Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Media Exchanges,
122344Z Apr 05
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 001756
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: CROSS-STRAIT MEDIA EXCHANGES,
JAPANESE HISTORY TEXTBOOK CONTROVERSY
1. Summary: Major Chinese-languages Taipei dailies
started to comment April 12 on a Mainland Affairs
Council's (MAC) announcement Sunday that Taiwan would
temporary ban China's Xinhua News Agency and the
People's Daily from sending journalists to Taiwan. The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" editorial supported
MAC's decision by saying these so-called cross-Strait
"media exchanges" are basically a "fairy tale that
deceives all people" in light of the lack of press
freedom in China. The centrist "China Times," on the
other hand, ran an editorial that suggested Taiwan's
"open society" is its greatest asset and the one thing
that makes Taiwan better than China. Taiwan would
become a "total loser" if it were to give up this
asset, the editorial said. Kao Ling-yun, a "United
Evening News" reporter who was a participant in the
Spring 2004 Jefferson Fellowship program at the East-
West Center, said in an op-ed piece in the pro-
unification "United Daily News" that media exchanges
are an international trend and Taiwan should not brag
about being democratic while at the same time trying to
aggressively control media outlets.
2. The anti-Japanese protests in China and South Korea
against Japan's history textbooks that justify Japan's
aggression during World War II still did not receive
significant coverage in the major Chinese-language
newspapers in Taiwan April 12. Stories on the protests
were buried deep in the last few pages of these
newspapers, and only two limited-circulation English-
language newspapers commented on the issue. The pro-
independence English-language "Taipei Times" editorial
cautioned the Taiwan government to be sensitive to
tensions between Japan and China while avoiding
becoming directly involved in any Sino-Japanese
dispute. The pro-unification English-language "China
Post" focused its commentary on China's attempt to
"block" Japan's rise in international stature. End
1. Cross-Strait Media Exchanges
A) "With News Coverage That Distorts Truth, What Is the
Need to Talk about [Cross-Strait] Media Exchanges?"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
800,000] editorialized (4/12):
". Taiwan and China are two totally different
countries. Taiwan enjoys democracy and freedom, but
China is a totalitarian country. In terms of press
freedom, Taiwan's media not only enjoys freedom of the
press but has also enjoyed too much freedom of the
press. As for China, all its media outlets are
politically controlled, let alone press freedom. The
Chinese Communist Party's `party-controlled propaganda'
is now practically a sacred doctrine that cannot be
violated. Under such a situation whereas both sides of
the Taiwan Strait enjoy uneven freedom of press, the so-
called cross-Strait `media exchanges' are nothing but a
fairy tale that deceives all people.
"Take the cases of Xinhua News Agency and People's
Daily as an example, the government's opening policy
[to allow these two Chinese media outlets to send
journalists to Taiwan] was originally designated to
promote Chinese people's understanding of Taiwan. But
as China's official mouthpieces, how could the Xinhua
News Agency and People's Daily maintain an objective
viewpoint and the principle of genuine reporting when
they covered, reported and commented on Taiwan's news?
To put it more plainly, the performance of the Xinhua
News Agency and People's Daily is tantamount to
reaching deep into Taiwan and conducting political work
for the Beijing authorities; they are basically serving
the politics of `twisting Taiwan's reality from Taiwan.
.' Their behavior not only will not `contribute to the
understanding across the Taiwan Strait' but have
deepened the Chinese people's misunderstanding of
Taiwan's public opinion and the value of democracy and
freedom. As a result, the move to allow Xinhua News
Agency and People's Daily to send journalists to Taiwan
has done nothing favorable for either Taiwan or the
Chinese people. ."
B) "An `Open Society' Is Taiwan's Greatest Asset.
Please Cherish It!"
An editorial of the centrist, pro-status quo "China
Times" [circulation: 600,000] wrote (4/12):
". This is the function of media. One does not see an
immediate effect [of media reporting], but it gradually
opens the vision of media . and the self-consciousness
of the reporters. [Through media reporting], the most
valued characteristics of Taiwan's society can thus be
revealed - namely, Taiwan's democracy, rule of law,
freedom of speech and thinking - none of which are
something that mainland China can compare to. Even if
mainland China's economic growth continues to surge or
its military power continues to grow, it cannot turn
into an open society in a short period of time. What
Taiwan should attach the greatest importance to is in
fact this invisible asset that is deep-rooted in the
people of Taiwan. .
"Now, even if Taiwan's economic power is not as strong
as that of mainland China's; its military strength is
weaker that of mainland China's and its influence on
the international society is much inferior than that of
mainland China's, its free and open society, democracy
and rule of law is actually the most important key that
makes itself a winner over China. Taiwan will be a
total loser if it wants to give up this last advantage.
C) "[Taiwan] Brags about Itself Being Democratic But
Still Gruffly Constrains the Media"
United Evening News Journalist Kao Lin-yun wrote an op-
ed article in the conservative, pro-unification,
Chinese-language "United Daily News" [circulation:
"The Mainland Affairs Council made the decision to ban
journalists from People's Daily and Xinhua News Agency
from covering news in Taiwan. The decision is not
conducive for the accumulation of goodwill with regard
to cross-Strait interaction. Instead, it reflects in
particular the hostility toward the media in the
consciousness of the [Taiwan] government. The
government made the attempt to punish the Chinese media
outlets . simply because it is displeased with the
Chinese authorities. The attempt, which lacks
democratic spirit, is the same as the Government
Information Office's decision a few years ago to use
censorship to oppress Taiwan's media that criticized
the government. .
"Taiwan has always been proud of itself as being more
democratic than China politically. Can a democracy
find it hard to handle even two media outlets?
Moreover, since the government dared to allow Chinese
media outlets to send journalists to Taiwan, it should
be capable of enduring their [negative] reports. Or
does the government want to demand those Chinese media
outlets to become its own mouthpiece? ."
2. Japanese History Textbook Controversy
A) "Avoid Fanning Sino-Japanese Unrest"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (4/12):
". Such an upsurge of anti-Japanese nationalism will
necessarily rouse Japanese nationalism. China's and
South Korea's joint protests against Japan have made
Tokyo feel isolated and threatened. This is likely to
make it more determined to secure its security
relationship with the US. Japan's rearmament,
therefore, seems, inevitable.
"With the expansion of the Sino-Japanese conflict,
Taiwan's security and regional stability could suffer.
Taiwan and Japan are both threatened by China.
Washington and Tokyo have noted their concerns over
Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait in their joint declaration
on security. However, recent incidents, such as the
Anti-Secession Law and Taiwan's Solidarity Union
Chairman Shu Chin-chiang's visit to the Yasukuni
Shrine, have polarized Taiwanese public opinion with
regard to China and Japan. The government should be
sensitive to tension between Japan and China and
prepare a response strategy, but for the moment it
should avoid getting directly involved in any Sino-
B) "PRC Blocking Japan's Rise"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" [circulation: 30,000] observed in an
"Beijing is trying to block the rise of Japan by
keeping it out of the United Nations Security Council.
Grave implications are in store for Taiwan. .
"If china prevented Japan's elevation, it would mark
their most serious confrontation since Japan's invasion
of China in 1937.
"The U.S. and Japan are well-prepared for the worst
scenario with China, but Taiwan, unfortunately, is on
the wrong side of it."