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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations,

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: The Taipei dailies concentrated their
coverage this past weekend on cross-Strait relations,
while their focus shifted Monday to report on their
front pages that President Chen Shui-bian ordered the
DPP caucus in the Legislative Yuan to overturn the "Law
on the National Assembly's Exercise of Power" that was
passed last Friday. Members of Taiwan's National
Assembly are responsible for voting on constitutional

2. Both the centrist "China Times" and the pro-
unification "United Daily News" reported on their front
pages Saturday (May 21) that the Taiwan government
welcomes China's decision to lift its ban on mainland
Chinese making sightseeing trips to Taiwan, but each
newspaper emphasized that both sides should negotiate
to ensure the policy is acceptable to both governments.
The pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest
daily, however, ran a banner headline on its second
page that day that said: "Bian: Taiwan's China fever is
declining." The sub-headline added: "[Bian] accepted
an interview from The Economist, saying that [China's]
suppression of [Taiwan's] WHO bid has waken up those
who have illusions about China. [Bian also] criticized
that the `both sides on the Strait, one China'
[statement] is a step backward."

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3. The "Liberty Times," in the meantime, carried a
news story on cross-Strait relations on page two with
the headline: "President Chen: Bian-Hu meeting must be
held at a third country." The sub-headline read:
"[Chen] said in private that there should not be any
preconditions for the meeting between him and Hu,
including the One China and 1992 Consensus. But based
on the results of [KMT Chairman] Lien Chan's and [PFP
Chairman] James Soong's China trips, chances are slim
for Bian and Hu to meet now."

4. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty
Times" editorial urged Chen to stick to the Taiwan-
centered route and not to sacrifice Taiwan's
sovereignty just because he wants to take certain
measures to seek reconciliation and co-existence. A
commentary in the limited-circulation, pro-
independence, English-language "Taipei Times" said Chen
is now standing at a crossroads with regard to cross-
Strait policy. In the centrist "China Times,"
Professor Chu Yun-han wrote a commentary that described
the constitutional reform process in Taiwan as
"bizarre." End summary.

1. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "[The Government] Must Not Sacrifice Its Objectives
Simply Because It Wants to Adopt Certain Measures to
Seek Reconciliation and Co-existence - the Taiwan-
Centered Route Must Not Be Changed Again"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
800,000] editorialized (5/23):

". Even though President A-bian did not deliver any
speech May 20, the anniversary of his inauguration day,
he emphasized Sunday when participating in the annual
meeting of the Lion's Club that [he will] uphold
Taiwan's national sovereignty, [and] stick to the
ideals of democratic reforms and the Taiwan-centered
route to seek reconciliation and dialogue. In the next
three years, A-bian must thoroughly put all these words
into practice, both in the aspect of the interaction
between the ruling and opposition parties and with
regard to cross-Strait relations. Only by that can he
realize the promises he made during his campaigns and
walk out a new route that upholds Taiwan-centered
consciousness, and only by doing so can Taiwan's
security and the well-being of Taiwan people be

B) "Chen at a Crossroads over Cross-Strait Policy"

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Soochow
University Emile Sheng noted in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000]

". In setting up his cross-strait policy, Chen has to
consider the reactions of Washington, Beijing,
opposition parties, independence forces in Taiwan, the
DPP's factions and public opinion. It is not easy to
find a balance between these various forces, but Chen's
vacillating and shortsighted tactics have increased the
hostility of opponents and raised doubts among
supporters. If he really wants to achieve something in
the time remaining, he must pursue a consistent
political agenda and prepare himself to deal with the
criticism that this may engender. .

"Chen is at crossroads, and none of the options before
him - whether to risk war, seek peace or to
procrastinate - are easy. But if political infighting
deprives him of the ability to choose one of these
roads, then many opportunities will simply pass us by.
Whether When will succeed in the end will be determined
not only by his sincerity, but also by his vision.

"Vision refers not only to a skillful political
strategy but also to broad political horizons. Chen
must rise above personal or partisan motives and think
about setting an example for the rest of the world.
For the future of cross-strait relations, Chen should
work with opposition parties rather than engaging in
political infighting and divisive strategies."

2. Constitutional Reform

A) "Fantastic Story of Taiwan's Constitutional Reforms"

Professor Chu Yun-han of the National Taiwan
University's Department of Political Science commented
in the centrist, pro-status quo "China Time"
[circulation: 600,000] (5/23):

". Two things are very bizarre with regard to the
constitutional reform process this time: First, over
the past ten years, the Legislative Yuan has been tying
its hands and has never exercised its authority to
amend [Taiwan's] Constitution. But look at the
masterpiece of its first effort in leading
constitutional revision: it has passed a constitutional
proposal with regard to congressional reforms, which
will definitely seriously undermine the Legislative
Yuan's role in representing the diversity of our
society and undercut its legislative and supervisory
functions. Second, many political figures used to
regard public participation in constitutional reform as
the highest objective for democratic reforms, and as a
result, they tried their best to promote the proposal
of `abolishing ad hoc National Assembly
representatives' and replaced it with a `public
referendum on constitutional reform.' They also tried
to package the referendum as the main course of the set
meal of constitutional reform this time and define the
ad hoc National Assembly election as a `substantive'
referendum. But in the end, the less than one fourth
of the voter turnout rate showed that this
constitutional reform lacks justification in a
democratic sense and has formed a constitutional wound
that is hard to mend. ."


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