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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations, U.S.

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003191

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -
ROBERT PALLADINO
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS, U.S.
ARMS SALES

1. Summary: The Taipei dailies July 29 focused their
coverage on cross-Strait relations, local politics, and
President Chen Shui-bian's declaration on Taiwan's
determination to safeguard the nation's territory (made
on a visit to Pratas Island). The major Chinese-
language newspapers' reports on cross-Strait relations
centered mainly on two aspects: Beijing's unilateral
announcement regarding duty-free entry of Taiwan fruit
starting August 1; and Taiwan Mainland Affairs
Council's plan to open Taiwan to Chinese tourists. The
centrist "China Times" ran a banner headline on its
front page that read: "Both sides [of the Taiwan
Strait] exchange blows; tourism versus fruit." The pro-
unification "United Daily News" said on its front page:
"Breakthroughs have been made with regard to opening
mainland Chinese to visit Taiwan"; the front-page news
story of the pro-independence "Taiwan Daily," however,
read: "Taiwan fruit selling to China and [mainland
Chinese] to tour Taiwan; China is playing a two-pronged
strategy." The pro-independence "Liberty Times,"
Taiwan's biggest daily, carried the news stories on
these cross-Strait topics on its page two. It also
devoted its entire page three to coverage of the
unnamed disease in Sichuan that has already killed 31
people.

2. In terms of editorials, a "United Daily News"
editorial commented on President Chen's remarks on
cross-Strait policy, which he made during a recent
videoconference with the Foreign Correspondents' Club
of Japan. The editorial cautioned Chen not to copy
Washington's `China threat theory' or Beijing's cross-
Strait policy, but should work out a set of policies
that truly meets Taiwan's interests. A "Taiwan Daily"
editorial urged the opposition parties to support the
holding of a Legislative Yuan interim session to
discuss the arms procurement bill. Taiwan needs to
protect its own national security, the editorial said,
otherwise how can it ask the United States to help
defend the island? End summary.

1. Cross-Strait Relations

"No War, Find Ways to Talk, and No More
Procrastination!"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation:
600,000] editorialized (7/29):

"President Chen Shui-bian said during a videoconference
with the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan that his
cross-Strait policy is `to find ways to talk [with
Beijing], and that he is not afraid of postponing [the
talks]. .'

"Taiwan must not have any illusion about the United
States' `China threat theory,' because it is unlikely
that Washington will apply the tactics it used against
Iraq on China. Neither should Taiwan follow China's
suit . because the future trend tells [us] that no
matter how long Taiwan procrastinates, it is unlikely
to procrastinate long enough to see `China fall apart'
or to see `Taiwan declare independent and become a
nation.' If so, what is the point for Chen to
procrastinate? .

"The painful experience that Taiwan has undergone over
the past ten years has proved that Taiwan should not
and must not procrastinate any more. The longer it
procrastinates, the worse the situation gets, and the
narrower its road becomes. Chen must not copy the
United States' `China threat theory' and use it as his
cross-Strait policy, nor should he copy [Chinese
President] Hu Jintao's `not afraid of procrastinating'
as Taiwan's cross-Strait policy. Taiwan is not the
United States, after all, and Chen is not Hu, either.
Chen must not randomly pick up what others have said
and take it as his own ideas. Instead, he must work
out a cross-Strait policy that truly meets Taiwan's own
interests!"

2. U.S. Arms Sales

"The Opposition Parties Must Uphold [Taiwan's] National
Security as a Top Priority and Support Holding an
Interim Session [in the Legislative Yuan] to Have the
Procedure Committee Discuss the Arms Procurement Bill"

The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" [circulation:
150,000] commented in an editorial (7/29):

". But the problems and obstacles surrounding the U.S.
arms sales to Taiwan, which have hindered the arms
procurement bill from being passed [by the Legislative
Yuan], has created a threat to Taiwan's security and
have had an impact on the development of Taipei-
Washington relations. The U.S. government and the
Pentagon placed tremendous pressure on Taiwan demanding
that the island pass the special budget for the arms
deal in order to further strengthen its defense
capabilities. When their attempts failed, however,
they sought to view the crisis across the Taiwan Strait
using a rational and composed attitude. Washington
believes that Taiwan is a democratic and free country
and it is up to its public to decide whether the arms
procurement bill should be passed. If the Taiwan
people do not want the bill to be passed and chose to
risk danger, the United States can do nothing to change
[the Taiwan people's decision] but accept the fact.
There are voices in the United States saying if the
Taiwan people do not want to safeguard their own
national security, how can they ask the United States
to volunteer to join a war in the Taiwan Strait, and
such a view might develop into a mainstream value in
American society. .

". [Taiwan's] opposition parties should modify their
attitude of opposing everything that [President] Chen
Shui-bian supports and adjust their mistaken idea of
`joining hands with the Chinese Communist Party to
restrain Taiwan.' They instead should adopt a position
of protecting Taiwan, uphold the island's national
security as their top priority, and support the holding
of an interim session [in the Legislative Yuan] to have
the Procedure Committee conduct a substantive debate on
the arms procurement bill as early as possible. That
way can best demonstrate the position claimed to be
held by the opposition parties that they love Taiwan
and stand beside the Taiwan people."

PAAL

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