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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

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 004064

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: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

A) "Armitage's `Landmine' Remarks and U.S.-China-Taiwan
Relations"

The centrist, pro-status quo "China Times"
editorialized (12/23):

". However, even though [Deputy Secretary of State
Richard] Armitage's remarks seemed unfavorable to
Taiwan, the U.S. policy [toward Taiwan] remains
basically unchanged. In the meantime, we also noticed
that military, economic and trade cooperation between
the United States and Taiwan are enhancing; Washington
will assign a military officer to work at AIT; and many
people are suggesting that both countries sign a free
trade agreement.

"As a result, it is natural that Taiwan should not take
Armitage's remarks too lightly, but neither should it
be seized in fear all the time. As a superpower in the
world, the United States' cross-Strait policy is stable
and will not be changed all of a sudden.

"Given the prevailing neo-conservatism in the United
States, all Taiwan has to do is to strengthen
communication with the United States, constantly put
itself in Washington's shoes, and not take any
`unexpected' action or be a `landmine.' In that case,
chances will be slim for the United States to tilt
toward Beijing."

B) "It Is Difficult to Understand Why the Pan-Blue Camp
Is Making a Fuss about [Armitage's] `Landmine' Remarks
and thereby Belittling Taiwan"

The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" commented in an
editorial (12/23):

". But we must point out that the top priority for the
re-elected Bush administration's global strategic
layout is to build an anti-terrorism front. Washington
needs to seek Beijing's cooperation in its anti-
terrorism campaign especially when it wants to contain
the military expansion of North Korea. As a result, it
is a serious matter that deserves Taiwan's close
attention as to whether such a development will lead to
the United States making more concessions to China with
regard to the Taiwan issue.

".We believe that the DPP government should make the
best use of those relationships with our American
friends in the private sector, which were built when
former President Lee Teng-hui was in the office,
especially the relations with those retired U.S.
congressmen. We should act proactively to seek their
support and understanding for Taiwan. More
importantly, the Taiwan people should stand up and
speak out their voices. They should convey their
collective will to the U.S. society through a
comprehensive and in-depth publicity campaign. ."

C) "No More Messing Around with [Taiwan's] Foreign
Relations"

Journalist Lisa Hsu commented in the centrist, pro-
status quo "China Times" (12/23):

". Taiwan and the United States do enjoy similar
strategic alliance values, which will not be easily
affected by changes in their bilateral relations. But
Washington, until now, still believes that President
Chen has constantly abused the goodwill of the United
States just in order to gain his personal political
interests. The United States does not want to be
extorted by Taiwan without reason, and it is certainly
not a good thing for Taiwan either from the diplomatic
or national security perspectives. Taiwan is making
things difficult for its good friend, which without
doubt, is putting itself into a more dangerous
position. .

"Facing the increasingly severe and comprehensive
diplomatic attacks launched by Beijing, does Taiwan
have a great strategy plan to address the situation as
a whole and make as many friends as possible [in the
international community]? In the face of the fact that
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as its
overseas missions have gradually lost its combat
ability, our foreign policy makers should no longer
mess around with Taiwan's foreign relations. It is
time for them to ponder on the next step that they
should take when it comes to Taiwan's foreign relations
- a major defensive front for the island."
D) "Consider KMT's `China Complex'"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
said in an editorial (12/23):

"US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in
an interview on Tuesday that a declaration of war in
defense of Taiwan is a decision that can only be made
by Congress. All Armitage's remarks imply is that the
US is a country in which the rule of law is practiced -
really nothing new. His remark about Taiwan being a
landmine was more controversial. What he likely meant
is that the Taiwan issue is so thorny that it might
lead to friction between the US and China, and could
become explosive if not carefully handled. This is
hardly new either. If this is not what he meant,
hopefully he can clarify his meaning more fully to
prevent a misunderstanding.

"The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) immediate
reaction to Armitage's remarks was to speak for the US
by interpreting them as a warning that the US would be
unlikely to commit forces in the event of war. The
KMT's behavior is incomprehensible; on the one hand, it
says the US will not defend Taiwan, yet on the other,
it blocked the military procurement budget that Taiwan
needs to defend itself. Such behavior indicates the
KMT is deliberately retarding Taiwan' military
strength. .

"The worst-case scenario is that the KMT will succeed
in unilaterally disarming Taiwan, so that when the
massive Chinese military makes its move, the US will
face a dilemma as to how to respond militarily. If it
mobilizes its forces, the cost is likely to be high;
but if it doesn't, it will witness Taiwan being
swallowed up by a totalitarian beast. Is this what the
US really wants?

"If it isn't, then the US, in formulating its policy to
aid the defense of Taiwan, must also consider the KMT's
`China complex,' and avoid allowing it to be come a
weak link in the defense of the Taiwan Strait.

"It is encouraging that military officers will now be
posted at the American Institute in Taiwan, and that a
security mechanism for the Taiwan Strait has been
activated. The US Congress should also amend the
Taiwan Relations Act to make it more consistent with
the spirit and condition of the times, and block any
rash actions by China to annex Taiwan."

E) "U.S. Hesitates to Defend Taiwan"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" said in an editorial (12/23):

". Armitage's statement about Taiwan being a `land mine
in Washington's relations with mainland China' have
dealt a further blow to the attempt to the `green camp'
to pursue Taiwanese independence.

"The U.S., apparently displeased by Chen's independence
agenda, now considers his administration an obstacle to
building stability in the East Asia area. The U.S. may
become so impatient with Taiwan as to withhold
continued support, in which case the island's security
will be at risk - a possibility that radical
independence advocates have persistently chosen to
ignore so far.

"But chances are that the ruling DPP, which has Taiwan
independence enshrined in its party platform, will push
on with its provocative agenda. No wonder a lot of
observers now believe that war in the Taiwan Strait is
only a matter of time."

PAAL

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