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Cablegate: Media Reaction: China's "Anti-Secession Law"

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: News about China's anti-secession law, whose
terms was unveiled Tuesday (3/8) when the bill was presented
to the National People's Congress, was prominent on the
front pages of all major dailies in Taiwan. While all the
newspapers cited Taiwan officials criticizing the law as a
step backward for cross-Strait relations, individual
newspapers took different approaches in dealing with the
controversial law. The centrist "China Times" reported that
President Chen Shui-bian had hoped that China would bend to
international pressure and put the law on hold by sending
local scholars for cross-Strait negotiations, and its
editorial urged Taiwan authorities to think of
countermeasures for the law. The pro-independence "Liberty
Times" printed a banner headline that said "Non-peaceful
Means Are More Severe Than the Use of Force," and in its
editorial urged opposition leaders to see clearly how China
threatens Taiwan. In addition, the editorial noted that the
law might benefit Taiwan by helping the world realize the
threat posed by China to global peace. These sentiments were
echoed on the editorial page of the English-language "Taipei
Times," which called for stronger global reactions to
China's move. A commentary from "Central Daily News" urged
for more proactive responses to the law and the recent U.S.-
Japan security statement. The editorial in the pro-
unification "United Daily News," however, said China had
softened its tone by using the words "non-peaceful means,"
and that the three terms for the "non-peaceful means" had
gray areas that offered ample room for interpretation.

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A) "The Strategic Thinking Taiwan Needs Facing `Non-peaceful

The centrist/pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation:
600,000] said in its editorial (3/9):

". As the object of this legislation, Taiwan certainly
cannot accept that its future and destiny be constrained by
the more than 1000 words of a so-called offshore law. Five
hundred thousand Hong Kong residents protested in the
streets after Provision 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law was
made public. They were protesting not only the provision
but also the legislative process, which did not pay any
respect to their opinion. In a democratic society, the
process is often more important than the result. [If] Hong
Kong, which already returned to Chinese rule, could [make
such protests], it would be apathetic for Taiwan not to
react to the anti-secession law. After all, we have not
seen any Taiwan public opinion [reflected in the law]. No
representative Taiwan figures participated [in the
legislative process].

"The `non-peaceful means' that China may use on Taiwan may
have two effects. One is that the possibility of resorting
to violent measures might be lower since non-violent
measures may be more effective and intimidating. The other
is that the intimidation we will be facing is likely to be
more diversified. . In the future, Taiwan cannot come up to
the `non-peaceful means' challenges only from the military
perspective. In other words, the authorities need wiser
strategic thinking other than extending protests."

B) "China's Making of `Anti-secession Law' Awakens Muddled
Ruling and Opposition Figures"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 800,000]
editorialized (3/9):

". Therefore, although the detailed contents of the anti-
secession law has not been completely published, Wang
Zhaoguo's statement has confirmed . that the anti-secession
law is a `blank check' written to the military by the
Chinese regime, and that it is a war-authorization law,
which openly resorts to armed forces.

". It is unwise for China to have activated the legislation
of the anti-secession law. However, it may be a turn for
the better, a turn from danger into safety, for Taiwan.
First, the law attempts to break the cross-Strait status quo
and will certainly affect regional stability. It has
already made the international community face up to the
threat of China's rise to world peace and order. Cross-
Strait security has become an unavoidable issue for the
international community. Second, there are indeed a few
people in Taiwan who hold illusions about China. China's
progressive threat toward Taiwan has deprived Taiwan of any
survival space. Such a development will awaken these
people, promote Taiwan's internal unity, and strengthen a
sense of common destiny ."

C) "Promoting Unification, Anti-independence, Maintaining
the Status Quo: Three Stages of China's Taiwan Policy As
Seen in `Anti-secession Law'"

The editorial of conservative/pro-unification "United Daily
News" [circulation: 600,000] commented (3/9):

"China's National People's Congress (NPC) started to review
the `anti-secession law.' From the statement made yesterday
by its Vice Chairman Wang Zhaoguo, the most significant
should be that the law has implicitly recognized `the status
quo is not Taiwan independence.'

Interpreting the law from this perspective, we probably can
see the three stages of evolution for China's Taiwan policy
over the past few years: from promoting unification to being
anti-independence to maintaining the status quo.

"We believe, rather than emphasizing `anti-independence,'
the `anti-secession law' is, in fact, moving to the
`maintaining status quo' step. Once on this step, the
prospect of cross-Strait relations should be wider and more

D) "Interpreting the New U.S.-Japan Security Alliance and
Responding to Anti-secession Law"

Section Chief Liu Teh-chuan of the Ministry of National
Defense Spokesperson's Office wrote in the KMT mouthpiece
"Central Daily News" [circulation: 80,000] (3/9):

". [Regarding] how to correctly interpret the implications
of the `U.S.-Japanese Statement', respond to the follow-up
effects of the `anti-secession law,' play the crucial
strategic role as the center of an island chain, and prevent
any change of the status quo or becoming a victim of power
struggles among powerful nations, I personally would like to
suggest the following strategic thinking for Taiwan's
decision-making agencies:

"1. The enhancement of the U.S.-Japan alliance can become a
`window of opportunity' for Taiwan. In the short term, we
should target promoting policies favorable to Taiwan through
many channels. For the long term, we should think of ways
to integrate Taiwan's diplomatic, military and economic
resources with U.S. and Japanese relations in order to play
an active role as a strategic partner of the U.S.-Japan
alliance .

"2. .Taiwan needs to show its determination [regarding] self-
defense to the world through `reasonable' and `pragmatic'
arms purchases. Before China renounces any military
invasion against Taiwan and the two sides of the Strait sign
any peace agreement, building dependable self-defensive
capabilities should be a top priority for Taiwan.

"3. On the mechanism for military exchanges, Taiwan should
actively train diplomats well versed in U.S. and Japanese
affairs so that they can build close contacts with the
Pentagon and the Japan Defense Agency. Taiwan should
evaluate the roles it can play and priorities for
cooperation. It can try to build a preliminary military
exchange mechanism with Japan through the United States and
promote having Japanese military officials be stationed in
Taiwan, following the American Institute in Taiwan model.
Channels for regular dialogues should be established. And
triangular military simulation drills should be promoted
through civilian think tanks."

E) "The World That Can Say `No'"

An editorial of the English language pro-independence
"Taipei Times" [30,000] commented (3/9):

"Infamous for its impotence and self-importance, China's
National People's Congress (NPC) seems to exist in an
imperial haze. Ignoring protests from the rest of the world,
it will do as it is told and pass the `anti-secession' law
treating Taiwan as part of China's territory and the
Taiwanese people as a mob to be intimidated or killed if
need be. But Beijing has yet to learn the lesson from the
failure of verbal attacks and military threats in the past.

"The reasoning behind the bill mentions `non-peaceful' means
to resolve the Taiwan question -- a frightening phrase that
points to an intensifying threat to invade as well as the
use of any number of other obnoxious strategies.

"But the most unacceptable part of the proposed law is this:
The right of interpretation rests solely with the Chinese
government. This means that Chinese officials are both the
players and the referee in this ugly political game,
increasing insecurity both in military terms and in terms
more relevant to Taiwanese businesspeople in China.

". The `anti-secession' law is to a large extent modeled on
the US Taiwan Relations Act. One of the goals is to rely on
unilateral legislation and domestic laws to define the
relationship between China and Taiwan in order to intimidate
the Taiwanese public, so that they will ape their more
compliant `compatriots' in Hong Kong and Macau. At the same
time, Beijing is trying to challenge Washington and test its

"If Washington does nothing and other countries refrain from
strong reaction to Chinese aggression, then China may
escalate its threats of military action to frighten Taiwan
away from adopting any domestic reforms and create the
impression that Taiwan is already in the bag.

"A recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal pointed out
that China's rhetoric is similar to North Korea's. North
Korean provocations against Asian neighbors have caused no
end of problems for the US and Japan.

"Unless the world wants a smarter and more self-righteous
version of North Korea creating havoc in the region, the
international community needs to start saying "no" to

F) "Examine Beijing's law!"

The conservative/pro-unification English language "China
Post" [20,000] noted in an editorial (3/9):

"Today, for the first time the contents of Beijing's draft
Anti-Secession Law will be revealed when it is presented to
National People's Congress for a final review before
adoption by the end of the week.

"No matter how mild its wording, it hurts the feelings of
Taiwan's majority people. This law is unnecessary because
most of the island's residents favor status quo and reject
separation with the mainland. It is also dangerous because
it could provide an excuse for ultra-nationalists on the
mainland to pursue military ventures against Taiwan.

". President Chen Shui-bian stayed away from the protests,
in an apparent bid not to fan tensions with China. Also
absent were leaders from the major opposition parties, the
Kuomintang and the People First Party, which oppose Taiwan
independence. At this stage, there simply is no way to talk
Beijing out of it or even revise it.

"The only thing to do is to carefully examine the contents
and ponder how to turn it into Taipei's geopolitical
advantage, rather than to merely exploit it for domestic
political purposes."

G) "Peace Offensive Is Best Defense"

An editorial of the English-language pro-independence
"Taiwan News" [15,000] opined (3/9)

". The `Explanations of the Draft Anti-Secession Law'
presented by NPC Vice Chairman Wang Zhaoguo yesterday stands
as confirmation that Beijing has made a strategic error in
trying to deal with such a complicated issue as the
situation in the Taiwan Strait with a rigid law. .

"The most dangerous revelation was Wang's statement that the
law would authorize the PRC State Council and Central
Military Commission to `decide on and execute non-peaceful
means and other necessary measures' to strike at `Taiwan
independence forces' and only after launching such an
assault `promptly report to the NPC Standing Committee.'
Beijing's decision to manifest such aggressive intentions
was clumsy as it takes place just as the U.S. government
under Bush has shifted its grand strategy after encountering
difficulties in its crusade against global terrorism. .

"The progress toward a greater consensus between the U.S.
and the EU on issues concerning efforts to deal with
terrorism, many pundits believe international politics has
entered a post-anti-terrorist era characterized by consensus
on the basic principles and methods for dealing with the
problem of global terrorism and a revival of the importance
of global cooperation and conventional securities issues.

"In this framework, the PRC will again be seen by the U.S.
as a strategic competitor and even threat, especially in the
Asia-Pacific region.

"Moreover, the prospects for better U.S.-EU cooperation and
the decline of Beijing's importance as a `partner' in the
anti-terrorist crusade will provide Washington with more
space and energy to deal with the issue of a rapidly rising
China, especially in strategic and security terms.

". Despite the PRC's intent to proceed with enacting this
unwise law, the [Taiwan] government can still use the
approach of constructive interaction that continues to
affirm its sincerity in promoting a peace and development
framework for cross-strait relations.

"At the same time, political parties, including the
Democratic Progressive Party, are free to sponsor
demonstrations or other movements, including to promote
amendments to our own Constitution or legal framework.
The government should retain, for use when absolutely
necessary, the president's power under the Referendum Law to
call a national security or so-called `defensive'

"Given the needs to be both constructive and defend our
sovereignty, Taiwan should not only protest and counteract
this law, but directly and openly challenge the PRC's
credibility on the fronts of democracy, human rights, peace
and even economic freedom.

"To counteract the Beijing's transparent intention to
manipulate `great Chinese nationalism,' as shown by PRC
State Chairman Hu Jintao's call to the `1.3 billion Chinese
people' to resolve the Taiwan Strait problem, Taiwan needs
to actively play the role of a democratic lighthouse to
promote faster change in the PRC.

"Moreover, we should also emphasize the fact that this law
is not being deliberated or approved in a democratic process
but rammed through by a tool of an autocratic regime and
that it has no legitimacy over the 23 million people in
Taiwan or the government that they have directly and freely


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