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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Lien Chan's China Trip

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

280807Z Apr 05




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: While the Taipei dailies continued to
report April 28 on the aftermath of the violent clashes
that took place at CKS International Airport between
Pan-Blue and Pan-Green supporters Tuesday when KMT
Chairman Lien Chan departed for his trip to China,
newspapers also focused on the meeting scheduled for
Friday between Lien and Chinese President Hu Jintao in
Beijing. The pro-unification "United Daily News" said
on its front page: "Hu Jintao will meet with Lien Chan
and will propose to offer a Closer Economic Partnership
Arrangement [with Taiwan]." The centrist "China Times"
carried a banner headline on its page four that read:
"Lien will fly to Beijing today and will meet with Hu
Jintao tomorrow." The sub-headline added: "Peace and
trade will be the focus of [Lien-Hu] meeting. It is
expected that Hu will offer a concrete response to the
idea of [establishing] a `common market across the
Taiwan Strait' and will agree to Taiwan's bid to join
the WHO in a private capacity." Taiwan's biggest
daily, the pro-independence "Liberty Times," in the
meantime carried a news story on its second page that
quoted President Chen Shui-bian as saying that he hopes
Beijing will take Taiwan's existence seriously and
believes that Taiwan and China will move further apart
if China seeks to play a dual role as both a "mediator"
and a "punisher."

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2. A "Liberty Times" editorial continued its strong
criticism of Lien's trip and said Lien, when meeting
with Hu, should fearlessly demand that China destroy
all its missiles aimed at Taiwan and abolish the Anti-
Secession Law. It would be a true journey of peace and
Lien would be a true follower of Sun Yat-sen if he does
that, the editorial said; if he does not, the editorial
said, he is simply a political liar. A pro-unification
"United Daily News" editorial, on the other hand,
called the meeting between Lien and Hu tomorrow a
critical opportunity that happens only once in a
lifetime. The editorial called on both Lien and Hu to
work and create a "common prospect" for both sides of
the Taiwan Strait. An op-ed in the centrist "China
Times" discussed the U.S. role in cross-Strait
relations and concluded that the U.S. influence on both
sides is increasing rather than diminishing. End

A) "[If] Lien Chan Fails to Accomplish [His] Historical
Achievement, He Will Become a Public Enemy of the
People on Both Sides of the Taiwan Strait"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
800,000] editorialized (4/28):

". Lien's mentioning about [KMT founder] Sun Yat-sen's
will of `peace, striving and saving China' [during his
China trip] was not only a result of confusion of time
and place but also of values. Today, China and Taiwan
are two separate countries. Regardless of the question
whether China needs to be `saved,' it really has
nothing to do with the Taiwan people even if China
needs to be saved. In particular, China is the real
chief offender that has created the severe situation
across the Taiwan Strait, and we should first `save
Taiwan' rather than `save China.' In other words, how
to save Taiwan from being intimidated by China's
dictatorship; how to save Taiwan's economy from being
dried out by China; how to save Taiwan people's
democratic and free lives from being sabotaged by
China, and how to save Taiwan's independent sovereignty
from being violated by China are the issues that need
to be resolved as a top priority. Since Lien touted
his China trip as a `journey of peace' and he was
promoting the peaceful will of Sun Yat-sen, he should
then justly and fearlessly protest to Chinese leader Hu
Jintao about [Taiwan people's displeasure], demanding
that China destroy all the missiles that it deployed
and aimed at Taiwan and abolish the Anti-Secession Law
which authorized it to use force against Taiwan. Only
by doing that can Lien can his trip a real journey of
peace and himself a true believer of Sun Yat-sen, or he
is simply a political liar. ."

B) "Tomorrow' Lien-Hu Meeting: Not to Miss this
Critical Opportunity Once in a Lifetime!"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation:
600,000] commented in its editorial (4/28):

". Therefore, for those on both sides of the Taiwan
Strait who have a mind to [improve cross-Strait
relations], they must be watchful for the fragile part
of [KMT Chairman] Lien Chan's China trip despite its
seemingly glorious appearance. The difficult part of
the issue lies in: Taiwan cannot possibly find a way
out for the island by neglecting mainland China, and
China cannot resolve the Taiwan issue by adopting the
measure that would destroy both sides indiscriminately.
Lien said he hopes he could find a prospect for people
on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. What he meant was
that it must be a prospect for Taiwan and for mainland
China, or it cannot be called as a `common prospect for
people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.'

"During his first two day's trip, Lien seemed to have
started a very cautious probe. The Beijing
authorities, on the other hand, have offered Lien
positive leeway and response. .

"In an attempt to resolve the `severe impasse' across
the Taiwan Strait as referred to by Lien, Beijing
should have greater tolerance while Taiwan should learn
to be more coherent. Only this way can both sides of
the Taiwan Strait build a peaceful and stable framework
for interactive development. Lien's probe may be
implicit but his intention is very clear. Now it all
depends how [Chinese President] Hu Jintao will respond
at his meeting with Lien tomorrow. Hu's response is
not addressed to Lien alone, but it also points out a
common prospect for both sides of the Taiwan Strait."

C) "U.S. Role Remains in Cross-Strait Relations"

Chen Chung-chih, research assistant of Taiwan's
Prospect Foundation, said in an op-ed in the centrist
"China Times" [circulation: 600,000] (4/28)

". For the United States, it has constantly sent out
signals since last year-end hoping that both sides
could resume dialogue. In the face of the stalemated
cross-Strait relations, Washington believes that the
best way is to have both sides of the Taiwan Strait
engage directly in a dialogue. Thus, [we can say] the
United States is playing the role as an invisible but
solid mediator that proactively pushes both sides to
resume talks.

"But such a role played by the United States started to
change early this year; namely, even though the ruling
party [of Taiwan] strongly criticized the opposition
leaders' trips to China, the State Department still
clearly indicated a supportive attitude, emphasizing
that some Taiwan individuals' recent trips to China are
a positive step. In other words, the focus of
Washington's attention lies in how to make Beijing and
Taipei maintain a channel for dialogue and adopt
measures that are acceptable for both sides and
effective for alleviating tensions across the Taiwan

"Thus, once both sides of the Taiwan Strait resume
dialogue, the United States will no longer stand on the
front line and will return to its original role of the
mediator behind the scene. Washington's gradual hands-
off attitude was evident in its response to former
President Lee Teng-hui's recent remarks. The United
States clearly turned down an offer by Lee that said
`the appropriate venue for negotiating cross-Strait
ties lies is the United States, not Beijing.' In
addition, Washington stressed that the best way to
resolve cross-Strait tension is to resume dialogue
directly and that the United States welcomes any steps
that would help achieve such an objective. Moreover,
Washington said that it does not rely on the United
States to solve all these problems. .

". If our government mishandles the opposition leaders'
trip to China, it will not only miss an excellent
opportunity to be able to take the initiative in
improving cross-Strait ties but will also likely spoil
Washington's hard efforts in pushing for both sides of
the Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue. From this, [we
can say] the United States' influence on both sides of
the Taiwan Strait is increasing rather than
diminishing. How can Taiwan not act carefully [with
regard to the U.S. role and cross-Strait relations]?"


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