will be ready in late summer and early fall.
Judging from the pace for the ordinary inter-agency reviewing
process, the Obama administration will not start the decision-making
process for the F-16 fight jets deal until sometime between
September to October at the earliest.
"By then it will be time for U.S. mid-term elections, and the US$5
billion worth of F-16 fighter jets, which will be able to protect
nearly 10,000 jobs year, could serve as a useful bargaining chip for
President Obama (just the same as the time when former President
George H.W. Bush sold F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.) Should
Washington agree to accept Taiwan's letter of intent [on the F-16
fighter jets deal] by the end of 2010, it will be nearly a year's
time, dating back from its notification to the Congress of the arms
sales to Taiwan in January, 2010, for U.S.-China relations to
gradually become less tense and clear. If Taiwan were thus able to
sign a contract [with the United States] by the end of 2011, the
mass-production of the F-16 fighter jets will be able to start
before the production line is closed for orders (supposedly in
2014). Such a development will benefit not only the United States
(in its employment, economy, and follow-on exports) but also Taiwan
(avoiding the soaring costs for re-opening the production line and
ensuring the quality of the subcontractors' supply of components).
"While the United States' relations toward Taiwan and China are
tipping in favor of Beijing, the [Taiwan] government must seriously
consider whether it should request that the United States return to
the previous model of reviewing its major arms sales [to Taiwan]
once every year. ... That way the island can use the mechanism to
push high-ranking U.S. officials to regularly participate in and
come to a decision on arms sales [to Taiwan]. ... Perhaps this
[suggestion] may serve as a new direction to be pondered by
[Taiwan's] newly-reshuffled National Security Council."
B) "Sino-U.S. Military Exchanges -- Fighting but not Splitting"
Journalist Qi Leyi wrote in an analysis in the KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 120,000] (2/26):
"... Beijing's constant [public comments] is intentionally a
political gesture [aimed at] preventing Washington from
miscalculation on the one hand, and on the other, to prevent U.S.
arms sales to Taiwan from being continuously upgraded and
strengthened. In such a chess game, the United States is testing
China's bottom line (on the contents of the arms sales), while China
is testing the United States' determination (to defend Taiwan).
Both sides know how to exercise restraint, because they are clearly
aware that struggles between big countries are unavoidable, but the
last thing they should do is fight and cut [ties with each other].
Once both sides put aside all considerations of face, it will be
extremely difficult to mend the ties. ...
"These essential differences [in political styles and cultural
values] make it destined that a breakthrough in the strategic mutual
trust between China and the United States will be difficult to
achieve in a short period of time. Deep in its heart, Washington
doubts that a dictatorship will use its vigorously developed
military power for peaceful means, and China also has doubts that a
Western power will tolerate the rise of a big Asian country. This
is not a military issue, but about the differences in strategic
cultures. Only when China and the United States genuinely
understand each other on the level of strategic culture can the two
possibly attain strategic mutual trust."