Cablegate: Media Reaction: China's Anti-Secession Law, Cross-
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
280920Z Mar 05
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 TAIPEI 001426
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - ROBERT
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: CHINA'S ANTI-SECESSION LAW, CROSS-
1. Summary: All major Taiwan newspapers carried extensive
coverage over the weekend of the massive protest in Taipei
March 26 against China's new Anti-Secession Law. All Taiwan
newspapers described the rally in front of Taipei's
Presidential Office as a peaceful demonstration, although
their reports on the number of participants differed
dramatically. The centrist "China Times" ran eight pages of
reports March 27 about the march, with a banner headline
"Democracy, Peace, Protect Taiwan" on its front page. It
also, however, ran another story about a Taiwan business
leader's public support of a "One China" policy on its front
2. Tackling future cross-Strait relations following China's
legislation of the Anti-Secession Law, Professor Chu Yun-han
wrote in the centrist "China Times" March 28 that Taiwan has
to choose between putting cross-Strait ties at a standstill
or gradually moving toward negotiations. A "China Times"
editorial March 27 called for harmony and reconciliation
between two sides of the Taiwan Strait as being the next
steps in cross-Strait relations. The pro-unification "United
Daily News" pointed to a lack of policy on the part of
President Chen Shui-bian as being the main cause for
heightened cross-Strait tension. The English-language, pro-
unification "China Post" urged both sides to cool down and
to start cross-Strait dialogue. In the meantime, pro-
independence "Liberty Times" and "Taiwan Daily" lauded the
March 26 demonstration as a show of the Taiwan people's
will. "Taipei Times," also a pro-independence newspaper,
called for a curb on Taiwan investment in China. End
A) "Limited Choices for Taiwan"
Chu Yun-han, a political science professor with National
Taiwan University, commented in the "Weekly Review" column
in the centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation:
"In response to Beijing's inclusion of `non-peaceful means'
in a law [meant] to suppress the Taiwan independence
movement, leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party chose
to hold a `March 26 Protest against Anti-Secession Law' as
their main campaign to counter China, while they have no
plans to taking stronger action for the sake of political
confrontation. Not long ago, U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice used the low-key language of "not helpful"
to express U.S. disapproval when commenting on the Anti-
Secession Law. She also reiterated the U.S. stance by
saying "both sides cannot unilaterally change the status
quo" and "[The United States] encourages both sides to
resume dialogue." The two models of responses have clearly
mapped out the basic structure for the development of cross-
Strait relations, and the limited political choices Taiwan
faces under the framework set by the current situation.
"What really worries the United States is not the Anti-
Secession Law itself, but the strategic judgmental ability
demonstrated by the leaders of Hu Jintao's generation. The
Anti-Secession law is just [part of] Beijing's demonstration
of its strategic judgment, while the various military
preparations by Beijing accompanying the Anti-Secession Law
are a more important indicator [of it].
"Meanwhile, the United States has also worked hard under the
table to help a meeting between [President] Chen Shui-bian
and [PFP chairman] James Soong to materialize, and make the
DPP government return firmly to keeping its promise to be on
track with the existing constitution and the `Five Nos' via
the ten-point agreement. This political act, timed [to
coincide with] the eve of the passage of the Anti-Secession
Law, has taken the steam away from the boiling cross-Strait
situation on the one hand, and also cleanses Taipei's name
as being a troublemaker on the other hand.
"After the excitement of the March 26 rally fades, Taiwan
still has to adjust practically to the restraint which grows
more clear and firmly restricting as time goes by. In the
foreseeable future, Taiwan basically has only two choices
left, with the first one being `stalling and refraining from
breaking the ice' and the second `heading slowing toward
negotiations.' Under the first option, Taiwan would still
refuse to cross the threshold of `recognizing the 1992
Consensus' set up by Beijing. The formal channel for cross-
Strait negotiation would still be closed, the military
standoff would continue, there would still be endless wars
on the diplomatic battlefield, and the normalization of
cross-Strait economic and trade relations would still be far
away with no time set for completion. But the trend of
Taiwan's growing economic dependence on China would not
change, and Taiwan's bleeding economy would not be remedied.
Meanwhile, although those who propound independence can
still subjectively maintain the space for imagining `Taiwan
still has independence as an option,' though objectively `de
jure Taiwan independence' would be killed off. Therefore
there would still be political impulses within Taiwan to
challenge this bottom line, the momentum for mobilization
[for the cause of independence] would ebb away, and the high
tension between the two sides can come under control.
"Under the second choice, Taiwan's mainstream opinion would
return to the fundamental consensus of `one China under the
Constitution,' and the public would be willing to respond to
Beijing's prerequisite of [accepting] `One China' on this
basis. The mechanism for cross-Strait negotiations will
restart, and the administrative negotiations would gradually
"Chen Shui-bian's willingness to sign the ten-point joint
statement with James Soong, his statement on `quit deceiving
ourselves and others' in response to the pro-independence
activists' keen promotion of the making of a new
constitution and for name rectification, together with his
choice of limited political rebuttal after the passage of
the Anti-Secession Law show that he admits the existence of
the [restricting] framework. Meanwhile, Premier Frank Hsieh
delivered a discourse on `one China under the Constitution'
when he first took up the premiership, plus Chen Shui-bian
also committed himself to the promise of resuming
negotiations [with Beijing] on the basis of the achievements
reached in the Hong Kong talk [in 1992] when he recently
held a video conference with members of the European media
and of parliament -- these gestures seem to reveal that Chen
Shui-bian is inclined to walk out of the political and
economic predicaments imposed by the first option, and try
out the way paved out by the second option.
"Judging from the angle of this broad situation, the March
26 rally may not necessarily be the beginning of a new round
of political friction and standoff for cross-Strait
relations, but can be a start for a new stage for trying out
B) "Taiwan Should Move toward Ethnic Harmony and Push for
Cross-Strait Reconciliation After the [March 26] March]"
The centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation:
600,000] editorialized (3/27):
". The March 26 rally stimulated by the Anti-Secession Law
is absolutely a necessary response, but the next step [for
Taiwan] should not be endless demonstrations, and should
never be conversion to Taiwan independence, which will be
used by China as an excuse for China to adopt non-peaceful
measures according to the Anti-Secession Law.
"To take this a step further, demonstrations must not only
stop right now, but we should get rid of passion, retrieve
rationality, suspend political mobilization, and let people
take a rest. [The government] should dissolve internal
confrontations, and plan for Taiwan's external space that
will not be suppressed or threatened in order to create a
favorable environment for survival and development. ."
C) "March without Speech: A Classic of Populism That
Highlights `Movement without Policy'"
The conservative, pro-unification "United Daily News"
commented in an editorial [circulation: 600,000] (3/27):
". The Anti-Secession Law can be viewed as the temporary
conclusion of cross-Strait interactions [that have taken
place] over more than the past ten years, and the [March 26]
march as the end of several trials of Taiwan independence
from the statement of `state-to-state' relations to the
names-change plan and constitutional reform. Over more than
ten years, due to the thrust of Taiwan independence,
constitutional reform was controlled by a foreign nation,
legislation through a referendum was blocked by a foreign
nation, a defensive referendum was distorted by foreign
interference. The names-change plan and constitutional
reform obtained nothing but much cry and little wool.
[Taiwan's] sovereignty has been suppressed several times,
and the constitutional structure is equivalent to being
supervised by a foreign country. The leader of the ruling
party should definitely bear all responsibility (for this),
however, he has adopted populism and has summoned millions
of people to demonstrate and cover up for his guilt. The
same scenario applies to the situation [where] Mainland
Affairs Council officials attend a demonstration when there
is no progress on cross-Strait relations; Ministry of
Foreign Affairs officials also attend a demonstration when
Taiwan's diplomatic position in the world is in the soup;
Ministry of Economic Affairs officials also attend a
demonstration when cross-Strait trade is in the cart. At
the critical moment, the ruling class of the country did not
carry out reflection, but tried their best to go to the
streets and attend a demonstration. Is this solemn and
stirring or just absurd?"
D) "March Showed the Will of Taiwan"
The pro-independence, "Liberty Times" [circulation: 800,000]
"On the surface, China's enactment of the `Anti-Secession'
Law targets the `Taiwan independence forces.' In reality,
anyone who rejects unification is part of the `Taiwan
"However, many moderate voters and grassroots members of the
pan-blue camp participated in the march yesterday. This
explains why the majority of the Taiwanese people have come
to realize that the threat against Taiwan draws no
distinctions between pan-green and pan-blue camps.
"Regardless how people may differ in terms of political
ideologies, Taiwan must fight off the imposition of Chinese
hegemony first. The direction of the popular will in Taiwan
is very clear - to protect the right to self-determination."
E) The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" [circulation:
150,000] editorialized (3/27):
". Yesterday's March for Democracy and Peace to Protect
Taiwan, which was massive and ended peacefully, fully
demonstrated the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan society
- that is, the more unreasonably China suppresses Taiwan,
the more strongly Taiwanese people will demonstrate their
awareness of Taiwanese sovereignty.
"President Chen Shui-bian, who led his family out on the
streets, should use popular opinion as his endorsement to
rebuke China when the Chinese government tries to suppress
Taiwan unreasonably again. We believe that international
society, which belongs to the camp of democracy, will also
understand and support President Chen's judgment . ."
F) "Time to Cool Down"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China
Post" [circulation: 30,000] observed in an editorial (3/27):
"Clearly, the people of Taiwan are not willing to sacrifice
their sovereignty and independence in exchange for vague
promises of a better future from the other side of the
"The vast majority of people also strongly object to
Beijing's obstinate insistence on its `right' to use
military force against us in the event we do something that
offends mainland China's communist leadership. Now that the
people of Taiwan have let their voices be heard on this
issue, it is our hope that things will calm down quickly
before any more damage is done.
"Since mainland Chinese President Hu Jintao has already
publicly stated that Beijing is willing to meet and talk
with representatives of all major political parties in
Taiwan, we recommend that the next step should be opening
such dialogues as soon as possible."
G) "Time to Curb Investment in China"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (3/28):
"Sustainable corporate management means moving on from
contract manufacturing to concentrate on research and
development, innovation and developing brand marketing. That
is the only way for Taiwanese companies to compete in the
world market. Investment in China runs counter to that goal,
since it give paramount importance to cheap labor and land
while ignoring R&D, innovation and brand marketing. Relying
only on price will lead to cutthroat competition and
"Taiwanese investment in China is a slow form of suicide for
our industrial base and the economy as a whole. China's
`Anti-Secession' Law is visible threat, while investment in
that country is a less tangible one. Unrestrained investment
in China simply prepares us for the slaughter.."