Cablegate: Taiwan Media Coverage of President Chen Shui-
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 003924
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO TW
SUBJECT: TAIWAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF PRESIDENT CHEN SHUI-
BIAN'S COMMENTS ON U.S. OPPOSITION TO TAIWAN'S NAME
Summary: State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli
said Monday (12/6/04) the United States does not
support Taiwan's plan to replace "China" with "Taiwan"
in the names of all its overseas representative offices
and state-owned enterprises because these name changes
would appear to unilaterally change Taiwan's status.
President Chen Shui-bian said Tuesday (12/7/04) during
a campaign rally in Tainan the reason why the United
States does not support Taiwan's name changes is
because of pressure coming from China. The United
States is simply conveying the attitude of China, Chen
said. Almost all the Taipei dailies Wednesday
(12/8/04) reported on their front pages the State
Department comment and Chen's reaction. Headlines and
major block quotes of the Chinese-language news reports
A) "Facing Heavy Pressure from the United States,
President Chen Shui-bian Calls for [the Taiwan] People
to Back Him"
(p.1, conservative/pro-unification United Daily News,
12/8/04; by Ling Pei-chun, Lee Tzu-tong, and Hsin Chi-
"After the United States explicitly expressed its
opposition to Taiwan's name change plan, President Chen
Shui-bian stressed Tuesday evening during a campaign
rally in Tainan that the United States is merely
expressing the opposition of China. Chen said he is
under great pressure, including that from the United
States. Chen also called on the local people to
support him so that `A-Bian can speak out louder and
"Following the State Department's open announcement of
its opposition to Taiwan's name changes Monday, both
the Presidential Office and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs clarified Tuesday that President Chen's plan to
`rectify [Taiwan's] name is not an attempt to change
the status quo unilaterally and does not violate his
`five No's' pledge.' President Chen, however, did not
modify his previous statement and emphasized again
Tuesday evening his determination to push for
[Taiwan's] name changes.
"Chen stressed that the coming legislative election is
not just about electing legislators; instead, it is
about national status and national identity, and
whether Taiwan will become a part of China. He will
fight China by passing over one threshold after another
and hopes that the Taiwan people would support him and
let him speak out loud to China, Chen said.
"According to Chen, the media reported that the United
States opposes Taiwan's plan to change names. When he
pushed for a peaceful referendum on March 20, the
United States also opposed it by saying that it was a
move by Taiwan to unilaterally change the status quo.
Many people were scared to death at that moment,
thinking that it would be `disastrous' [to go ahead]
without U.S. support for the referendum.
"Chen said the United States' announcement that it does
not support [Taiwan's] name purely reflects the
opposition of the Beijing authorities. It is China
that is placing pressure on the United States and
asking Washington to convey its opposition to Taiwan's
plan, just like what happened during the March 20
"Chen asked `Do we have to stop doing it just because
China opposes it?' China has never approved of any of
the moves done in the past concerning Taiwan's
democratic reforms, including the lifting of martial
law and the public vote to elect the president. China
has always threatened to wage war against Taiwan in all
the situations above. But Chen did not compromise nor
concede. `Everyone should make up his mind and have
confidence' [and] `a referendum is a universal value
and a basic human right that no country or government
can deprive or restrict people from having,' Chen said.
Although he is under heavy pressure, `including that
from the United States and from within the island,'
Chen said, he still insists on holding the referendum.
"According to Chen, to change the name of "ROC" is not
a simple matter. All that remains of the Republic of
China now is Taiwan, and `Taiwan is our name.' Chen
added that during his term of office, he will
`eradicate all KMT influence' to terminate the long
history of a government system in which the ruling
party equaled the nation. He will differentiate
between Taiwan and China so that the world will not
think Taiwan is a part of China, Chen said."
B) "Chen Passionately Talks Back to the United States;
The Presidential Office: [We] Will Mend the Rifts [with
Washington] after the Legislative Elections" (P.3,
centrist/pro-status quo China Times, 12/8/04; by Lin
Shu-ling, Tsai Hui-chen, Chen Chung-jung, Chen Yu-
hsien, Lisa Hsu, Yang Shu-fen, and Chen Chia-hung)
"Following the United States' strongly worded
statement, President Chen gave a passionate speech on
his name change policy during a campaign rally in
Tainan City Tuesday evening, which drew a lot of
attention. Sources said Chen's talk Tuesday evening
was all his own doing.
"A high-ranking official of the Presidential Office
said later Tuesday evening that the logic of
campaigning is different from that of other issues. If
[Chen's remarks] did harm Taipei-Washington relations,
Taiwan will try to mend them after the election results
"Sources said when the [Taiwan] authorities learned
about the State Department's public opposition to
Taiwan's plan to replace `China' with `Taiwan' in the
names of all its overseas representative offices and
state-owned enterprises, they started to clarify the
issue for the local public through the Presidential
Office, the Executive Yuan and DPP headquarters. They
did not intend to heat up the issue or challenge the
U.S. response. Thus, Chen's passionate talk in Tainan
City Tuesday evening astonished some senior officials.
"A high-ranking official believes that rifts between
Taiwan and the United States are inevitable during the
campaigning process. [Chen's] administration has done
its best to try to minimize these rifts. Taiwan will
seek to mend the rifts after the election results come
out if the rifts have done any damage to Taipei-
Washington ties. Taiwan and the United States will
have an open and honest dialogue in the wake of the
legislative elections, the official added.
"In fact, the authorities held an emergency meeting
early Tuesday morning to discuss how government
agencies will give the same story in response [to the
State Department's comment]. They decided to emphasize
that the name change plan is [meant] to highlight
Taiwan's sense of entity and has nothing to do with
changing the nation's title. Seeking to change the
names of the government's overseas representative
offices and changing the status quo are two separate
issues, and the Taiwan government will act in
accordance with its national interests, continuing
negotiations with its allies to win their understanding
and support, and to prevent other people from
mistakenly assuming that Taiwan wants to alter the
status quo, the official added. .
"Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai admitted that President
Chen did not inform Washington in advance before he
announced the plan to rectify the names of Taiwan's
state-owned enterprises and overseas representative
offices. But Chen emphasized that relevant actions to
rectify Taiwan's name were started while the KMT was
the ruling party, and the plan to change the names of
Taiwan's overseas representative offices was not
initiated by the DPP government, either. "Since the
United States has the `Taiwan Relations Act,' what will
it call us if it does not want to address us as
`Taiwan?' Chen asked."
C) "When the Election Goes Wild, There is No End to the
Pain to U.S.-Taiwan Relations"
(P.3, centrist/pro-status quo China Times, 12/8/04; by
"Whenever there is an election, there will be pain to
U.S.-Taiwan relations. Last winter it was because of
the referendum, and this year it is about [Taiwan's]
declaration that it will change the names of its
overseas missions and state-owned enterprises. What is
different is that the United States has reacted faster
and faster. Whenever President Chen Shui-bian makes a
move, the United States draws a red line accordingly.
Moreover, the level of the U.S. official that makes
responses is merely that of the spokesman or the deputy
spokesman of the State Department, but the level of
Taiwan official that responds covers all levels. When
the United States puts the squeeze on Taiwan, it surely
bullies Taiwan a lot.
"The names and forms of Taiwan's overseas missions vary
a lot. In the past, Taiwan has discussed with the
United States changes to the names of Taiwan's
representative offices in the United States. However,
the United States believes that there is no hurry to do
this and they will start with whatever they are able to
do first. For example, the United States has
`rectified' the name of the General Affairs Section to
Political Section within AIT. .
"The tempo of Taiwan elections is very quick. This is
quite different from the logic of diplomatic affairs
that [holds that] deep water runs slowly. However,
when it comes to elections, diplomacy will have to be
second in priority. When there is no sufficient prior
communication concerning major foreign policies, they
often end up in a messy situation.. Now it's election
season again. Judged from the reaction of the United
States, [it is evident that] Washington is still
nervous about Taiwan's campaign rhetoric. Top-level
officials in the Taiwan government always think they
can clear things up after the elections. However, in
reality, one will find that the U.S. strategy to
respond quickly reflects its serious doubts about
whether Taiwan can stick to its pledges or whether
President Chen can remain consistent [with his policy].
"Judging from another perspective, during the process
of rebuilding mutual trust between the United States
and Taiwan, there is no rush to push the United States
to reveal its stand. The more one pushes the other to
show its hand, the card that is shown will not be a
good one, especially under the situation where the
United States and other countries actually do not feel
like being forced to do so and when there is not enough
mutual trust between the two sides.
"The United States expressed its opposition to any
unilateral change by either side of the Taiwan Strait
and draws lines regarding the `status quo. But on the
other hand, it is also encouraging both sides of the
Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue and begin talks.
Judging from this point of view, although the United
States pays attention to every move Taiwan makes during
the elections, whether both sides of the Strait can
develop a different political climate based on their
goodwill in the wake of the legislative elections is
the issue of major concern for the United States."
D) "Regarding the United States' Opposition to Taiwan's
Name Changes, President Chen: Not Negotiable" (P.2,
mass circulation Apple Daily, 12/8/04)
"President Chen Shui-bian Tuesday night said in his
hometown Tainan with regard to the reaction from the
United States, `in the past when we fought for
democratic reform, such as to lift martial law, the ban
on political parties and newspapers, and direct
election of the president by the people, China said all
of them were Taiwan independence moves. China, thus,
threatened war. We have, however, accomplished all of
them, including the peace referendum, without a war
initiated by China. The name change thing is the same,
no one should be afraid.' 'It is impossible that we
don't do anything that China opposes. We should never
compromise when we face oppression from China.'
"President Chen pointed out that the news coverage of
the United States not supporting Taiwan's plan for name
changes is the same as with the referendum last year.
The United States is expressing China's opinion.
President Chen emphasized that we want to make known
Taiwan's subjectivity, so we should use the name
`Taiwan' while participating in international society."
E) "Bian: Name Change, No compromise and No Concession"
(P.1, pro-independence Taiwan Daily, 12/8/04; by Lin
"Regarding the United States decision not to support
Taiwan regarding name changes, President Chen Tuesday
said in Tainan the United States is expressing the
attitude of China. Chen cited the lift of the ban on
political parties and newspapers, the direct election
of the president, and the March 20 referendum as
evidence that `every issue is opposed by China.'
However, `Do we give in?' Chen said Taiwan will not
compromise or concede on its plan to change names. Chen
wants everyone to back him, "speak out loud to China,"
and give him a stable majority in congress. .
"President Chen Tuesday night came to Tainan to support
four Pan-Green candidates. Chen offered the March 20
referendum as an example and said at that time everyone
had the chance to participate in the peace referendum.
Chen hoped that everyone will have the chance to
participate in a referendum on the constitution. Last
year, however, when Chen pushed for the peace
referendum, the United States also said it did not
support [the referendum] and said it was a unilateral
change of the status quo. Several people were `scared
to death' and said `Chen is damned. How can the peace
referendum proceed without the support from the United
States?' As to the United States' opposition to name
changes, Chen considered it to reflect a request from
the Beijing administration to the United States, and
that the United States is expressing China's
opposition. The situation is just like the United
States' attitude before the peace referendum. `It is
impossible that we don't dare to do things just because
China opposes it or does not support it.' Chen said
`The Far East Trade Center' in Australia, `The Sun Yat-
sen Center' in Singapore, `The East Asia Relations
Association' in Japan, and `The Coordination Council
for North American Affairs' in the United States have
all been changed to `The Taipei Economic and Cultural
Representative Office'. Isn't the name change of the
above agencies examples of what we fought for? If we
could fight for the Taipei Representative Office
before, why can't we fight for the name to be changed
to The Taiwan Representative Office?"