Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations, Us Arms
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 002487
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: Cross-Strait Relations, US Arms
1. Taiwan dailies June 7 carried reports on three main
topics: China's military buildup, constitutional amendments,
and a junior-high school exam in Taiwan. With regard to
the first topic, the pro-independence "Liberty Times,"
Taiwan's largest daily, and the pro-independence "Taiwan
Daily" revealed the contents of a report on China's military
strength conducted by U.S. Department of Defense. The
banner-headline on the front page of the "Liberty Times"
announced that "China's Military Buildup is The Same As a
Terrorist Threat"'; the "Taiwan Daily" carried a front-page
banner-headline that read: "The United States Lists China's
Military Buildup and International Terrorist's Actions As
The Threats To Which The United States Should Be Most
Alert." As to the second and the third topics, both the
centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" and the conservative,
pro-unification "United Daily News" carried reports on their
front pages regarding the constitutional amendments that
could possibly be passed today in the National Assembly, and
the results of the fundamental ability exam for junior high
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, the pro-
independence "Liberty Times" editorialized that Taiwan
should not be afraid of postponing talks with China, and
added that there is no need to push for such talks. The pro-
independence "Taiwan Daily" said in the editorial that
Taiwan should be harsh toward China to prevent another "Hsu
Wen-lung" incident from occurring (i.e. when the Taiwan
founder of the Chi-Mei Group was forced to show support for
China's "Anti-Secession Law"). The pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" editorialized that Taiwan
should pass the U.S. arms procurements bill to show Taiwan's
resolution regarding self-defense, which would discourage
China from carrying out its military buildup. However, the
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
took a moderate stance and said in its editorial that no
country, especially Taiwan, would benefit from the rivalry
between the United States and China. With regard to
commentaries, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu
urged in a commentary in "The Taipei Times" that China must
follow Taiwan's lead and become more democratic.
A) "`Not Afraid of Postponing [Talks]' and No Need to `Push
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 800,000]
" . As to China, [Taiwan's strategy of] `Not Afraid of
Postponing [Talks]' is correct, but to `push for talks' is a
terrible mistake. Taiwan's independent sovereignty is the
status quo, [so] why is Taiwan in a rush to conduct talks
with China? Let us seriously remember that China has
recently passed its `Anti-Secession Law,' authorizing the
use of non-peaceful measures to counter Taiwan. China's
military threat to Taiwan is also on the rise. China has
treated Taiwan in a hegemonic way, and has utilized the
measure of `countering Taiwan people by Taiwan people' to
carry out its unification propaganda and to undermine unity
between the Taiwan people. Taiwan, however, `seeks talks'
[with China] like a moth darting into a flame, and as a
result is sending the wrong signal to the international
community that the Taiwan people do not really care about
China's military threat, and the Taiwan people might not
even consider the existence of the threat. If it happens to
be so, no matter how the talk might proceed, Taiwan is
doomed to be a loser."
B) "If Taiwan, When Needed, Cannot Be Harsh Toward China,
There Is a Possibility That the `Hsu Wen-lung' Incident
Could Happen to Other Taiwan Merchants in China"
The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" [circulation: 150,000]
". The Beijing authorities know that the Taiwan government
has no choice but to propose the peaceful route of
`reconciliation and coexistence,' and China bullies the
Taiwan merchants investing in China after figuring out that
no one would defend them. After the passage of time, there
is possibility that some half-hearted Taiwan merchants based
in China would have a biased mentality to `identify a thief
as their father' [to identify China as their mother
country]. Even Hsu Wen-lung, a local entrepreneur filled
with a Taiwan-centered identity, would be hesitate to assert
immediately his dissenting position regarding the DPP
government's plan to overly seek `reconciliation and
coexistence' [with China.] An emotion of isolation and
disappointment would gradually occur.
"In fact, comparing it with other countries in the world,
Taiwan has more of a position to show a stern attitude
toward the Chinese government if necessary. We can see that
the United States has recently called upon China for an
answer regarding China's military buildup, its human rights
record, and the Tiananmen Square incident. However, Taiwan
has been very moderate on these issues. ."
C) "Taking Rumsfeld's Warning to Heart"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] commented in an editorial (6/7):
". The `China Threat Theory' is no longer a possibility -
the threat is a reality. Taiwan has had to deal with this
threat on its own for some time, but now other countries are
gradually beginning to get the message. The Singapore
meeting is just the starting point for international action,
and hopefully we will see even more countries facing up to
the threat posed by China's expansionism with more concrete
action. Perhaps this will all lead to new policies designed
to contain China.
"Taiwan is at the center of the First Island Chain, the
front line constraining China's expansion. It has
shouldered this burden for more than 60 years, but now
people in Taiwan and the U.S. are becoming increasingly
concerned that it will become a breach in the chain. The
hurdles faced by the arms procurement bill in the
legislature means that the imbalance in military strength
between the two sides of the Strait will increase. The lack
of commitment to self-defense might encourage China to take
advantage of the situation with a military move.
". [U]nless Taiwan is willing to become China's docile pet,
it should bare its teeth and win some respect. It needs
defensive weapons to do this. The military gap between the
two sides of the Strait is widening daily, causing the
international community to lose its faith in the commitment
of the Taiwanese people. Eventually, if this is left
unchecked, Taiwan will lose its self-confidence.
"For Taiwan's sake and for regional security, the
legislature should hold an additional session to pass the
arms procurement bill as soon as possible."
D) "Making China an Enemy"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China
Post" [circulation: 30,000] editorialized (6/7):
"Not a day goes by without hearing some American academic or
a ranking or retired U.S. official warn against the
potential danger China poses to the U.S. via Taiwan in five,
10, or 30 years.
"Senior U.S. officials, including Congressional leaders,
have one after another come out recently to caution against
the "China threat" in one way or another.
"Washington used to criticize Beijing over trade and human
rights issues but not directly challenge its military
"In its forthcoming annual report on China's military, the
Pentagon is said to depict the Chinese expansion in an
`overly antagonistic picture'.
"Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forcefully
charged at an international forum in Singapore that Beijing
spends too much on its military buildup, risking a military
imbalance in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Beijing earlier this year announced a 12.6 percent increase
in military spending to roughly US$30 billion. Though it is
about one 15th of the Pentagon's budget, Rumsfeld deemed it
was too much.
"The U.S. and its ally Japan have also announced for the
first time that Taiwan is under their security umbrella and
threatened the European Union with sanctions if EU lifts a
16-year-old arms embargo on China.
"Since March, Beijing has bound itself by a domestic law to
attack Taiwan if the island tries to break the status quo by
declaring independence. Washington's new hostility toward
Beijing has sparked fears of regional division and
"Rivalry between the world's sole superpower and the most
populous and economically thriving country benefits no one,
E) "China Must Follow Taiwan's Lead"
Joseph Wu, Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council
commented in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (6/7):
". [T]he question of whether or not China will adopt liberal
democracy is an important benchmark for Taiwan as it
considers its future relationship with China.
". [S]ome people may take an optimistic opinion that the
fourth generation of CCP leaders will be more flexible and
pragmatic, and that they will allow gradual liberalization
and political reform. There is, however, a difference
between expectations and real life.
". Only by learning from Taiwan's political development can
the CCP build a new China."