Cablegate: Media Reaction: Secretary Powell's Beijing
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 TAIPEI 003367
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: SECRETARY POWELL'S BEIJING
TRIP AND U.S. POLICY
A) "[Taiwan Must] Calmly Face the Reality Before It
Hits the Road Again"
The centrist, pro-status quo "China Times"
". For Washington, it is in the overall interests of
the United States to keep Taiwan in a position that can
restrain China, create bargaining chips for U.S.-China
negotiations and at the same time not really trigger a
war in the Taiwan Strait. Washington does not want
Taiwan to stand in its way in areas where it wants to
develop relations with China - such as trade markets.
But it needs Taiwan to block Beijing when it comes to
areas where it wants to overpower China - such as
[China's] military hegemonic power. Taiwan's position
or value lies in playing the part of accommodating
[party in] the United States' great strategy toward
China. Whenever there is a major conflict between the
United States and China, the unprotected Taiwan can get
support from the United States, but the room for Taiwan
will be squeezed when conflicts between the United
States and China are reduced or when they share the
same interests. Thus, chances are higher that
[Secretary of State Colin] misspoke regarding `peaceful
unification' because Washington has no need to reduce
the room in which it moves around in with its policy
and `peaceful resolution' would provide more bargaining
chips for the United States.
"Even so, Powell still did deal a heavy blow [to
Taiwan]. Recently, Washington has repeatedly warned
and stated that it does not support Taiwan
independence. Powell's remarks months ago which said
that a resolution to the issue must be accepted by both
sides of the Taiwan Strait was a new approach to
further illustrate that [the United States] does not
support Taiwan independence, which has also become one
of the keynotes of U.S. policy. .
". After the DPP came into power, it strived to rebuild
foreign and cross-Strait policies that are politically
correct and closely related to Taiwan's national
identity. . Also, some high-ranking Taiwan officials
have tried to use the island's foreign relations as a
campaign tool and turned the United States' goodwill
and support into their personal campaign resources. A
series of rash behavior, remarks and provocative acts
by Taipei, including the referendum, have not only
undermined the long-standing trust between Taiwan and
the United States but have also turned Taiwan into a
variable that threatens U.S. interests.
"The United States will not be afraid to take
`preventive' action in the face of any threat that
could endanger its national interests. The support
that Washington gives Taipei is not so great as to the
extent that it would sacrifice its soldiers for Taiwan.
If Taiwan works and waits patiently, maybe it could
create a new status for itself in the international
community. But Taiwan made an early move to challenge
the United States' one-China policy before the
international climate matures, so it got slapped in the
face by the United States. .
"The United States has repeatedly urged both sides of
the Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue. It would be more
appropriate to say that Washington's purpose is to
reduce cross-Strait tension rather than just push for
talks across the Taiwan Strait. The mistrust of the
United States, the saber rattling of China and the
indifference of the international community are the
reality that Taiwan must face calmly and bravely. ."
B) "The Real Connotation of Washington's One China
Shao Chung-hai, a professor at National Chengchi
University's Sun Yat-sen Institute, said in an op-ed
piece in the centrist, pro-status quo "China Times"
"If this [i.e. what Secretary Powell said and what
State Department Spokesman Ereli later clarified] is
the U.S. government's long-standing policy toward
Taiwan's status, Powell's remarks have clearly
indicated the real connotation of Washington's one-
China policy - namely, the meaning of `one China'
remains ambiguous, but [Washington's position] toward
Taiwan's status is moving toward clarity. .
"Taipei was shocked [by Powell's remarks] partly
because Washington did not mention in its earlier
briefing to Taipei that Powell would speak in such a
direct and candid manner. It is also because Taipei
had overlooked Powell's trip, thinking that he would
soon leave his current position and he would not talk
about any substantive issues when he visited Beijing.
But what is more important is that Taipei, for a long
time, has been trying to interpret the direction of
Washington's Taiwan policy from its own position,
arbitrarily judging that Washington's attempt to create
ambiguity for its cross-Strait policy in the past was
[meant] to create a background for Taiwan to split from
mainland China. The DPP government . especially
misinterpreted the United States' position that neither
side of the Taiwan Strait should unilaterally change
the status quo as silent recognition the `fact' of an
independent Taiwan. ."
C) "Taiwan Independence Is a Mere Illusion"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" said in an editorial (10/28):
". Powell's comment departed from the usual U.S.
practice of calling on both sides to settle their
differences peacefully via dialogue and of avoiding
taking any stance on what the resolution should be. .
"Two factors contributed to the apparent shift in U.S.
policy. For one thing, the U.S. needs the help of
Beijing in implementing its anti-terrorist mission,
especially in dealing with North Korea, which President
George W. Bush once described as the `Axis of Evil'
along with Iran and Iraq.
"Another factor is the DPP government and its allies'
aggressive push for independence. Apparently, the U.S.
government believes Taiwan's movement toward statehood
has made the Taiwan Strait more treacherous than ever
"The independence activists' attempt to separate Taiwan
from the mainland permanently has produced just the
opposite effect. Their pursuit, ironically, is making
the outlook for Chinese reunification brighter."
D) "Powell Should Not Withhold Reorganization of the
Fact that `Taiwan Is an Independent Sovereign State'"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" commented in an
". When we looked back at the contents of the United
States' cross-Strait policy, they all focused on
`peaceful dialogue,' `respect for the will of the
Taiwan people,' and `maintaining the status quo.'
Judged from these contents, [we know that] even Powell
misspoke, the focus of his meeting with the Chinese
leaders still centered on `urging both sides to resume
dialogue' `opposition to any unilateral attempt the
change the status quo,' and `firm commitment to arms
sales to Taiwan.' Just as noted in the clarifications
by the State Department and AIT, the United States'
Taiwan policy remains unchanged. However, even though
Powell's inappropriate remarks were a slip of the
tongue, which were later clarified by U.S. officials,
Powell's remarks have undeniably deviated from the
historical reality and seriously harmed Taiwan's
interests as well as the feelings of the 23 million
Taiwan people. As a result, Taiwan people must ask the
United States to make a powerful clarification and
commitment, and Powell must also apologize to the
Taiwan people in public. ."
E) "Powell's Misspeaking Alerts Taiwan People to
Quickly Become a `Normal Country' through the Process
of Instituting a New Constitution"
The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" said in an
". But in our eyes, Powell's statements that `Taiwan is
not independent" and `does not enjoy sovereignty as a
nation' have actually underscored the necessity and
urgency for Taiwan to become a `normal country' through
the process of public self-determination to rectify
Taiwan's name and institute a new constitution. ."
F) "K.M. Koo: I Do Not Believe That `Peaceful
Unification' Is the U.S. Policy'
Senior Presidential Advisor K.M. Koo said in an
exclusive interview with the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" presented as a commentary (10/28):
"Senior Presidential Advisor K.M. Koo said in an
exclusive interview with this newspaper that the reason
why both sides of the Taiwan Strait have failed to
resume a dialogue is because China has done a good job
in pressuring Taiwan through the United States. China
will not sit down to talk with Taiwan as long as the
United States continues implementing its one-China
policy. China's turning down [the offers] as proposed
by both President Chen and Secretary Powell are the
best examples. Unless the United States gives up the
role to speak for China, chances will be slim for both
sides of the Taiwan Strait to resume talks. .
". Koo said Powell did seem `very calm and composed'
when he talked about `peaceful unification.' But
Taiwan's strategic importance in Asia will not be
affected by the remarks of a government, a certain
political party, or a secretary of state. It will be a
very dangerous idea if `unification' is what Powell has
"According to Koo, `unification' would mean giving up
on Taiwan, an idea which is by no means in the United
States' interests. Also, if Taiwan becomes part of
China, it will have a great impact on the peace in
Asia, which was established in the wake of the Second
World War. China's basic idea is to drive the U.S.
influence out of Asia and establish its leading role in
the region. But this will certainly trigger resistance
from both Japan and Korea. As a result, Koo said he
will never believe that `peaceful unification' will
become the U.S. policy. ."
G) "The Wake-up Call in Powell's Words"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
". Naturally, the most likely possibility is precisely
that Powell, who is evidently not very familiar with
the intricacies of Taiwan's `China problem' or China's
`Taiwan problem,' did indeed make verbal errors without
prior malice or forethought. .
"While we can welcome the clarifications, we should not
neglect preparations for alternatives.
"For example, there remains a possibility that Powell
and the U.S. State Department or even President George
W. Bush are playing a 'bad cop, good cop' routine with
both Taipei and Beijing.
"While the goal of the U.S. secretary of state may be
to maintain stability, his initiative may bred even
"Indeed, Powell's strident defense of `our one-China
policy,' a posture which is quite distinct from
Beijing's `one-China principle,' cannot hide the fact
that its foundations have been gravely eroded by
Taiwan's democratization and emergence as a 'subject'
in the triangular relationship and by the PRC's own
economic and military rise.
"Unfortunately, instead of compelling Beijing to accept
the fact of Taiwan's actual-existing sovereignty, the
U.S. secretary of state's clumsy intervention has set
back progress by fostering both anger in Taiwan and
unrealistic expectations in Beijing that any government
in Washington may be able to make the problem of facing
up to the reality of Taiwan's `people-based
sovereignty' wither away. .
"In a sense, Powell may have done Taiwan a backhanded
favor by reminding us of the need to cultivate a far
broader base of support in global public support to
buttress the genuine `enjoyment' of sovereignty by
Taiwan's people and thus ease our security dependence
on the United States. .
"Truly, the best way to help ourselves is to help
others help themselves. In order to lay the
foundations for its own sustainability and lasting
autonomy, a democratic Taiwan should boldly take up the
unaccustomed role of acting as an agenda-setter instead
of passive follower in the global arena in party by
laying the foundations for our own sustainability as
President Chen hinted in his May 20 inaugural speech."