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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Legislative Election

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 003959

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: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: TAIWAN'S LEGISLATIVE ELECTION


A) "Politics [Should] Return to Basics"

Professor Chu Yun-han of National Taiwan University's
Department of Political Science said in the centrist,
pro-status quo "China Times" (12/13);

"The spokesperson of the U.S. State Department said
`the United States salutes the people of Taiwan'
immediately after the outcome of [Saturday's]
legislative elections was revealed, and one can easily
see [Washington's] excitement behind that statement.
The outcome of the elections, to a certain extent, has
excluded the possibility of `overall rule' by the DPP
government headed by President Chen Shui-bian for the
next three years. It has also significantly cut back
on the room the Pan-Green alliance has for political
operations intended to promote `a referendum on the new
constitution' and `the name changes [plan] for Taiwan.'
As far as Washington is concerned, the outcome of the
elections is equivalent to the de-fusing of a bomb by
the majority of Taiwan voters -- [a bomb] which might
finally have triggered a military showdown between the
two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Also, for the time
being, it has saved the United States from having to
take the trouble to impose serious measures that might
jeopardize Taiwan in order to de-fuse the bomb by
itself. Moreover, the outcome of the elections has
offered the United States a special warrant based on
`respect for the majority opinion in Taiwan' to monitor
Chen's [words and behaviors] in the future. .

"Compared with the March presidential election, nearly
3.5 million voters [chose to be] absent from Saturday's
legislative elections because they are disinclined to
[get involved in] politics and they are disappointed
with Taiwan's future political direction. . The
majority of voters chose to let the Pan-Blue alliance
retain the majority of [seats in] the Legislative Yuan
[as a way] of buying themselves a package of
comprehensive insurance. They hoped to rule out the
risk of intensified conflict across the Taiwan Strait
that might be caused by the DPP [controlling both the
Presidential Office and Legislative Yuan]. They also
wanted to rule out the risk of accelerating corruption,
abuses of power, and violation of laws - a natural
consequence resulting from the defeat of the Pan-Blue
alliance as the DPP would become dominant as the ruling
party. They hoped to keep the development of Taiwan's
future political situation open so that the legislative
elections in 2007 and the presidential election in 2008
will remain an undetermined chess game for both the Pan-
Blue and Pan-Green alliances.

"Those roughly 2.2 million voters who supported
President Chen with regard to his re-election half a
year ago did not come out to vote or even chose to vote
for Pan-Blue alliance candidates or independent
candidates this time. This means that the issues that
Chen focused on during the [presidential election]
campaign failed to meet their expectations as priority
policies that Chen should deal with in his second term
of office. . But Chen's administration still tried to
use the illusionary `national identity' issue . .
[This strategy] simply failed to work this time.

"Public opinion revealed by the outcome of Saturday's
legislative elections contains significant revelations
for future leaders of both the Pan-Blue and Pan-Green
alliances. For the future leaders of the Pan-Green
camp, Saturday's election results have proved that the
political power of the Pan-Green camp has not grown as
fast as expected. . Whether the DPP should choose the
middle-of-the road approach again will definitely
become the focus of arguments within the party. The
most important revelation of Saturday's elections is
that ... it takes real political achievements to expand
the political power [of a political party] and [a
political party] cannot rely on political schemes and
flair. ."

B) "Make a Choice between the Pan-Blue Alliance's
Completing Legislation for a Referendum on Taiwan
Independence and the DPP's Abolishing Its Party
Platform on Taiwan Independence"

The conservative, pro-unification "United Daily News"
editorialized (12/13):

"The Pan-Blue alliance has secured a majority of seats
in the Legislative Yuan [following Saturday's
legislative election]. The first task that the new
legislature, which will start operating next spring,
should do is to pass legislation and make `the
referendum on Taiwan independence' a legal mechanism. .

"Objectively speaking, the Pan-Blue alliance's reserved
attitude toward the referendum on Taiwan independence
and the United States' attempts to restrain such a
referendum are both a result of their good intentions,
hoping that the DPP will not put itself in an
unfavorable position. President Chen, however,
distorted and took advantage of these good intentions,
which in the end have become an amulet for Chen to
manipulate the Taiwan independence issue
unscrupulously. .

". In other words, both the United States and the Pan-
Blue alliance hope to hold back the holding of a
referendum on Taiwan independence, but instead, they
have been held hostages by the Taiwan independence
issue. .

"To change this situation, the first thing [the new
legislature] should do is to complete legislation for
holding a referendum on Taiwan independence. The only
resolution [to such a dispute] is to return the right
to decide whether Taiwan should declare independence
back to the Taiwan people. If the majority of Taiwan
people decide that Taiwan should declare independence,
then we should move ahead [toward such a goal] in full
gear; if not, then the President should no longer
trample upon the constitutional rule. .

C) "Taipei-Washington Ties in the Aftermath of the
Legislative Election: the United States [Had Better]
Talk Less"

Lin Cheng-yi, Research Fellow at the Institute of
International Relations, National Chengchi University,
said in an op-ed piece in the conservative, pro-
unification "United Daily News" (12/12):

". Perhaps the Bush administration may think that since
the Pan-Blue alliance won the majority of seats in the
Legislative Yuan, the movements to push for Taiwan's
constitutional reform and name changes will face more
obstacles, thus reducing the opportunities for the Chen
Shui-bian administration to provoke Beijing. But
Washington should also review its inconsistent position
toward Taiwan's democratic development.

"[The United States] used to use its arms sales to
Taiwan as a means to pressure the KMT to lift martial
law, and now it is citing security as a reason to
pressure the DPP to restrain its political reforms.
Washington's way of handling the Taiwan referendum
issue seems to fall into a predicament along the lines
of `[We] don't like it but [we] cannot stop it.' . The
Bush administration now tends to make a more public and
more immediate response when reacting to unfavorable
behavior from Taipei, leaving the latter no room for
imagination. Given the [fact that the] Pan-Blue
alliance won the majority in the Legislative Yuan, the
United States may have less chance to make such
hegemonic responses."

D) "More Work Needs to Be Done"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
noted in an editorial (12/13):

. "The election is being interpreted everywhere as a
rejection of Taiwan separatism. Certainly there was a
sense that themes from Chen's campaigning would, if
realized, raise tensions with China. But there was
also a wide realization that many of these would be
impossible to attain, given that the pan-greens would
never win the super-majority needed to make
constitutional changes on their own. So there was a
strange hollowness about the DPP's Chen-centered
campaign, an emptiness that resulted in some 2.25
million who voted green in March - a third of the total
votes for Chen - not showing up at the polls Saturday.

"But while voters might have balked at the risky road
the DPP seemed to be taking, Taiwan consciousness is
not going to go away. Remember it was the strongly pro-
reunification People First Party that was the big loser
in the election, seeing a quarter of its seats go to
the more moderate Chinese Nationalist Party. ."

PAAL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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