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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.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 001137

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: CHINA'S ANTI-SECESSION LAW

1. Summary: Leading newspapers in Taiwan continued
their coverage March 16 of the impact of China's Anti-
Secession Law and the U.S. role in the matter, although
local politics appeared on the front pages of some of
the newspapers. All newspapers carried stories
regarding Taiwan Premier Frank Hsieh's remarks that the
Chinese law threatens Taiwan with possible war and
justifies Taiwan holding a referendum on the issue.
Several newspapers linked the ruling party's plan to
hold mass demonstration to protest the Anti-Secession
Law March 26 to hopes that Washington might have some
message for Taiwan after Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice visits Beijing, although some have also made it
clear that the U.S. reaction to the law so far has not
been as strong as Taiwan expected. The headline of a
page-four news analysis in the conservative, pro-
unification "United Daily News" reads: "The United
States leniently criticizes China. Taipei fails to gain
upper hand in cross-Strait wrestle." The pro-
independence "Taiwan Daily," in a page-two story, said
the decision to hold mass demonstration March 26 allows
the Taiwan government sufficient time to gather support
and to prepare for a big fight with China.

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2. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran an
editorial again that cautioned the Taiwan people about
China's attempt to incrementally annex Taiwan, while
both a commentary in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
and an editorial in the limited-circulation, pro-
independence (English-language) "Taipei Times" chose to
focus on U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's
upcoming visit to China. The "Apple Daily" commentary
said Taiwan is waiting to see what Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice will say to Beijing regarding the Anti-
Secession Law when she visits, and the "Taipei Times"
editorial expressed the hope that Rice will see through
Beijing's two-faced strategy and discern the true face
of China. The pro-unification "United Daily News," on
the other hand, questioned President Chen Shui-bian's
purpose in joining the mass rally scheduled for March
26 to protest China's anti-secession law, while the pro-
unification, limited-circulation (English-language)
"China Post" editorial urged Chen to step back from his
position of supporting Taiwan independence and to
embrace the concept of one China. End summary.

A) "The Ruling and Opposition Parties Should Be
Vigilant Against China's Incremental and Imperceptible
Annexation of Taiwan"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
800,000] editorialized (3/16):

". Taiwan and China have been two independent sovereign
nations, which do not belong to each other. Their
interactions will only be restrained by international
law and bilateral treaties. The internal law of any
one side cannot interfere with the internal affairs of
the other. Therefore, China's enactment of the Anti-
Secession Law can only satisfy its internal nationalism
and hawkish sentiments. The law can never be applied to
Taiwan. Frankly speaking, China has always had the
ambition to annex Taiwan. Its threat to Taiwan will
absolutely not increase or decrease because of the Anti-
Secession Law. Whether it will use military force
against Taiwan also depends on its capabilities and
strength, not on the existence of a legal basis.
Consequently, although the people of Taiwan are
extremely disgusted with the law and will certainly not
accept such brutal and savage treatment of Taiwan by
China, and Taiwan should remain vigilant about China's
threat, there is no need to be scared. Should the
whole nation fall into extreme nervousness, it would
very easily lead to popular anxiety and confusion. For
example, an internal struggle between the ruling and
opposition parties will give the enemy a good chance to
exploit [weakness]. That is why the ruling and
opposition parties must have a common understanding of
this and together speak out to the international
community so that the whole world will know the true
anti-aggression and anti-annexation wishes of the
Taiwan people. ."

B) "Is the United States a Mediator Between the Two
Sides of the Taiwan Strait?"

Antonio Chiang, former deputy secretary-general of
Taiwan's National Security Council, commented in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 500,000]
(3/16):

". The United States is getting more and more involved
in the disputes between the two sides of the Taiwan
Strait, and its role is more than that of a proactive
third party [and] has almost reached the level of that
of a prestigious senior. Over the past three years,
subtle changes have occurred in the triangular
relationship between Taipei, Washington and Beijing.
Both sides of the Taiwan Strait want to discuss cross-
Strait disputes with Washington, and Washington
negotiates with both sides in an attempt to prevent
tensions from escalating in the Taiwan Strait.

"But the chief requirement for being a `prestigious
senior' is impartiality. As an arbitrator, one must at
least maintain an image of being unbiased on the
surface, or one will fail in the role. If Washington
fails to adopt certain measures or place certain
pressure on China [regarding the anti-secession law],
it will lose its credibility and the trust of Taiwan.
Taiwan is waiting to see what U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice will say to Beijing when she visits
China. During this period of time [prior to Rice's
trip], fervent public opinion demonstrated by Taiwan's
society can strengthen the bargaining chips to be used
by Rice when negotiating with China. .

"In addition to being a mediator, arbitrator or a
balancer in the cross-Strait relations, the United
States is also a manipulator, and its final aim is not
[focused on] Taiwan's democracy but on the United
States' own interests. This is a fact that we must not
forget."

C) "Rice Should See China's True Face"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] noted in an editorial (3/16):

". We hope that on her trip through Asia, [U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice will discern the

SIPDIS
true face of China's communist government. There are
some signs this [sic] has already happened. Why else
would the US have used unusually strong language in its
human rights report published on Feb. 28 to condemn
China's violations, including the use of the US-led war
on terror as a pretext for brutally suppressing Uygurs
and Muslims in China's northwestern Xinjiang Province?
The report points out that in 2003, China imprisoned
hundreds of thousands of its own people without trial.
This is evidence that the result of China's growing
economic prosperity and national power has merely been
to let a small, corrupt clutch of leaders and their
families enjoy the fruits of reform and deregulation,
while the Communist Party's monopoly on power and
willful disregard for human rights remains unchanged. .

"Rice should see through Beijing's two-faced strategy
and realize that in China's repressive regime, there is
no such a thing as an enlightened leader. They are all
a bunch of thugs whose paramount interest is to
preserve the CCP's stranglehold on power. Beijing's
autocrats will not risk losing their cherished monopoly
on power by introducing a democratic electoral system.

"The US State Department used to harbor the wishful
view that China could be peacefully transformed. The
belligerent content of the `anti-secession' law shows
just how nave and prosperous that idea really is."

D) "To Fight for What? For Whom? To Demonstrate for
What? For Whom?"


The editorial of conservative, pro-unification "United
Daily News" [circulation: 600,000] commented (3/16):

". President Chen has openly called for a one million-
person demonstration. However, whether he will
personally participate in the demonstration has not
been decided thus far. Obviously, even President Chen
himself is not clear that is it necessary to
demonstrate and to demonstrate for what and for whom? .

"Therefore, in the face of such a situation, President
Chen needs to honestly state to the people: Will
President [Chen] decide to end the Taiwan independence
line in order to alleviate the cross-Strait situation?
Or, the President, while taking necessary steps to
counter China's advance, will he continue to promote
this line and is ready to face the anti-independence
war that China may start under the Anti-secession Law?
.

"China's legislation of the Anti-secession Law can be
seen as a major failure of President Chen's promotion
of Taiwan independence. So President Chen must first
make a choice among 1) continuing the Taiwan
independence line; 2) giving up the independence line;
3) or overtly giving up but covertly continuing this
line. Then he can make up him mind: does he really
want to join the demonstration and to demonstrate for
what and for whom?"

E) "Beyond Venting Indignation, Taiwan Must Practice
Realism"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" [circulation: 30,000] said in an editorial
(3/16):

". [W]e must be being [sic] realistic in coping with
all the possible risks and difficulties likely to be
brought about by the hostile mainland legislation. .
Taiwan cannot afford not to live peacefully with a fast
rising world power living just next door.

"If the anti-secession law indeed poses a crisis for
Taiwan, it also presents a way for use to turn the
challenge into an opportunity. Beyond contemplating
the military intimidation, Beijing also offers a wide
range of proposals for reconciliation. The include
opening talks to end the state of hostility and
adopting measures to expand travel, transport service
and economic exchanges.

"But the reconciliation offer is conditional.
President Chen Shui-bian must e willing to step back
from his position of supporting independence and
instated embrace the concept of one China. Chen's
persistent adherence to his ideologically driven stance
over the last five years of his administration has been
the stumbling block to the improvement of relations
with Beijing.

"There is an ancient Chinese saying: He who tied the
bell on the tiger's neck is the one to untie it.
President Chen who actually prompted Beijing to enact
the anti-secession law by his past relentless push for
a new Constitution and change to sensitive names to
realize de jure independence must move to defuse the
risk of war by changing course."

PAAL

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