Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Ties

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: All the major Chinese-language newspapers
in Taiwan focused their front-page news coverage May 26
on local politics, with one significant exception: the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest
daily, reported on the United States and cross-Strait
relations on its front page May 26. The "Liberty
Times" ran the headline on its front page: "United
States is concerned that [PFP Chairman James] Soong and
[Chinese President] Hu's `two sides of the Strait, one
China' [concept] will jeopardize Taiwan." The sub-
headline added: "[Presidential Office Secretary-
General] Yu Shyi-kun was kindly reminded by [U.S.
officials] during his U.S. trip that [the `two sides of
the Strait, one China' concept] will easily mislead the
international community to believe that China has shown
goodwill gestures [to Taiwan]. Taiwan needs to think
of a way to address the issue."

2. All the major Chinese-language Taipei dailies ran
on their inside pages news stories on the U.S.-Taiwan
arms deals. The centrist "China Times" spent almost
all of its page four reporting on the issue; the news
stories included U.S. Congressman Robert Andrews'
remarks Tuesday that, to his knowledge, the United
States does not have a deadline regarding the U.S. arms
procurement package to Taiwan; President Chen's call on
the Taiwan people to support the arms procurement
package; and the roles of Taiwan's military, the Pan-
Blue Camp and the Pan-Green Camp behind the arms
procurement politics. Taiwan correspondent for the
"Jane's Defense Weekly," Wendell Minnick, said in a
commentary in the limited-circulation, pro-
independence, English-language "Taipei Times" that
given the weaponry list that Taiwan plans to buy from
the United States, China will easily defeat Taiwan
should a war break out in the Taiwan Strait. The
limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language
"Taiwan News," on the other hand, ignored the arms sale
issue but urged Washington to sign a free trade
agreement (FTA) with Taiwan immediately in order to
thwart China's plan to use FTAs as a platform to
isolate and boycott Taiwan. End summary.

A) "Taiwan's Military Will Fire Blanks"

Wendell Minnick, Taiwan correspondent of the "Jane's
Defense Weekly," commented in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000]

"What kind of military busy 150 guns and only 120
bullets? Taiwan's military, of course.

"Taiwan's air force has enough munitions to last only
two days in a war with China. .

"US military sources say Taiwan needs a minimum of 350
AMRAAMs, 160 Harpoons, 75 Mavericks, and 3,000
Sidewinders to sustain it long enough for US military
forces to arrive to help defend Taiwan.

"The minimum amount of time it would take the US to
respond is five days, but some estimates predict that
Washington would debate the issue for as long as two
weeks before committing forces to Taiwan's defense.

"`Why buy only 120 [AMRAAMs]? How long will those last
in a war? Less than a day! That quantity is not
operationally useful. Taiwan has to take their defense
seriously, instead of just buying hi-tech weapons for
their leaders' prestige. They purchase a fire truck
and don't buy hoses,' one discouraged US defense
official said. .

"Now China's strategy is to force a quick military and
political capitulation during timelines that have
shortened over the past five years. Taiwan needs a
viable `force in being.' There will be no time for an
emergency delivery of AMRAAMs or Sidewinders. It would
be a `come as you are' war. .

".Taiwan also needs additional ALE-50 towed radar
decoys. Taiwan has refused to procure an operationally
useful number of these decoys. To date they have
ordered less decoys than would last one full day if a
war started.

"Taiwan needs two launcher controllers per 150 F-16s
(300 in total). . Taiwan has purchased less than 5
percent of that number of decoys, and only 56 of the
launcher controllers. . A ministry report released last
year concluded that Taiwan's air force would be
`destroyed in a few days.' .

"What does all of this mean in a war with China? China
will rape Taiwan."

B) "U.S. Should Act to Thwart PRC Move to Isolate

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
[circulation: 20,000] editorialized (5/26):

". [L]urking behind China's passion for signing
bilateral FTAs [i.e. free trade agreements] is a
politically motivated plot that cannot be ignored. .

"In fact, the PRC aims to use the legendary attraction
of the `huge China market' to suck its neighboring
economies into a bottomless black hole and at the same
time realize its substantial political strategic
objective of isolating Taiwan. .

"Given the evident drive by Beijing to use bilateral or
multilateral FTAs to isolate Taiwan, we urge Washington
to consider its own fundamental geopolitical strategy
as well as economic interests and rapidly conclude the
ongoing talks with Taiwan and sign a bilateral FTA with
our country.

"Such a breakthrough would open the doors for other
countries, such as Japan, to sign FTAs with Taiwan and
thus thwart the PRC's plan to use FTAs as a platform to
isolate and boycott Taiwan.

"If the U.S. genuinely opposes any unilateral changes
in the current status quo and balance in the Taiwan
Strait, it must allow Taiwan to maintain its
attractiveness as a global and regional trading

"Only by ensuring Taiwan's continued economic
prosperity and vitality can the status quo in the
Taiwan Strait be stabilized."


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