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Cablegate: Southern Taiwan Reaction to 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 001195

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
DEPT FOR EAP/TC

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON TW
SUBJECT: Southern Taiwan Reaction to Anti-Secession Law:
Strong Political but Moderate Business/Academic Response

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) In the political heartland of Taiwan's independence
movement, Southern Taiwan political leaders have reacted
strongly to Beijing's passage of the "Anti-Secession Law"
(ASL), with acting Kaohsiung City Mayor, Chen Chi Mai and
Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsing taking leading
roles in mobilizing participants for the upcoming March 26
rally in Taipei. Local business leaders have been much more
muted in their response. While none are happy with the law,
most do not expect a major impact on business. Local
academics likewise are uniformly unhappy with the law. Thus
far, however, the ASL has had no noticeable impact on cross-
Strait academic exchanges. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Southern Taiwan's reaction to Beijing's passage of
the ASL has been uniformly negative, but thus far it appears
to have had little effect outside of the political arena.
Local politicians and pro-independence groups have denounced
the ASL and urged followers to join political protests.
However, the local business and academic communities thus
far do not anticipate the ASL will have a major impact on
cross-Strait business and academic ties. Given that
Southern Taiwan is the heartland of the pro-independence
movement as well as the political base of the ruling
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity
Union (TSU), the overall negative reaction is not
unexpected.

Southern Taiwan Politicians Protest ASL
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Southern Taiwan political leaders reacted strongly
and swiftly to Beijing's passage of the ASL. The day of the
ASL passage, Acting DPP Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-Mai, who is
close to President Chen, coordinated a protest letter signed
by all of Southern Taiwan's Magistrates and Mayors,
including one KMT and one independent Magistrate. Several
Northern Taiwan officials also signed onto the protest
letter, including Tao Yuan Magistrate Chu Li-lun, a member
of the opposition KMT. The statement entitled
"Safeguarding Democracy and Peace, Opposing Military
Annexation: An Objection to China's Secession Law" was
published in English in the Taipei Times (one of the major
local English papers). The published protest letter, with
signatures of all the Mayors and Magistrates, did not carry
a by-line, but Kaohsiung Mayor Chen's office informed to
AIT/K that Chen had initiated the document.

4. (SBU) All of the Southern Taiwan DPP Magistrates and
Mayors are also actively urging supporters to participate in
the March 26 protest planned in Taipei. At a press
conference the day following passage of the ASL, Kaohsiung
Mayor Chen urged all people, and specifically Taipei KMT
Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, to participate in the protest rally
scheduled for 26 March. Mayor Chen, along with Kaohsiung's
DPP leadership, is working vigorously to mobilize
participants for the rally, with the goal of filling 276
forty-passenger buses. The Mayor's office itself has
committed to filling forty of the 276 buses.

5. (SBU) Kaohsiung County's DPP Magistrate, Yang Chiu-
hsing, has also been publicly active to promote the protest
rally. On March 15 Yang held a press conference to protest
China's "unilateral change to the status quo." He has urged
all Kaohsiung County government employees to attend the
March 26 rally and asked them to help mobilize others to
join. Yang emphasized that the event is important not only
to send a message to China, but also to communicate Taiwan's
reaction to the international community. Kaohsiung County's
goal is to mobilize 130 forty-passenger buses for the March
26 event.

Local Businessmen See No Impact on Cross-Strait Interests
--------------------------------------------- ------------

6. (SBU) Reaction among Southern Taiwan's business
community to the ASL has also been mostly negative.
However, most business leaders do not anticipate the ASL
will have a negative impact on their interests. Secretary
General of Kaohsiung's Importers and Exporters Association,
almost all the members of which have Mainland China
operations, told AIT/K that no Association members were
likely to close or move their operations out of China
despite the negative reaction to the ASL. A few, he had
heard, might look to other regional locations for future
investments should they feel the risks in Mainland China are
rising. He cited one of his members, a Taiwanese carton
manufacturer who had operations in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province,
had just returned from China to Taiwan and told him that all
the local Chinese people he had spoken to in recent days had
been completely ignorant of the whole ASL issue. As in
Taiwan, he said, local Chinese people are mainly focused on
making a living rather than politics.

7. (SBU) While other Southern business leaders also said
they expected no major impact on cross-Strait business, they
expressed support for the March 26 rally in order to "send a
strong message to China." Few local businesspersons have
told AIT/K they plan to participate in the March 26 rally,
however. An exception is the Taiwan Deep Sea Tuna Boat
Owners and Exporters Association. Association President
Wang Shun-long said he will lead a delegation of members to
join the rally. Wang added however that his Association had
taken note of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's proposal to allow
Chinese fishermen to work on Taiwan's fishing fleet, an
initiative that his Association would welcome.

8. (SBU) Local business leaders in Southern Taiwan's
services industries are concerned that heightened cross-
Strait tensions could impact investment and tourism in
Taiwan. However, most believed the ASL and Taiwan's
response would create a temporary period of tension that
would ease up quickly. Kaohsiung Architecture and
Investment Association President, Kuo Min-neng, told AIT/K
that he believed the ASL marked a rock bottom point in cross-
Strait relations and that, in particular, apprehension
leading up to ASL passage had adversely impacted Taiwan's
investment climate. However, Kuo did not believe things
would get any worse and that investors would quickly calm
down and return to the market.

9. (SBU) Likewise, CEOs from Lucite, China Petrochemical
Development Corporation, Lyondell, Taiwan Chlorine
Industries Ltd., and Ho Tung Chemical Co., Ltd., all told
AIT/K that the did not expect the ASL to have a serious
impact on business. Despite the political rhetoric, they
did not see an increased risk of war. They believed the
initial drop in the Taiwan stock indexes had been very
predictable, simply created a buying opportunity for those
with ready cash, and would quickly rebound. At a regular
meeting of Kaohsiung's American Chamber of Commerce, members
were vocal in criticism of Beijing's passage of the ASL, but
all agreed it would have no impact on their companies'
operations or plans, either in Taiwan or in Mainland China.
Several noted that the ASL was meaningless as it simply
restated Beijing's long-held positions and, in any event,
they believed Beijing would take action toward Taiwan in
whatever fashion it deemed appropriate, with or without an
ASL.

Academics - Unhappy with ASL, but Impact Likely Minimal
--------------------------------------------- ----------

10. (SBU) As with business leaders, Southern Taiwan
academics told AIT/K they and all their colleagues are
uniformly unhappy and angry about Beijing's passage of the
ASL. They noted that student reactions, however, were mixed
with more politically active students having very strong
negative reactions, but the majority relatively indifferent.
Earlier this week, forty students at National Sun Yat-Sen
University (NSYSU) staged a protest at the school and burned
a PRC flag. Small groups of students at other universities
in Kaohsiung and neighboring Kaohsiung and Pingtung Counties
have announced plans for a protest rally on March 20 at the
Kaohsiung Cultural Center, site of the March 6 TSU protest
against the ASL. However, professors at NSYSU told AIT/K
that most students remained apolitical, in part because of
"burn-out" from Taiwan's contentious political campaigns and
debates.

11. (SBU) Political Science Professor Liao Da-chi, who is a
well-known and frequent television political commentator,
told AIT/K that she is angry about the passage of the ASL
which she sees as an unnecessary slap at Taiwan. Liao, a
"mainlander" who is a strong KMT supporter and activist,
noted that even Pan Blue supporters in the South who were
realistic about eventual reunification, such as herself,
were unhappy with the ASL. While she believed it would
significantly increase negative feelings toward China among
the Taiwan population, she did not expect it to set off a
downward spiral in cross-Strait relations and will likely
calm down after a month or two, provided Taiwan reacts in
measured fashion.

12. (SBU) Another NSYSU Professor, Kuo Chih-Wen, who is a
pro-TSU activist and member of the Southern Taiwan Society
expressed a much stronger negative reaction. He said that
he and other "pro-independence" colleagues are fuming mad
about the ASL and are demanding a strong response from the
Taiwan Government. However, he said that few of his "deep-
Green" associates planned to attend the March 26 rally as it
is too far away and many question its potential to have any
impact. He added that he does not believe President Chen
should lead the rally, in order to retain flexibility for
the government to respond, but he expected Chen would at
least greet the protestors. Kuo said the most important
thing for President Chen was to raise the issue to the
international community, especially the U.S., and ensure a
strong international condemnation of Beijing's actions.
Nevertheless, Kuo agreed with his colleagues that the ASL
would not likely have a lasting impact and that tensions
surrounding it would likely subside in a few months. After
all, he noted, nothing in the basic situation had actually
changed - "Taiwan was an independent country and Beijing had
no jurisdiction." China was a major threat to Taiwan's
democratic system and sovereignty before the ASL and
continues to be so.

Cross-Strait Academic Exchanges - Business As Usual
--------------------------------------------- ------

13. (SBU) The International Affairs Office of NSYSU told
AIT/K that the school had thus far received no orders from
education authorities to cancel, suspend or slow any cross-
Strait educational exchange programs. They noted that plans
were going ahead for two academic delegations from the
Mainland to visit National Sun Yat-Sen University in late
March. The two groups include eight members from Sun Yat-
Sen University in Guangzhou and 45 participants from
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. The Guangzhou
group had been invited to Taiwan by Shih Chien University, a
private university located in Taipei, but would also visit
NSYSU on March 31. The Shanghai University of Finance and
Economics Group was sponsored by the Taichung-based Feng
Chia University and involved 40 students and five teachers
from the music program of the school who would perform folk
music throughout Taiwan campuses. The group is scheduled to
perform at NSYSU on March 24. Separately, the National
Kaohsiung University is also moving forward to implement a
new MBA program in Kinmen, Taiwan, to provide classes to
Taiwan businesspersons in Mainland China, via the "mini
three links" (see septel).

FORDEN

PAAL

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