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Cablegate: "China Times" Editorial On U.S.-Taiwan

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003904

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -
ROBERT PALLADINO
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO TW
SUBJECT: "CHINA TIMES" EDITORIAL ON U.S.-TAIWAN
RELATIONS


Summary: The Chinese-language "China Times" ran an
editorial Wednesday (12/08/04) discussing the
confidence crisis in interactions between Taiwan and
the United States following President Chen's recent
remarks on the timetable for Taiwan's new constitution
and the Taiwan government's plan to replace `China'
with `Taiwan' in the names of all its overseas
representative offices and state-owned enterprises.
Full text translation of the editorial follows.

"Confidence Crisis in Taiwan-U.S. Interactions"

The centrist, pro-status quo "China Times"
editorialized (12/8):

"For two consecutive Sundays during campaign rallies
for the legislative elections, President Chen Shui-bian
has been throwing out a timetable for [Taiwan's] new
constitution and the government's plan to replace
`China' with `Taiwan' in the names of all its overseas
representative offices and state-owned enterprises.
Immediately following Chen's remarks, the U.S. State
Department promptly gave its response during its
regular news briefing the next Monday (Washington
time). With regard to [Chen's plan] to hold `a
referendum on [Taiwan's] new constitution,' State
Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said the Monday
before the last that the United States takes President
Chen's Four No's pledge seriously and Chen has to offer
a clarification regarding whether his remarks have
violated his pledge. As for Chen's latest remarks on
Taiwan's name-change plan, State Department Deputy
Spokesman Adam Ereli responded last Monday, in a more
direct and impolite manner, [by saying] that regarding
the name change, `Our view is, frankly speaking, we do
not support it.'

"Within just one week, the State Department addressed
Chen's so-called campaign rhetoric by first asking him
to clarify [his remarks] and then by clearly indicating
that Washington does not support Taiwan's plan to
change names because it believes this will unilaterally
change the status quo of Taiwan. As far as we can
recall, the U.S. government has never made one response
after another in such a short period of time with
regard to the words and behaviors of an R.O.C.
president. Judging from the context of its responses,
Washington was already very impolite and had gone
beyond the [bounds of] international courtesy or
protocol by asking in public for Chen's clarification
the Monday before last. This week, Washington's clear
indication of its attitude of not supporting [Taiwan's
name change] was [a type of response] rarely ever seen
in the engagements of the international community.
[Washington's response last Monday] can be viewed as a
rough intervention with regard to Taiwan's domestic
affairs and a public insult for the Republic of China,
including President Chen himself.

"Why did the United States want to adopt such an
unusual measure? Why was it so strict with Taiwan?
These are topics that require serious attention and
reflection from the Taiwan people as well as President
Chen. The United States' response was actually
understandable if [we] analyze it under the large
framework of the international situation. To put it
simply, in the face of a China whose national strength
is on the rise, it is in the United States' strategic
interest to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan
Strait; but under circumstances where Beijing will not
renounce the use of force against Taiwan, Washington
naturally will have to do whatever it can to prevent
either side of the Taiwan Strait from altering the
status quo so that the [cross-Strait] situation will
not get out of hand and, as a result, drag the United
States into a war.

"It is exactly because of such a consideration of its
strategic interests [that] the United States not only
will do all it can to ensure that the status quo will
not be changed, but has also announced in public that
whether the status quo is changed will be defined by
the United States. The State Department's public
articulation yesterday clearly stating that it will not
support Taiwan's name change is, in fact, a result of
the United States' subjective definition [of what
constitutes a change in the status quo]. Washington
believes that not only Taiwan's plan to change the name
of its overseas representative offices, but also the
move to replace `China' with `Taiwan' in the names of
its state-owned enterprises, are attempts to change the
status quo.

"Even though the underlying reasons for Washington's
immediate responses to Chen's words and behaviors
which, according to the United States, might result in
a change in the status quo are the U.S. national
interests and the tacit agreement it reached with
Beijing after negotiations, it is still regrettable and
embarrassing for Taiwan to see such a strict response
from the United States. Former President Lee Teng-hui
got so angry that he even shot back with [the words:]
`the United States is not Taiwan's father.' While
feeling angry and embarrassed, what deserves our
consideration is that even if the United States wants
to respond, why can it not adopt a more indirect or
gentle way but had to do it in such a straightforward
manner and with total disregard for Taiwan's feelings?

"To find out the reason, we believe that the ultimate
source of Washington's tough and direct attitude is
that over the past few years, our leaders have more
than once exhausted the United States' confidence in
and goodwill toward Taiwan. Let's first put aside what
happened earlier when former President Lee paid a visit
to Cornell University and [spoke of] his `special state-
to-state relationship' doctrine that he had given no
warning about to Washington in advance. During the
four years of the Bush administration, Chen's doctrine
of `one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait' and
his insistence on holding a referendum by using
loopholes both triggered new tensions across the Taiwan
Strait and thus put the United States under heavy
pressure from Beijing. The remarks, behaviors, and
policies of [Taiwan's] former and incumbent leaders
have woven into a picture of which the surface is
Taiwan's consciousness of its sovereignty while
internally it is actually moving towards Taiwan
independence and building a new country. Such a
picture, as seen in the eyes of the United States, is
exactly an attempt to change the status quo. As a
result, even though the United States has reiterated
its basic stand that it does not support Taiwan
independence and is opposed to any attempt by either
side [of the Taiwan Strait] to change the status quo,
it obviously felt that it has not done enough. Finally
it has to use a preventive diplomatic approach to adopt
a more severe standard for judging if the status quo
has been changed. [What the United States] looks into
is not only whether the move has really changed the
status quo; instead, it will clearly and firmly stop
any attempt to change the status quo by either side
just to take precautions.

"After Chen announced a timetable for Taiwan's new
constitution, Washington asked publicly for Chen's
clarification. Chen's only argument was that the new
constitution might not possibly pass the threshold of
the Legislative Yuan. Washington said this week that
it does not support Taiwan's name changes, believing
that [the plan] is a move to change the status quo.
This time it was Taiwan's premier and the Presidential
Office that responded [to Washington], stressing that
the plan is merely meant to highlight Taiwan's entity
and it has nothing to do with changing the status quo.
We are not sure whether such an explanation will
satisfy the United States. But it is certain that the
United States' confidence in Taiwan is quickly eroding
and its goodwill is obviously gone. Now the United
States can only closely monitor the words and behaviors
of Taiwan's leaders as if it is guarding against a
thief; it has to make immediate and necessary responses
and has no time to judge whether its manner is rough
and strict or not.

"After we analyze the pattern of the latest interaction
between the United States and Taiwan, which, in a way,
demonstrates the difficult situation Taiwan is in, we
cannot help but ponder why the Taiwan-U.S. interaction
has changed this way. Who has caused it and who has
made it happen? Doesn't Taiwan have a better way of
expressing itself other than acting and pushing
recklessly? Can Chen take on all the consequences of
his pushing the envelope? Or will it be all the Taiwan
people who have to shoulder the consequences?"

PAAL

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